Jazz Piano Chords

Here are a few different common styles of playing jazz piano chords which should give the reader a strong foundation when playing jazz chords with one or two hands. Once familiar with basic seventh chords, it's good to learn a few different ways to arrange the notes in what are called chord voicings. Start with a couple types of one-handed voicings and then proceed to a the different types of two-handed voicings. Additionally, feel free to listen to how the best jazz pianists use them to get a sense of different rhythms and how they work with the melody.

Shell Voicings These are usually played with the left hand and are the most sparse type of voicing usually consisting only one or two notes. These leave the most space for your right hand or other instruments.

4 Note Voicings Playing more notes creates more possibilities of tonal color. Here is the common way to play jazz chords in one hand using 4 notes.

Two Handed Voicings Here is a way to play lush, full two handed voicings using a shell voicing in your left hand and a major triad in your right hand.

Fourth Voicings These voicings are a much more impressionistic, modern jazz voicing popularized in the 60's that are great to blend with the more traditional voicings.

These are merely a starting point to enable musicians to begin playing jazz piano chords. Once familiar with these types of chord voicings, the musician can mix and match the different techniques to create their own style of switching between the textures. It is also very helpful to listen to the legendary jazz musicians who dedicated a lifetime to the artform of playing jazz. Listening to the many different ways to voice chords, as well the various rhythms and feels of playing them, one can develop one's own personal style of playing jazz music.