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Jazz Piano Chords for Non-piano Players

Here are ninth and thirteenth chords for II V I progressions. These are very useful for musicians that do not play a chordal instrument and need some basic chords to hear progressions.

The progression uses basic voice leading. The 7th of the II chord moves to the 3rd of the V chord. The 7th of the V to the 3rd of the I, the 13th of the V to the 9th of the I chord, and the 9th of the V to the 5th of the I. None of the other tones change as they are common between the chords. The I chord shows a moving voice of the 7th to the 6th just for completeness. You do not need to play this unless you feel you have a musical situation that calls for it, or sounds right to you.


The first example starts on an inversion with a half step in the middle. Very common sounding to jazz. The second example starts on another inversion and maintains the voice leading. Therefore you have two sets of changes with proper voice leading to facilitate range in different keys.

The next two are the same example in a minor key.

Same in a minor key

This last example uses the tri-tone substitution to get the altered sound of the V7 chord. Superimposing the bII13th chord (Db13) alters the V13 (G13) to have a #5th and #9th. You can also change the base line to the bII7 (Db7) and just use the substitution instead.

I would like to bring up on more point. These voicings can be used with base line or root in left hand and the voicing in the right. Doing this you can get a complete two dimensional harmony of the progression, base line and harmony.

You can also play the voicing in the left hand and improvise or play a melody in the right hand. With a little practice you should be able to play many tunes. In some cases you may not like the I Major 9th or Im #7,9 chords. This is why I included the moving voice from 7th to 6th. To give an awareness of the 6th chords with or without the 9th. In some cases you may not like the 13th on the V chord etc. With a little alteration of the basic voicing you can make adjustments and pickup quite a bit of ability to play piano. When harmonizing a melody you may find using the G7b9, by taking the V13b9 and moving the 13th to the 5th, fits the melody better in some situations. With a little work you will be able to play many tunes this way.

Page Last Updated: November 21, 2005 | Email: cgrey0224@comcast.net

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