'Barry Harris' Voicings


See attached examples. Do i have it right?

To my ear, C6/D dim resolves more clearly to C than F6/E dim.


Hi @chris4

You’re right, from those 2 melodies the first one resolves better to Cmaj, reason why is not the voicing, but the melody. Remember, everything in improvising is about a good, strong melody, as we talked on our lesson (remember when we started working on the bebop line in every key?)

I’d like to give you 2 exercises; 2 melodies to harmonize by using the Barry Harris voicings:

05%20PM 11%20PM

Remember, your options are:

If the song is in C, most likely the C6/Ddim works over the 25s as well.

Use either D-7(which is of course F6)/Edim, as it is the II chord, or you can use the G7(that is D-6)/Edim, as it is the V chord.

The combination of the 2, if the melody for example would go to C, I would use F6/Edim.

You can also use the Ab-6/Edim as well, as Ab-7/Db7 is the tritone sub 25 to D-7/G7.

And in some cases, you can replace a melody note of the voicing if needed,
check 06:30 from the video:

Trust your ear more than the theory behind the voicings, if it doesn’t sound right, find another solution.

All the best,



The Edim part of the F6/Edim really gets me confused. Isn’t this C7b9? It goes to F in my line. It even ends on F before I put the F, D in as a little G7 to C.

I think I’ll stick to the diatonic C6/Ddim, til I understand the F6/Edim better.

And yes, working on the bebop line. Thats C6/Ddim, (G7b9)

Yes, it’s good if you stay on the C6/Ddim, that’s always a safe option.

However whenever the melody allows, you can try the F6 as well, and see if you like the sound, for example the notes of the G7 on the first exercise:



Can you advise on the relevance of reading? I work on the Barry Harris stuff alot, and maybe like a lot of folks, want to make a dent in the omnibook to learn bebop.

If nothing else, alot of 2 5 material, plus its like doing Hanon except is jazz.

Good/no good?



Hi @chris4, can you give me more detail of what you mean by reading? Maybe an example lead sheet etc?



By reading, I just mean like the way a classical musician may look at mastering a piece of music.

Some pieces - old milestones, little will leaps. I also want to work on passport blues.

I just been working thru them bar by bar, then trying to trying to play the whole phrases. I picked them because I love these pieces, which makes it easy to practice. Its right hand work. Getting the left hand working is difficult.

So that’s kinda what I meant.

What I have made progress with on both hands/chords with melody is lulu’s back in town.


Hi @chris4 :wave:

Reading music is without a doubt a vey useful skill. I wish my sight reading skills were better!

However, from a jazz standpoint, I recommend that students do not become reliant on musical notation or transcriptions. Ultimately this is not how jazz is played, or how it was passed down. Jazz is an aural art form and so listening is the ultimate source of inspiration.

Can you post any Barry Harris records you are interested in? and perhaps certain sections of the recording which you like? we will then explain what scales/chords are being used and then the task is to go and figure it out with your ears. I wish I had realised the value and importance of this earlier on in my jazz education.

This way we are not just reading notes from a page, we are absorbing the feel, the articulation, the phrasing, the accents, and other nuances that simply can’t be communicated through notation.

@Tuomo can help you with any record you are working on, post the YouTube URL and we will explore it further.

I will move this to the Barry Harris tread to keep this thread on topics.


Hi guys, I agree with Hayden, best way to learn jazz songs is by listening different records, and even learn to sing the melody before taking the sheet music.

@chris4, I would recommend to think of the sheet music more as a supporting material than the main source of information.

Anyway in case you’re learning from a lead sheet, your approach is a good start; learn one bar at a time, and the connect them into bigger sections.

If the lead sheet has only right hand melody written out, you can add simple voicings to the left hand; for example by using only the root, 3rd and 7th of each chord.

Let me know if you have any further questions,


Barry Harris.pdf (61.0 KB)


Hi Tuomo, could you look at my harmonization and tell me if I have this right or wrong?

Thank you very much


Hi @brad1 ,

yes totally correct, you got it!

Let me know if you want more advanced exercises, I’m happy to write them.

All the best,


Thank you for responding so quickly I appreciate it. Thank you for your offer. Would you mind giving me one more exercise that is about the same difficulty as the first exercise just so I can be sure I got it because I did use your clues and now I’d like to do it without the clues. Thank you very much

Hi @brad1 and everyone,

here’s a new melody exercise to harmonise with Barry Harris Voicings, have fun!


Thanks tuomo. I’m traveling it was a fun puzzle to work on on paper but I’ll test the results on my piano at home before I send them in.

Hey. Decided to play around with this and made the following recording. Not entirely BH voicings but I did add them where I saw fit. Feedback welcome :grin:

@jose2 sounds great!

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Hi Tuomo, Would you please look at this Barry Harris Drop 2 harmonization. Thanks.

Barry Harris Drop 2.pdf (1.9 MB)

@brad1, yes, all correct!

You really have understood the Barry Harris voicings! Now the next step is to make sure all the voicings sound as good as possible. For example, how would you harmonise the following chord progression:

Hint: Remember what we talked about alternating BH voicings; you can replace or add notes if needed (in this case the Edim over G7 propably is not the best option, as it alone doesn’t really sound like V to I).

Let me know if any questions,


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