One of the first things a jazz pianist should learn to do is navigate left-hand voicings.  Learning to voice chords is VERY important for pianists looking to sound like an authentic jazz musician.  Left-hand voicings are the first thing I usually touch on when my students are tackling a new tune.  If you know the left-hand voicings, then you can play the melody or an improvised solo with your right hand.  Also, you can use the left-hand voicings to make two-hand voicings using the “Expansion Technique.”  Keep reading.

Here is a pdf of ii-V-I Rootless LH Piano Voicings  in all 12 keys.  This should prove useful for teachers and students alike.  Knowing these voicings in the context of a ii-V-I progression is important for jazz pianists when they are soloing or playing the melody.

The “Expansion Technique”

These left-hand voicings can also be turned into two-hand comp voicing.  All you have to do is move the second from the bottom note up an octave in each voicing.  Play two notes in your left-hand and two notes in your right hand, and you will have some nice, stock chord voicings you can use right away to comp behind someone else’s solo.  I call this the “Expansion Technique” because it expands a closed left-hand voicing into an open two-hand comp voicing.

For example, the first two measures are left-hand voicings for a ii-V-I in C.  The second two measures use the “expansion technique” to create two-hand voicings.

 

ii-V-I Expansion Technique

This pdf  of stock left-hand voicings, when combined with the “expansion technique,” gives you the tools to be able to voice 75% of the chords you will encounter as a jazz pianist (at a functional level, that is.  You should be continually expanding your vocabulary of chords and voicings).  I give this to students who need a jump-start crash course in chord voicings.  Feel free to use the pdf and to share with others!

For further study, you can check out Left-Hand Voicings for St. Thomas and another basic handout for left-hand voicings.

30 Stepsto Better Jazz Playing

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