Re: Kenny Barron 11th voicings:

Maybe a dumb question. Sometimes I have trouble reaching the 11 in the RH triad. If I lower that 11 and place it above the 3, how is the chord named? Is it now some sort of altered 7? All the same notes are there, but the upper note is the 7. Just curious.

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Hey Scott :wave:

Great question!

An important point to understand is that we can place the extension anywhere in the chord voicing. So the 11th does not have to be at the top of the voicing, and it will still remain a minor 11th chord.

We don’t name chords by the note at the top of the voicing, instead we name them by the highest extension that they contain, wherever that may be voiced in the chord.

That’s one of the things that I find so fun about playing jazz piano; we have the creative freedom to decide exactly how we want to create our voicings in terms of:

  • the order of the notes (are they stacked sequentially ie, 1-3-5-7-9, or perhaps using 4th intervals, or 5th intervals in the case of the ‘Kenny Barron Voicing’)

  • the density of the notes (are you repeating any notes, ie. doubling the 5th to add more weight and impact)

  • the spread of the notes (are the notes spread out wide? or are they voiced in a smaller space on the piano, ie. exactly how you are referring to bringing that 11th down and tucking it in above the minor 3rd)

This is one of the great freedoms we have as jazz musicians which allows us to access a rainbow of different colours and textures for any chord type, in any situation.

By bringing that 11th down and placing it above the 3rd, it creates a ‘cluster’ in the middle of the chord which gives it a lovely richness and interesting texture.

Generally you wouldn’t place upper extensions 9/11/13 right at the bottom, ie the bottom of the note of the voicing. This would change the fundamental character of the chord because the extensions are far away from the ‘core pillars’ of the chord which are 1-3-5 (the triad).

However, sometimes it can be nice to tuck the 9th right above the root, so for example, for an E-9, we could play E-F#-G-B-D (R-9-b3-5-b7) and listen to how different that sounds to simply stacking the chord tones sequentially E-G-B-D-F# (R-b3-5-b7-9). Both are great voicing for E-9, but they have a very different ‘texture’ and this is exactly the kind of creative freedom we have in the sounds we create when playing jazz.

Anyhow I digress :grin:

It might be nice to watch our lesson on ‘cluster voicings’ - check it out here:

I also answered a similar question which I think you will find useful, check it out here:

Any further questions with this just let me know :+1:

Thanks Hayden! As always, your explanations are thorough and straightforward. The lesson on cluster voicings was quite helpful.

Hey all, just wanted to share something today, on my practice of kenny barron voicings, here’s a a 251 i found, and sounds good to my ears, its in F major:

-The Gmin is a Kenny Baron Voicing
-Cdom is a run from high to low: A-F-E-D-Db-Bb-A-G-F#-G
-Fmaj is simple: F-E-G-A-C

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Very nice! It sounds good to my ears as well. Thanks for sharing!