Bill Evans Voicings - Rootless Chords Pt. 1 (Podcast Episode #22)

Posted by: JAZZEDGE on March 23, 2021

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00:06 Hey guys, Willie Myette creator of jazz edge I want to welcome you to episode number 22 of the confident improviser podcast. Today we are going to be talking about Bill Evans voicings. These are rootless chord voicings, and this is part one in this podcast you're going to learn how to form the three most popular rootless chord voicings, okay, remember this podcast is designed to go along with my confident improviser program found the jazz edge, you can go back to the confident for more details. And I'm also going to show you where you could download today's sheet music, whether you're a member of my site or not. Alright, so let's dig into these rootless chord voicings now, so first of all, let's talk about what a rootless chord voicing is and what it is not. Okay. So a rootless irregular chord voicing for like, say a C minor seven chord would be That's right. So C, E flat, G, and B flat, right? Just your roots, your third your fifth, okay? So root 357. Okay, 01:11 there's your regular chord voicing. You know, C dominant seventh would be C, E, G, B flat, 01:16 C major, seven, C, E, G, D, okay, there's your regular seventh chords, we also call them block chords. Now if I put on my ireo protrack, and I'm going to play autumn leaves just the first part of this and listen to what it sounds like when I use the block chords. Right? So here we go. 01:52 Okay, so those are just regular block chords. I'm using inversions there, but you know, it sounds okay. There's nothing wrong with that. Now listen to when I play using the rootless chord voicings, here we go. 02:20 Now, you can go ahead and rewind and kind of listen to a b both of those, but what you probably noticed is that the realest chord voicings sound, well, for lack of a better word, a little bit more sophisticated than the block chords. And the reason for that is that the rootless chord voicings remove the root out of the chord. Does that mean that you can never play the root in a rootless chord voicings? No, no, of course you can. And a lot of times what would happen is the root would be played or embedded in the middle of the court or maybe higher up in the chord. Okay? Usually what better definition is a rootless chord voicing does not have the root of the chord as the bottom note. Alright, so let's dig into forming these three chords. Okay, we're going to do a major, minor and dominant seventh rootless chord voicing, I'm going to show you three ways in which you can form these rootless chord voicings, okay, and I'm going to also tell you some ways in which you can practice this stuff away from the piano. Alright, so first of all, let's start with our C major seventh chord, right, so we have C, E, G, and B, that's our root, third, fifth, and seventh have a C major seventh chord. Now I put all of the three ways right down here in the bottom case. So the first thing is start with guide tones, then add tensions. The second way is move up to the ninth and adjust. And the third ways we let relate back to other block chords, we're going to go through all three of these, okay, but they are listed on this sheet for you as well. Alright, so the first one, you start with your guide tones. The guide tones are the most important notes of the chord because they really helped to define the chord. And these three chords are major seventh, minor, seventh, and dominant seventh chords, the guide tones are going to be the third and the seventh of the chord. So I'm going to start by putting my pinky on the third of C major seventh, which is an E, and my second finger is going to go on beat, this is all in my left hand right now my right hand is just resting, so I have Pinkie on a second finger on beat. Okay, now once you have your guide tones, one note is going to go in between the guide tones. So in between the E and the B, there's going to be one note though that sandwich in between there and one note is going to go above the guide tones, I'm going to be playing that with my thumb. Now the note that's going to go in between the guide tones is going to be the fifth of the chord. Okay, that's going to be just about the same on all the chords, the dominant is going to be a little bit different, but on the major and minor is the fifth in here. And the thumb is going to play the night up top here that this method is, I would say the most complicated method of forming these chords. But it's a method that lets you understand much better what you're actually playing. And you're gonna, you know, get the ownership of the chord down much better by kind of understanding this method. So you don't have to always go to this method, but make sure that you kind of understand that just so that you can have a fuller understanding of these chords. Okay, so now, that's my C major seventh chord, right? I have E, G, B, and D, okay. And then you'll notice that I can come up to this other form as well. So I have the third on the bottom, and then I could also put the seventh on the bottom. So for those of you just listening, that's an eg B, and D, in the left hand, or I can come up and play B, D, E, and G. Now what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna play with my right hand and play the route with my left hand. So you can hear that beautiful chord sound. 06:03 So if I'm gonna play bass player down here, alright, so you can hear that those chords sound really nice, really rich, and what's going on is you're removing the root and basically, basically replacing that root with the knife, right? So my regular block chord is C, E, G, V, my rootless voicing for that major seventh chord is E, G, B, and D. So that's the first method is to use the guide tones. The second method is literally you just go up to the light. So what I'm doing here is I'm starting with my C major seven, the block chord, my pinky is on C, so I just got my pinky on E instead, and just voice up from there. And then see how we skip a note, skip a note, skip a note, Well, it turns out that we end up skipping right on up to our knife, so it kind of naturally fits within our hand to just kind of keep that same position, it just shifted up. So I'm just now putting my pinky on the third of the chord down here, and I'm playing up from there. Now this method, you've got to kind of know what the ninth of the chord is. Now, that's actually pretty simple. The ninth of the chord is just one whole step above the root. So the root is right here, you know, when my thumb I see it just go up a whole step, I get to the note D, and there's my night. So here's another method, just kind of like do this thing in which you just kind of shift up. And then now you got it. Now once you've got this voicing, to make the alternate voice, and just take the bottom two notes, and move them up an octave. And then now we're right back to the B, D, E, G. So the same voicings that I just did when I was doing the guided tone method. But now, I'm just thinking about it a little bit differently. And now let me give you a third way that you can learn this. And this is actually the way that I was taught and it worked out quite well for me. And it's a great way to learn, I will tell you the, after I show it to you why I don't like this method as the best method. So first of all, let me tell you the method for a major seventh chord, go up to third, which is e and build a minor seventh chord there. So again, you've got E, G, B, and D, right. So once again, it's the same notes, we're just trying to get to the same notes in multiple ways. So build a minor seventh chord on the third of a major seventh chord. And then now you have your C major rootless chord voicing. Now the reason I don't like that method as much is because now you're building a different chord quality, and you got to go to the third and all of that, and yes, it does work, and it works quite well. And it's easy to remember, but I would just caution, make sure that anytime you're doing stuff like this in which they're like kind of quote unquote, tricks, right, make sure that you still understand the underlying chord and why this chord is being formed. The way that it is, make sure that you know the numbers that you're playing the third, the fifth, the seventh and the ninth, okay, you want to make sure you know those notes. Alright. So let's see major seven. Pretty simple. Again, you can download the music here and you got the forms on here. C minor, seven, C, E flat, G, B flat. Alright, well, first method is start with my guide tones. So I put my pinky in E flat, second finger on B flat, and yes, it's absolutely fine to put your pinkie in a black note when you're playing chords, that I have one note in between. I've already said that that was gonna be my fifth and then my thumb up here is gonna play my night. So I have B flat g B flat, and D. The other version of that is take the bottom two notes, bring them up here, now I have B flat, D, E flat, G, C minor down here, C minor up there. Again, they're all written out for you on this sheet. So C minor seven. The other method is literally play C minor seven, put your pinky on the fly and just kind of go up and and let your thumb naturally find the ninth up here. Okay, so you find there as well, because you notice that the rootless chord voicing the bottom three notes of the of the major and minor rootless chord voicings are the same three notes found in the block chord, it's just this top note up here is playing the night. And, of course, the last method is to go to the third, which in this case is E flat, it's a flat third, right? It's a minor seventh chord, go to a flat three, and build a major seventh chord voicing. 11:02 On that note, I'm building an E flat major seventh chord on there. Now one nice thing about this method is well, when you were thinking, E flat major is well guess what? It's a C minor chord. So I'm thinking about going to E flat major, right? Well, guess what, what is my relative major to C minor, it is a flat Major. So playing that E flat major scale works great while playing that C minor seventh chord down there. So just a little tip for you. The last method is to simply actually, that was the last method going to go into the flat three, and then doing a major seventh chord on them. So you got all three methods, the guide tones, the just kind of shifting it, or thinking about going to the flat three, and then building that major seventh chord there. Okay, so major seventh minor seventh, not too too difficult, dominant gets a little bit trickier. So let's start with our basic c seven chord, C, E, G, B flat, right, so the first method is start with your guide tones. Okay, here, we're going to be playing the E and the B flat with, again, the pinky and the second finger, the note in between is not going to be the fifth, the note in between is going to be the 13th, which is going to be a half step away from the flatted seventh. So here, I have B flat as my flatted. Seventh, I'm going to play an A underneath that with my middle finger. And then that is my 13th. So now I have E, A, B flat, D, A, B flat, and when my thumb, I'm still going to come up to my night. So ninth is the same on all three chords. And to make my inversion, just take the bottom two notes, bring them up here. So I have C seven, there, C seven there. Again, all four notes are E, A, B, flat, and D. The other method is start with C seven, gotta go up, right, shift your fingers up until you get to the nine. Now you could do this here you have E, G, B flat, D, this is the fifth in there. But if you want to make it sound a little bit more Jazzy, you kind of shift that fifth, up to the 13th. Now for some of you, you're gonna say, wait a second, why is it five, and then going to 13, rather than five going to six, I have a bunch of lessons on that I've talked about that many times. But basically, what's happening is when you have a tension, the tension is not replacing the chord tone, the tension is being added, in addition to Now this might be a little bit confusing here, because it looks like Hey, wait a second, aren't you replacing that fifth with the sixth right? Now, in reality, I could still be playing that fifth in there, like I could play a fifth down here. If I wanted to play the rootless chord in the right hand, I could even play that fifth sandwich right in there. So here I have G, A, B flat D, and I'm literally using every finger for this, I could do that I don't need to know, I just take the fifth out the fifth on these three chords do not really add all that much to the chord. So we leave them out on these three chord types. And then the last way of forming this chord, like the kind of like, trick way is go down to the flatted seventh, which is B flat, make a major seventh chord on that note, and then flat the fifth. So I take the F and I flat it down to E. Now for some of you, I just lost you right there. Alright, so let me go through that again for you. Okay, so you trying to find a rootless chord voicing for C seven. So you go to the seventh, the seventh for C seven B flat rate, it's a flat at seven. So on the B flat, I build a major seventh chord, which is B flat, D, F, and a. And I take the fifth of that chord fifth of the B flat chord, which is F, and I flat that I bring it down to E. So now I have B flat, D, E, and a, which again is my seventh, ninth, third and 13th. And if I take these top two notes, and I move them down, now I'm back to my original form that I started with a B flat. Now, these rootless voicings rarely change your playing, like like pretty dramatically, actually, I mean, if you're used to playing shells, or you're used to playing block chords, and then you move into these rootless chord voicings, you're going to find that it's really going to change your playing a lot. But there's a little bit of a gotcha. Yeah, the rule is chord voicings work extremely well in group settings. What about solo piano settings? Well, I talked about a lot of that in my standards by the dozen course, found back at Jazz Age, because we go through, you know, obviously, different ways of playing these standards, both in a solo piano cocktail piano style, and also in a group style, campaign accompaniment, all of that, as well as improvisation. So if you're interested in that, check out standards, excuse me standards by the dozen back at jazz edge. But anyway, let's just kind of talk about this for a second. So if I'm playing in a solo piano setting, can I still use these rootless chord voicings? Well, let's take my example of autumn leaves again. 16:52 Now one thing you probably are missing is some of the root motion, kind of actually hearing the root right? 17:09 You're not hearing that root motion anymore. So how do you get the root motion with a rootless chord and a while also playing melody in the right hand? Well, this is where we start to do like some things that I call like a root stop. So 17:31 I can play the root of the chord quickly, and then come up and then play my rootless chord voicing. I don't have to do that for every chord, though, I could do. 17:50 I can hear how I can throw the root in there every now and again, to just kind of get that root sound of the song. So for sure, you know, playing these rootless chord voicings, in a solo piano setting is a little bit more challenging than just playing your regular block chords or shells. Okay. However, you will find that having these rootless chord voicings, even in a solo piano setting, really come in handy, okay, because not only can you utilize them as is in solo piano to a degree, right, you don't want to do it all of the time. But you can also start to bring it in to your right hand as well. So 18:43 I can start to bring in some of these rootless chord voicings into my right hand, both in comping soloing, and also underneath the melody right, sometimes I got to tweak them a little bit, but they really do work quite nicely. And I'm able to get some real nice, 19:04 nice rich chord voicings there, especially when I start to add them with shells in the left hand, you can really get a nice, full sounding chord voicings, okay, so if you want to continue in your jazz piano, you know, vein here, lowing and having those rootless chord voicings at your disposal and under your fingertips. Super, super important. Now, I said I would show you how can you practice this stuff away from the piano? Well, the first thing that I would suggest practicing away from the piano is making sure that you really know your block chords. So if I said, Let's take f, for instance, F major seven. If I asked you to spell the chord, the F major seventh chord quickly, are you going to say f A, C, E, or is it going to be f? Right? So if there's a lot of arms, or uncertainty of what the notes of that chord are, then please make sure that You're really going through those a lot, okay? You have to know your block chords well before you can move to your rootless chords, okay? And if we're really talking about flow, you have to start with triads first. If you don't know your triads, then you really can't do your seventh chords. So just start with triads First, make sure you really know your triads. Once you get that down, then you can move on to your seventh chords. Once you get your seventh chords down, then you can move on to your rootless chords. Once you get your rootless chords down, at least these three basic ones, then we can start getting into some of these alterations as well. Get some of these nice, nice big altered chord sounds, you can get into that after you really have down your rootless chord voicings. So anyway, make sure you get down your triads and your seventh chords. Alright, so now you have down, you're trying to seventh chords, let's say you want to practice rootless chords away from the piano. So, again, you could try going through these three different methods, okay, probably the one that's going to help out the best is do the most theoretical method first, and that is the guide tone method. So start F major seventh. Alright, what am I guidestones? What's the third and the seventh of the chord? It's an a, an E, A and E. And I and one of the other two notes, I said, I need the fifth ela major seventh chord, that's a C, and I need the ninth which is a G, right? You start to visualize what that chord looks like. Is it also an A minor seventh chord? Yes, you could think of it that way as well. But the reason that I would say, think about the guide tones is that you bring that stuff into your improvisation as well. So listen, again, when I improvise over autumn leaves, I'll just use Geico. 22:22 So there, I'm really focusing mostly on my guide tones, you hear how it like starts to establish my solo, it starts to like, bring the solo in. So that sounds like okay, this works over those chords, versus doing something like you know, just like this. Like kind of hunting around for notes, and it sounds terrible. My guide tones allow me to create the basic foundation of a solo that then I can add on to right, so guide tones are super, super important. And I would definitely suggest that you work on trying to get them in your, you know, in your brain, but then also under your fingertips, the best way of getting them under your fingertips is to actually know them inside your brain First, the best way of knowing them inside your brain is to do that away from the piano. It's just two notes is really all that you're trying to think about the third and the seventh of the court, okay, and then you can build those rootless chord voicings from there. Now, like I said, I have a chord chart here as well. If you're a member of the site, you can just simply log in at jazz edge COMM And you can go to the podcast area and you can download the sheet music if you're not a member of jazz edge, just go back to jazz piano so just visit the website jazz piano put in your name and your email address and you can download that sheet right away now in full disclosure, I'm also going to set up a free account for you a jazz so you can get in you can try some of these lessons for free, right and see if the lessons worked for you. But regardless, there is a ton of information in the site absolutely free right so if you want to get that free account you also want to get this free chord chart just go back to jazz piano put in your name and email address there and then you'll be good to go. Alright, so that's it for me with this podcast episode we're going to be talking about these chords more so be sure to subscribe to the podcast right so that you know when I come out with a new episode. Alright, that's it for me guys. Take care

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