An Easy & Effective V Chord Turnaround

ProProach - V Chord TurnaroundOne particular lesson in ProProach is dedicated to a comprehensive explanation of the tool we areĀ about to focus onĀ here. Actually, it’s a lesson that can open doors for you when it comes to making your cocktail piano playing sparkle in more ways than one. For now, we will take a look at a condensed version of this lesson that you can start using right away.

I would like to encourage you to choose a favorite ballad of yours in which you can apply this technique. It shouldn’t be too difficult to find a turnaround in which that eighth bar of the tune is a V chord which turns around back to the I chord at the beginning of the first measure for a repeat of that section. In this video excerpt below, I am applying this to the turnaround in Erroll Garner’s Misty. I am actually playing it in the key of C Major. If this is the song you would you choose, chances are good that you might be used to playing this tune in Eb or another key. Simply use the V chord of that key (the V chord of Eb is Bb, of course).

First, the simply technique explained briefly:

In the key of C Major, the V chord is G7. Here is the basic way this chord is spelled out in root position:


Okay, if we expand on this chord by adding both a 9 and an 11, we have this:


Let’s take a look at that upper half of the chord:


It looks like an F Major triad, right?

Alright… play that “F Major” triad in the middle range of your piano or keyboard while simply playing the root G in the bass area and listen!

What you are actually playing here is referred to in at least a couple of different ways. You’ll often see the chord symbol written out as a “slash chord” like this:

F/G (meaning “F chord over G bass”)

However, this chord is really a G suspended chord. The “suspended” refers to the 4 of the chord which is taking the place of the 3, which would be B. You’ll likely notice that the sound of this chord gives you the feeling of something being “suspended” in mid-air. The 9 (A) and the 11 (C) add to the flavor of this voicing. It’s a beautiful sound and a fantastic tool you can use to create interesting momentum in your playing. It really projects a sound that wants to go somewhere… that’s why it’s a great chord voicing to use in your turnarounds when the V chord is resolving back to that I chord at the beginning of the tune.

In short, whenever you have this situation, you can consider using this suspended chord in place of the basic 7th chord that’s often written in the music. Have lots of fun looking for areas of your favorite standards where you can incorporate this technique to add some pizzazz to those turnarounds!