Advanced Jazz Harmony: Creating Upper Extension Voicings

A reader recently emailed me to ask a very good question about how to incorporate upper extensions into his voicings. This is a simple way of creating your own voicings to use in different situations that call for upper extensions.

For more tips and tricks, don’t forget to subscribe to the blog!

Your music is who you are.

When I say that, I don’t mean that your life depends on your music, or that music is all that matters in your life. What I mean is that you can always tell who a person is through his or her music. When you hear an improviser or composer who demonstrates a great deal of self indulgence, overpowering those around him with busy improvisation or writing difficult and pretentious music that serves to impress rather than to express, that says something important about the person creating the music.

If a person is able to write beautiful, tender music, or be sensitive to the musicians he is playing with, this demonstrates a certain legitimate part of the person’s personality. Of course, you might think there are exceptions. For example, what if a person who acts arrogant and selfish on the outside writes gorgeous, tender music? Either way, I personally believe that the music is expressing a part of that person that is not always seen.

Some people are completely incapable of writing beautiful music. Some people are completely incapable of writing exciting music. Sometimes, if you go to a jazz club in New York City and listen carefully to a musician, you can tell all you need to know about his or her personality. If the player is self-indulgent, playing lots of notes while not listening to the other musicians, chances are that this will show through in his personality. That person won’t really listen to you either if you talk to him. And that’s why I think your music is who you are. It is a direct channel of your personality.

What do you think? Is music “who you are,” or are there exceptions to the rule? Leave your thoughts in a comment below or by clicking the little comment bubble at the top right of the post.

Advanced Jazz Harmony: Block Chord Inversions

This post will help you take your block chords to the next level by teaching you how to practice Block Chord Inversions. Block chords are extremely useful for a number of techniques, including voicing a melody with chords and improvising with chords, comping, and much more. They are also very useful for composing and arranging jazz in general.

(To learn about Major Block Chords, click here. To learn about Minor Block Chords, click here.)

Here is the full exercise in PDF form: Block Chord Inversions

How to Sound Like McCoy Tyner – Part 1 – Dominant Pentatonic Voicings

In this short video, you are walked through a specific type of jazz piano voicing often used by the great pianist McCoy Tyner while comping. These voicings are called Dominant Pentatonic Inversions and if you practice the material from this lesson diligently, you will gain much more facility in your Tyner-esque comping abilities every day. Click the link below for a free PDF version of the exercise in half-steps:

Dominant Pentatonic Voicings