Some Fun With Quartal Voicings

Quartal Voicings: Using Them In Context

Quartal Voicings: ProProachA really fun part of learning quartal voicings is that when you learn one, you really learn several. Of course, that isn’t the only benefit. We have to consider the quality of such voicings. Their contemporary appeal is virtually irresistible to a creative player.

McCoy Tyner was a true innovator who used the concept of quartal voicings extensively. When used almost exclusively within a musical context, the result is surely one that reflects a contemporary sound. However, we have an evolving history of jazz piano to be thankful for and the use of quartal harmony is one part of it. As creative pianists, this works to our benefit, naturally, because we have a number of piano styles to reflect on and be influenced by.

Although an individual may not want to use quartal voicings primarily in his or her playing, one would have to admit that the incorporation of them is certainly conducive to a more profound musical style. Let’s say that you were playing a rendition of Stuart Gorell’s and Hoagy Carmichael’s Georgia On My Mind. This tune is wide open to creativity, including the types of voicings one might choose to use when presenting this tune in a flavorful way. Adding a few quartal voicings into the mix could definitely spice it up.

The short video below is an excerpt from one of the lessons in ProProach that focuses on the use of quartal voicings. This clip is also a pretty decent example of how, throughout the program, we focus on how to play voicings but also on how we use them within the context of our favorite tunes.

The voicing presented can be used in a number of different ways. The full voicing can be broken down into a number of smaller ones, as the is explained in the demonstration. In this program, we acknowledge the importance of the melody note of the moment since that, after all, is the most foremost part of the tune which is not to be disregarded. So, keeping that melody note on top actually dictates, to a degree, what particular piano chord voicing we opt for in a specific musical segment.

The particular voicing in this ProProach excerpt highlights a dominant 7th chord voicing. We approach it as a rootless voicing. However, in a solo situation, adding that bass becomes an asset, as we see. We can utilize as little as the guide tones, the 3 and 7, and build from there. What we use depends on our melody and, of course, our own preferences as a piano stylist. As you proceed and mature in your playing, your preferences become more and more a part of the game. After all, we are enjoying an art form in which freedom of choice is indeed a priority.

I would like to offer a special message to those contemplating ProProach but haven’t yet made the decision. As of this writing, the first few lessons of the program are offered at a price that’s really easy to absorb. Having access to the first 5 lessons of ProProach ought to give you a good idea of my style of presenting the material and the potential benefits in store for you. Each and every person who invests in this program is appreciated. I created this program out of a sincere passion for what I do, hoping at least a little of that passion will “rub off” on others. Truthfully, your input received via email throughout the months and years has really been my inspiration to create more and more piano learning tools. I am still here listening. Thank you so very much for being here.