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Skip to 0 minutes and 7 seconds Our final topic - theoretical topic on this session - is on something I call “chordal shifting”. I’m not sure any other author will consider it, or has a name for it. I don’t know, but I call it chordal shifting. I’m going to look at 2 aspects of it called “parallel” - which I call “parallel” and “transitional”. Now, I’m not expecting you to do this. I just want you to know it exists. At least, it exists in my playing and at the end of this course I’m going to do a couple of sessions where I play, I hope, with some authenticity and you may see me doing it. In fact, I may even have done it, without meaning to, already.

Skip to 0 minutes and 52 seconds I want you to know it exists. I don’t really want you to worry about how do you do it. Let me give you some examples. Parallel - first of all. Take C minor7, take the fourth voicing. Then, as you know, you can move that voicing up and down - parallel to itself, staying on the mode. It occurs in “So What” where we have a fourth chord, and D minor7 lasts for a long time so we can shift this around.

Skip to 1 minute and 31 seconds So this is typical when you’ve got several bars where the chord stays the same - you want to do something interesting in the left hand - you don’t want to keep it just static, so you move it around on the scale. That’s parallel motion. The other one, of course, is the third inversion. Again, you can move that parallel to itself on the scale. Sometimes I tend to change the notes a little bit. I might - if I’m going up - move onto the fourth finger, like that.

Skip to 2 minutes and 6 seconds because it’s - I don’t know why - I think it feels a bit easier to move up and down. So the chord may change a little bit. That’s a minor seventh. What about a major seventh? Take C major7 and take the 6/9 shape, or the thicker version of it and then, again, if you’ve got loads of C major7 you can move it around. Or the other voicing.

Skip to 2 minutes and 38 seconds One doesn’t tend to do it with sevenths. If you take a seventh - C7 - you don’t tend to move it parallel to itself because you get chords that don’t really work very well. So the way in which we have parallelism with sevenths is, as you know, chromatic anticipation, or taking the chord and moving it down a tone. Of course A flat is not in C Dorian. So it’s really - this is C7 and this B flat7. An example of that occurs in the blues “Freddie Freeloader”, as I’ve told you before. So it doesn’t tend to apply so much there. That’s parallel motion. What about transitional motion?

Skip to 3 minutes and 20 seconds Transitional motion of chords is when you shift the chord from one chord to another chord using intermediate shapes. I’m going to give you an example which we’re going to look at in the next section, this wonderful standard of Kaper and Washington’s called “On Green Dolphin Street”. There we have at the end of the A section - the last bars 7 and 8 - we have 2 bars of E flat major7 - that’s the voicing we’ll use - and then it comes into 1 bar of F minor7. Then the closest chord would be that for F minor7. But supposing we choose to use this voicing for F minor7 - maybe something to do with where it goes afterwards.

Skip to 4 minutes and 7 seconds It’s quite a jump from there to there. So what I do is to fill in in between with 4 note chords that get me down to that position. I’ve given you an example here. I’ve, kind of, watched myself doing it and this was, on that particular occasion, what I ended up doing. I’m not claiming I would do that every time. I think I might, you know, vary it a bit, but let me have a look at it. I’ve gone like this, I’ve gone like this, then I’ve gone like this and like that. So there’s 2 bars of E flat major and I’m playing.

Skip to 4 minutes and 49 seconds I’m moving - transiting the chord from E flat major7 - 6/9 version - down to that lower version of F minor7. If you look at it in terms of what are the actual shapes I’m playing, then you could say well that’s E flat major7 - 6/9 with a thickening note, that’s A flat7 - thirteenth voicing with a thickening note, that’s D flat major7 - 6/9 with a thickening note. I’m not quite sure what that is. It’s probably C7 altered, which has a sharp 9 in it, but you’re playing it with a flat 9. and then that’s our standard shape for F minor7, third inversion.

Skip to 5 minutes and 36 seconds What I’m saying is that I won’t necessarily play that every time. I might, for example, get to F minor7 from F sharp minor7, rather from that, but I would kind of move in steps - in stages, from one chord that I want down to another chord that I want. Because I’ve been playing this music for so many years I, kind of, do it intuitively and if you were to challenge me and say what are the notes you’re playing at that particular point, I probably wouldn’t know. So why am I telling you about this?

Skip to 6 minutes and 12 seconds I’m telling you about it because, as I’ve said, in the last couple of sessions I want to play with some authenticity and you will see me doing sometimes chordal shifting and I want you to, at least, know where it comes from and that I’m using it. I have no doubt other pianists use it as well, but they probably don’t have a name for it. Let’s now look at this tune “On Green Dolphin Street”.

Chordal shifting (i) parallel (ii) transitional

I illustrate a device which I sometimes use, to some extent intuitively, which I call parallel and transitional chordal shifting - not that I generally want you to employ this device, but I just want you to recognise it, if and when I am using it.

You can download the chart for “Chordal shifting example” in PDF format at the bottom of this step.

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Learn Jazz Piano: III. Solo Piano and Advanced Topics

Goldsmiths, University of London