Basic Two Handed Voicings

The most basic two handed voicings can be built by taking a left hand four note voicing in its close position and simply dropping the second note from the top down an octave. This is known as a “drop 2 voicing” and the result is a four note voicing that is spaced out to be playable by two hands with two notes in each hand. An alternative way to picture this voicing building method is to raise the third note from the top up an octave. This could be called a “raise 3 voicing” but in reality it is just the same as a drop 2 voicing built from a different close position inversion of the same chord. The example below demonstrates this method applied to a C major 7th chord:

Drop 2 Basic Position

Drop 2 1st Inversion

Drop 2 2nd Inversion

Drop 2 3rd Inversion

To get these four note voicings under one’s hands, the following is a useful exercise which cycles through the different inversions of the four note voicings for the chords commonly found in major and minor II-V-I’s. Note that in order to reinforce muscle memory over time, it is best to decide on the fingering early on and stick to it as much as possible. Suggested fingering is provided for each chord types presented in the exercise. Note that the voicing shapes for half-diminished, seventh-altered and minor-sixth chords are identical to those in dominant-seventh chords, and consequently have the same fingering.

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Next we can apply the four note voicings to the most common chord progressions in jazz, namely the II-V-I and the minor II-V-I. The different voicing inversions result in four main variations of varying degrees of consonance in voicing II-V-I’s and minor II-V-I’s respectively. The suggested fingering in the following exercises follow the same fingering previously suggested in the inversion exercise.

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After going through the above variations, the next step is to apply these voicings to tunes. Make different combinations of inversions and see how they sound to your ears. Try to use the same fingering as the previous exercises to maximize reinforcement of muscle memory.

Download as PDF’s:
2 handed 4 note voicing appregios.pdf
2 Handed II-V-I’s.pdf
2 Handed Minor II-V-I’s.pdf