Canadian Musician - January / February - Page 26

KEYBOARDS Teri Parker is a Toronto-based pianist, composer, and performer. She is a University of Toronto Jazz Performance graduate and has also studied in New York City under the tutelage of world-renowned pianists and composers Aaron Goldberg, Sophia Rosoff, and Guillermo Klein. Her bands the Parker Abbott Trio and Teri Parker Quartet have released four acclaimed original albums and toured across Canada. By Teri Parker A Modal Approach to Chord Voicing D o you ever feel like you’re always playing the same chord voic- ings? Often when we first start learning how to play jazz on the piano, our teachers show us the standard rootless chords for the left hand, often re- ferred to as “Bill Evans’ voicings.” These chords are either built from the 3 rd up (using chord tones 3-5-7-9) or the 7 th up (7-9-3-5). This is a great place to start and gives you a concrete way to comp through tunes right away. These shapes give you ev- erything you need to sound good playing through changes, as your chords include the most important chord tones, the 3 rd and 7 th , as well as colour tones, the 5 th and 9 th . If you start altering the extensions, such as lower- ing the 9 th or raising the 5 th , you’ll really start sounding great; however, if you’ve already mastered these voicings and are starting to get bored playing the same thing, it’s time to try a new approach. A Fresh Start To get started, pick a key. I would recom- mend starting with D dorian, as you won’t have any black keys to deal with (yet). Then create a four-note shape starting with D in the bass – for example, D and G in the left hand and C and F in the right. For the first shape, you may like to build a chord using the important notes to outline a Dm7 chord, which is why I’ve chosen the 26 • C A N A D I A N M U S I C I A N C (7 th ) and F (3 rd ) in the right hand. Using the same fingering, move this shape up and down in steps through the D dorian scale. Make sure to maintain the same shape throughout. Because you are playing in one tonality, ALL of the chords you are playing will work over a Dm7 chord. Some of them will be more harmonious and clearly outline the chord, and some will be more dissonant, and might be used more as passing chords. Your goal is to feel comfortable moving through the mode, using the same shape so you have access to any of these chords while comping through a tune. The Next Step Once moving your voicing up and down in steps feels easy, try adding a fifth note to your chord, or moving the shape up and down in 3 rds or 4 ths . Then improvise, creating chord melodies while maintaining the same shape. Try a new shape each day, creating your own sounds within a certain mode. This exercise can be done both in and out of time, but it’s usually good to start out of time to make sure you’re maintaining the original shape, then work through a slow tempo on HY]ۛYH N JH[ܚ\H\KHY[]KX\H\\Bۈ]H Y]X\\YH[ZYJK\X[^\\Hܚ™ܙX]\H L LMK[Z[]HZ[H\]\ XZB\H^HY[H^\[[B[\ˈ\x&\HܛوX[]Y\][\^\\K[H[\YH[H[\›X[HܙX]]H^\\[H[[B[\H[\X[XXKXZ[]\X“ۘH[x&]H[YH[YH[H]^\˜[[\][\][XXH[H[KHܙX]ۙ\]\8']8'BHZ[\]\ˈ\\H[[ۙHܛB\M܈ M\HM܈ZY\[M܈ZY\ˈ[H]HHو[YBۈۛHܙ[[\؈\HXKB\\XZH[H[[\\[H]HXܙۈ[^H[ۙ[ݚ[[\\\\[ۈ[H[\[^ܚ[\X[HX[][ۜو\\˜[[\[\[H[YH\] YH\ܙX][\XXH\BX[ۈ\N8'[\\[ۜ'HH B[K8'YYH^[x'HHYYH\\'['HH^[Hܝ\[8'XZY[XYx'HH\YH[ˈ\[HX[\ۈ\HXܙ[\X\[YH[\[HXB[^H\K[^H[ۙ][KXX[ܙX[H[ݚ[\\˜\[[[H[[\[\X\[]H[H][^][^\^ܙB\[۞KX[]H[