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Jazz Piano Harmony Tutorial


jazz harmony tutorial

This worksheet is another quick overview of Jazz piano styles within 2 sheets of A4 paper.
Whatever your standard, it’s always useful to be aware of these harmonic stylistic differences as it’s particularly useful for solo piano as you can mix and match the different approaches to provide textural interest.

Download Jazz Harmony Tutorial
Fig 1 shows the basic II-V-I progression in closed, root position and you should always be aware of this in the back of your mind.
Fig 2 Shows these chords opened up in 2 ways, to provide a more resonant chord using only the same notes.
Fig 3 is an example of Bebop voicings, which are usually very sparse using only 3rds or 7ths and thus known as “shells”.
Fig 4 extends the harmony by the use of added 9ths and 13ths. Notice that this is still based on the basic “open” voicings.
Fig 5 extends this idea and shows chromatically altered extensions.
Fig 6 shows the rootless voicings used by most modern Jazz pianists. These take the important notes of the open chords (3rd,7th and possibly 9ths,11ths,13ths) and inverts them to produce intervals of 2nds and to enable the chord to fit within one hand. These voicings are only effective in the tenor register of the piano.
Fig 10,11 shows how these voicings may be used when “comping” in a rhythm section. The right hand adds a stronger trumpet like element with an octave and 4th or 5th, boosted by the thick rootless voicing of the left hand.
If you’re familiar with these approaches in all keys then you’ll have plenty to work with, especially for solo piano.

Happy practising!

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Jazz Harmony PDF

Our harmony downloads are proving popular so here’s another Jazz Harmony PDF.
This sheet is titled “Practise Worksheet – intermediate” but it’s vital for all serious Jazz/Commercial pianists to know these chords inside out.

The first exercise is a simple series of II-V-I progressions in closed position, around a cycle of fifths. These are vital and even if I’m playing a weird large chord with loads of extensions and no root-I’m still am aware of the closed position voicing underneath it all!

When this is familiar, move on to the next exercise which then opens out these chords using an interval of a fifth in the base and adding the 3rd and 7th (or 7th and 3rd) above.
These voicings are absolutely vital to good jazz piano and indeed, good arranging. This style of opening out a simple chord uses the least amount of notes (in Jazz harmony) to the greatest effect.
The next exercise goes on to add extensions to these chords, utilising a bass note in the left hand and chord in the right.

The final exercise is to play the previous chord shapes in the left hand with the intention of leaving the bass notes to the bass player so as to allow the right hand to improvise.
There we have it-most of Jazz harmony, all on a single sheet of paper!

Jazz Harmony PDF download 

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