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HomeBlogJazz Piano Voicings 101

Jazz Piano Voicings 101

Many beginning jazz piano students are mystified by jazz piano voicings.  This video contains a few basic concepts that can help beginning jazz piano students and non-pianists get going with same basic jazz voicings.

What Do I Play in My Left Hand?

This video teaches you to play the 5 qualities of 7th chords in your left hand:

Major 7th (maj7) chords: 1 3 5 7

Dominant 7th (7) chords: 1 3 5 b7

Minor 7th (min7) chords: 1 b3 5 b7

Half-Diminished (min7b5) chords: 1 b3 b5 b7

Diminished (dim7) chords: 1 b3 b5 bb7

The left hand will just play the basic block chords with the root, 3rd, an optional 5th, and the 7th. Sometimes the 5th sounds a little “clunky” and can be left out unless it’s a flat 5th.

What Do I Play in My Right Hand?

The right hand will play the extensions.  The 9ths, 11ths, and 13ths are called “Extensions.”  In this basic jazz piano 101 video, the right hand plays 9ths and 13ths for major and dominant chords. On minor 7th chords, half-diminished, and diminished chords the right hand can play the 9ths and 11ths.

If you add alter the 9th, 11th, or the 13th, we call it an “Alteration.” There are four possible alterations:

b9, #9, #11, b13

These alterations are also covered by the right hand in the video.  Alterations are typically used over dominant (7) chords, although the #11 works well over a major 7ths (maj7) chord.

Enjoy the video!

-Camden Hughes

Camden Hughes
Camden is a working jazz pianist, multi-instrumentalist, and music educator currently living near Boise, ID. He teaches music at the Idaho Arts Charter School, and is the jazz adjunct professor at Northwest Nazarene University. Check out his music at


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