Our rootless voicings course is a core part of our jazz piano syllabus here at PianoGroove.
Most of these lessons were inspired by my own influences, mainly Bill Evans, and his unique use of the rootless voicings with tensions and colours. The feedback I receive from students on these lessons has been great and so I’m excited for launching this practice plan series.
I know first hand how much work is involved in learning these voicings. It’s a journey that we take over many years. The exercises I have included in this plan are ones that I revisit frequently and I’m sure they will be a great asset for all who want to improve their understanding of jazz harmony.
This PDF practice plan contains 6 drills and exercises to master rootless voicings. Each drill comes with an associated video which are listed below. The first 3 drills are harmony focused, and the last 3 drills are improvisation focused.
This is one of my favourite ways to use rootless voicings, I play the bass note way down in the lower registers, and then I come up with my left hand to play the upper extensions and alterations. Such a great way to add colour and texture to the chords I’m playing during ballad performance.
For practice slot 2, we add major, minor, and dominant voicings together to create the major 251 progression. We will play the root in the lower registers, and then bring our left hand up to play the voicings.
One of the intricacies of minor harmony is the variety of colours and tensions we can add to the chords in the minor 251 progression. This gives us a huge amount of variations to work on. For this practice slot we cover the basic progression and also highlight a number of variations we can work on.
For practice slot 4, we take a simple chord tone line around all 12 rootless major 251s. We then look at some variations and extensions you can add to the melody and finally we will deconstruct a more complex bebop line.
For practice slot 5, we will be exploring similar drills and exercises covered in slot 4, but this time we will be applying the drills to the minor 251 progression. We start by introducing another simple line based on chord tones and arpeggios. We then apply this to the minor 251 in all 12 keys.
For practice slot 6, we will explore how to find your own melodic ideas and drill through the exercises we have covered earlier in this practice series. We will analyse a short melody transcribed from a Red Garland solo and then incorporate this into the line we covered in practice slot 4.