Learn Cocktail Piano: Open Piano Chord Voicings

The concept of open piano chord voicings is certainly familiar to you if you have spent any significant amount of time having fun with ProProach. If you have yet to experience this popular piano chord voicings program, let’s just take a brief sample of how open piano chord voicings can add that “special something” to your piano playing:

Let’s take a look at a basic 7th chord… Fmaj7 (“F major seven”)

Learn to play cocktail piano with all the wonderful tools available at Piano Amore!

Learn to play cocktail piano with all the wonderful tools available at Piano Amore!

The Fmaj7 chord, in its most basic form is as follows:

F A C E

When you play this chord on the piano in this particular formation, you are actually playing a chord in “closed” position. This makes sense when you consider that the chord tones in this chord are as close to together as they can be, which means that there are no chord tones in between the ones we see here (there is no F in between the chord tones we are playing… there is no F in between F and A, between A and C, or between C and E. Likewise, there is no A in between any of the other chord tones; nor is there a C or a E in between any of the other chord tones. They are all close together.

Now if we play a little game with this chord structure by taking one of the chord tones and repositioning it, we will have something a bit different (yet still the same chord)… Play this formation, starting with the F that is one octave below middle C:

F C E A

You will notice that we have moved the A to the top of the structure. Sooooo… even though there is an A in between the F and C, we are not playing it. Instead, we are playing the A one octave higher. This chord is now said to be in “open” position. Play the first Fmaj7 in its basic position and then play this open chord voicing for Fmaj7 and listen to each. Wow! This is a real eye-opener (and ear-opener!) for many who experience this for the first time.

Can you see (and hear) how playing this chord in open position might lend itself to a more tasteful sound when playing that chord in some of your favorite standard songs? Here is one example: If we are playing a ballad and the chord is Fmaj7 with a melody note of A. Taking a look at our open piano chord voicing above, can you see that the melody note is actually the same note as the top note of the chord voicing? Therefore, would you say that this piano chord voicing might be a tasteful choice when beginning this song? Absolutely!

Actually, as a cocktail pianist, you’ll want to immerse yourself in more and more of these open chord voicings. They are sure to add dimension to your playing. This is a sure way to enhance your personal piano playing style!

The more you “open” yourself up to playing more open voicings (pun intended), the more doors you will open when it comes to getting a more tasteful, professional sound at those keys. It’s a great way to turn heads in a room! You see, even though those listening may not know theoretically how you are playing those voicings, they can certainly hear that the player (you) has a handle on what he or she is doing musically.

Have fun as you “open your world” to more and more possibilities when it comes to the art of mastering those piano chord voicings!