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Oct. 5, 2021

Locked Hands, Diminished Voicings

This JazzPianoSkills Podcast Episode explores traditional Locked Hands Diminished Voicings.

Welcome to JazzPianoSkills; it's time to discover, learn, and play Jazz Piano!

Every JazzPianoSkills weekly podcast episode introduces aspiring jazz pianists to essential Jazz Piano Skills. Each Podcast episode explores a specific Jazz Piano Skill in depth. Today you will discover, learn, play traditional Locked Hands Half Diminished Voicings. In this Jazz Piano Lesson you will:

Traditional Locked Hands Diminished Voicings

How to harmonize the diminished sound using traditional Locked Hands Voicings

Traditional Locked Hands Diminished Voicings from the Root through the 7th

For maximum musical growth, be sure to use the Jazz Piano Podcast Packets for this Jazz Piano Lesson. All three Podcast Packets are designed to help you gain insight and command of a specific Jazz Piano Skill. The Podcast Packets are invaluable educational tools to have at your fingertips while studying and practicing traditional Locked Hands Half Diminished Voicings.

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Lead Sheets
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Play Alongs
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Episode Outline
Discover, Learn, Play
Invite to Join JazzPianoSkills
Exploration of Jazz Piano Skills
Closing Comments

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Warm Regards,
Dr. Bob Lawrence
President, The Dallas School of Music



Welcome to jazz piano skills. I'm Dr. Bob Lawrence, it's time to discover, learn and play jazz piano. Today you are going to discover traditional lock hands. For the diminished sound. You are going to learn how to harmonize the many scales and arpeggios using traditional locked hands. And you're going to play traditional lock hands for the diminish sound, from the root through the seventh of the sound using scale motion, and from the root through the 13th of the sound using arpeggio motion. So as I always like to say regardless of where you are in your jazz journey, a beginner an intermediate player, and advanced player or even if you are a seasoned and experienced professional, you will find this jazz panel skills podcast lesson exploring the traditional locked hand voicings for the dominie sound to be very beneficial. If you are a new listener to jazz panel skills podcast if you're new to jazz piano skills, I want to personally invite you to become a jazz piano skills member. Simply visit jazz piano skills comm to learn more about the abundance of jazz educational resources, materials, and services that are available for you to use, available to help you become an accomplished jazz pianist. For example, all of the educational podcast packets, the illustrations the lead sheets the play alongs that I develop and I produce for every weekly podcast episode are available for you to access and download and to use when practicing. As a jazz piano skills member you also have access to the sequential jazz piano curriculum which is loaded with comprehensive courses using a self paced format, educational talks, interactive media video demonstrations, play alongs, and much more. You also as a jazz panel skills member have a reserved seat in the online weekly masterclasses, which are in essence, private, one-hour lessons with me each and every week. And also as a as a jazz piano skills member, you have access to the private jazz piano skills community, which hosts a variety of engaging forums, podcast-specific forums, course-specific forums, and of course, General jazz piano forums. And last but certainly not least, as a jazz panel skills member, you have unlimited, unlimited, private, personal, and professional educational support provided by me whenever and as often as you need it again, visit jazz piano to learn more about all of the educational opportunities that await you and how to easily activate your jazz piano skills membership. If you have any questions, any questions at all, please let me know. I'm always happy to spend time with you. And to help you in any way that I can. I also want to remind everyone to check out the jazz piano skills blog. Whether you are a jazz piano skills member or not, you can enjoy reading some additional insights regarding the jazz piano Skill of the Week. And you will find the blog link in the menu bar right across the top the page at jazz piano skills Or once you're once you arrive at jazz piano skills podcast that calm you can just simply scroll to the bottom of the page and you'll see an entire blog section. I like to take some time at the end of each week to jot down my final thoughts about the jazz panel skill explored in the weekly podcast episode. And provide you with some words of encouragement and inspiration as well. So be sure to check out the blog and let me know what you think your feedback always, always is welcomed and very much appreciated. Okay, let's discover, learn and play jazz piano. Let's discover learn and play traditional locked hands voicing For the diminished sound, Today is a big day because we wrap up a five-week series, exploring the locked hand's approach to harmonizing melodic lines.

We started back on September 7, with the minor sound, followed by the dominant and major sounds, with last week being devoted to the half diminished style, and today, of course, the diminished sound. In the first three episodes, I shared with you a very nice, accurate, and concise description of what the jazz world is referring to when talking about locked hands. And last week, we listened to Milt Buckner, the originator of the technique, locked hands, we listened to melt Buckner played jersey bounds using lock hands not only on the head, the melody of the tune but throughout his entire solo, which was quite impressive indeed. However, today, I want to share with you what I consider to be perhaps the best treatment of locked hands ever performed by any jazz pianist. Now, please keep in mind that this is just simply my humble opinion. But I think most jazz pianists would agree. In fact, I think anyone would have a difficult time coming up with another recording. Another performance that even comes close to the locked hands, virtuosity that you're about to hear. So to home, and what recording, am I speaking of which, with such jazz reverence? Well, none other than the great Oscar Peterson and his performance of tenderly with basis Ray brown and guitar guitarist herb Ellis, which by the way, Herb Ellis is another North Texas graduate, go north Texas. So let's all sit back and enjoy this amazing performance. And if you have not heard this before, get ready to pick your jaw up off the floor when it's over. Okay. It's amazing and if you have heard it before, sit back to just enjoy it. I know you know you're in for a treat again, right? So okay, so here we go. Oscar Peterson, with Ray Brown and her ballasts. Playing tenderly check out this performance. And check out how Oscar uses the locked hands. Here we go.

You know what I don't even know what to say. I've heard this recording I don't know 1000s of times literally and every time I I am always left just simply amazed at Oscar Peterson and his plane but the lock hands you know the solo like he was just soloing with the locked hands is just amazing. It's a great sound right and that's what we've been addressing for the last month you know methodically going through the minor sound, the dominant the major last week, the half diminished sound in and out today to demanding sound so this is what we've been aiming towards right getting a way to approach understanding locked hands conceptually, and a way to approach practicing the lock hands physically. So today, the agenda the educational agenda for today is as follows. Number one, I'm going to present seven locked hands voicings one note, I mean one for each note of the diminished scale. And the diminished scale that I'm going to be using is the seventh mode of the harmonic minor, seventh mode of the harmonic minor, which is the scale the mode that presents that gives us the diminished sound. Number two, I am going to present 10 exercises that focus on compact scale, and arpeggio motion to minimize linear movement to help us get the shapes and sounds solidified conceptually, aurally and physically. In number three, I am going to present one exercise that spans the entire scale from the root to the seventh, and one exercise that plays the scale the diminish sound as an arpeggio spanning from the root to the 13th. All in all, I will be presenting just as I did with the minor dominant major and half diminished locked hands, I will be presenting a total of 12 exercises today. And number four, I will be constructing all the voice scenes with the traditional locked hand's approach. And finally number five I will be playing all demonstrations today all exercises using a temple of 120 and as always, I highly recommend using slower tempos 60 7080 whenever you begin to physically explore any new jazz piano skill. So this jazz piano skills lesson As, as were the last four podcast episodes dealing with the harmonizing of minor dominant major and half diminished sounds using scale and arpeggio motion. This lesson today, focusing on the diminished sound is huge. It will forever change how you think about scales how you think about arpeggios and harmonizing them, and it will forever change how you play them. And it will dramatically change your jazz piano sound.

So if you are a jazz piano skills member, please take a few minutes right now before we dig in, to download to access to download and print, the illustrations and the lead sheets. As a jazz panel skills member you have access to these podcast packets and you should absolutely be using them when listening to this podcast. And of course, you should be using them when practicing. And if you are listening to this podcast on any other popular podcast directories such as Apple or Google, Amazon, Spotify, I Heart Radio, Pandora, and any other then be sure to go to jazz panel skills To access and download the podcast packets, you will find the active links in the show notes. The active links are found in the show notes. And one final but extremely important message here. If you are thinking that the traditional locked hands, the diminished voicings that we are about to discover learn in play. If you're thinking that this jazz piano skills concept is in some way, or even if you think it is all the way over your head, then I would say to you so continue to listen continue to grow your jazz piano skills intellectually this is where it begins by listening to this podcast episode. The fact is, all skills are over our heads when first introduced. And that is precisely the first step we need to take in order to improve our musicianship to embrace concepts that are over our heads. And to listen, our musical growth begins upstairs mentally, conceptually, before it can come out downstairs physically in your hands. So listen, listen to this podcast lesson now to discover and to learn, the play will come in time, I guarantee it. Okay, so all demonstrations today are focusing on the C diminished sound. And the C diminished scale is C, D flat, E flat, F flat, G flat, a flat, A or B double flat or a right. So this is the seventh mode of the harmonic minor scale with the D flat harmonic minor scale. So I'm just gonna play C diminished in my left hand. And I'm gonna play this seventh mode of the harmonic minor scale or the diminished scale in my right hand.

Perfect Fit, beautiful. So that is what we are going to harmonize that scale those notes are what we're going to harmonize today using traditional lock hands. So each one of those notes of the scale is going to be treated as a melody note as if it is the melody note. Okay, so let's start with our first pair, our C and our D flat, right. So to voice our C using traditional lock hands, I'm going to place middle C with my little finger and my right hand. Play c one octave lower and my left hand with my thumb and I'm going to fill it in with the diminished sound with the E flat, G flat. So I get this one I played all together. Beautiful it's like C diminished in first inversion. With the seed doubled one octave lower in my left hand classic traditional locked hands voicing. Now to go to my D flat the next note in the scale the pair that up with the D flat. What we're going to do is move our octave melody our C's up the D flat. Everything in the middle stays the same the E flat the G flat and the A. So I'm going to place these two lock hands voicing side by side I get this nice so I want to do is bring the ensemble in dropped these locked hands into a musical context the musical setting, I want to get used to the shapes first and foremost, moving back and forth. Once I do going to add some rhythmic variation, some rhythmic vocabulary, use those voicings to create some rhythmic ideas to lead me to some melodic motifs. So let's bring out some blend. Let's check it out. And then we'll talk about it. Here we go.

Nice. I, I love the diminished sound, I think it's, I think it's fantastic. And you know what you hear it, you hear it all the time in jazz literature. And you hear it used to voice melodic lines, passing notes, neighboring tones, upper and lower neighboring tones, as well. And we'll get into more of that a little later down the road. But now let's move on to our second pair. So now, the next note in our mode or in our dominie scale is our E flat. And we're going to again, play that as an octave with my right hand, little finger on E flat, my left hand fall on E flat, one octave lower, fill it in with the right hand gonna fill it in with G flat, a, and C. So let me play that together. It sounds like this. Nice. Now, the next note that we're pairing it up with within the scale is the F flat or the E. So everything within the locked hands stays the same. It's just the melody note that's going to change. So I'm moving my octave from my E flat up to my f flat or the note E. So those two locked hands side by side sound like this again. So let's bring the ensemble back end. Let's drop these locked hands into a musical context. And let's get used to the shapes first, going back and forth. Then once used to the shapes, begin adding some rhythmic vocabulary, some rhythmic variation to help us discover some melodic motifs. So here we go. Let's check it out. And then we'll talk about it.

Nice, right so so far we're, we're following the same. We're taking the same approach that we that we applied to our minor, our Don our major and our half diminished lock hands where we practiced in two-note groupings, to kind of illuminate the fact that the inside of these locked hands are staying the same between these two nodes. It's just that the melody note itself is changing, right? Hopefully, you're starting to recognize and pick up on this pattern that we have been utilizing over the past month as we've looked at each sound using lock hands. So our next two-note pair, we're going to be using the G flat, the fifth of the sound, again, doubling using an octave between the right hand and the left hand. So on the right hand, I have my G flat on my little finger, and my thumb and my left hand playing G flat. And I'm going to fill it in with the demanding sound, with my right hand A, C, and E flat. So when I play together and get I get this sound, classic locked hands diminished. And once again, we're going to change our melody note to the six, which is a flat by just simply moving the outer voices. Moving the G flat in the right hand, the G flatten the left hand up to a flat. Love that. And the inside of the locked hands stay the same. So those two voicings side by side sound like this. Beautiful again. Awesome. So once again, let's bring the ensemble back in. Let's drop these voicings these locked hands into a musical context, a musical setting, get comfortable with the shapes and sounds first and foremost, then begin to add some rhythmic variation, some rhythmic vocabulary to help us discover some nice melodic motifs. So here we go. Let's check it out and see what we think.

Very nice. So now we only have one left note. One Note left, we only have one note left that the diminished scale or the diminished sound or the seventh mode of the harmonic minor to harmonize using large hands and that's the seventh which is the note A or B double flat which would be the eighth note a. So we're going to pair it up with the six that we just played the a flat and again we got a flat plate in anok. Using an octave with right-hand little finger on a flat, left-hand thumb on a flat and inside diminish sound a flat love it. And now going to our A or B double flat. And this is basically a C diminished chord in root position with the A the top note a B and doubled an octave lower my left hand with the thumb so those two voicings side by side sound like this.

So once again, we're bringing the ensemble back and dropping these two lock hand shapes these two lock hands sounds using a flat and B double flat or the node A as our melody note. using traditional locked hands, let's place it into musical context and see what we think. Use some rhythmic variation to discover some melodic motifs should be fun. Here we go. Check it out.

Okay we have now successfully taken the diminished scale the seventh mode of the harmonic minor and we have harmonized it from the root through the seventh we have harmonized it using traditional lock hands and how does it sound sounds like this

really nice and back down

so I just wanted you to hear it the entire scale harmonized using lock hands we're gonna do an exercise at the end of the podcast that utilizes scale motion but just what did you hear it right now because it sounds so good. So now that we have utilized to note groupings, to get these shapes and sounds sorted out conceptually and in our ears orally you know, and under our hands and our hands physically. Now we're going to use as we did with the minor and a dominant major and half diminished locked hands are now going to use three-note groupings. So that we have included at at our disposal, we have now scale motion, and arpeggio motion. So for example, C to D flat, E flat, straight scale motion, or just see up the E flat base arpeggio motion and E flat back bouncy arpeggio motion. So now I have scale and arpeggio motion at my fingertips. So now now I have a little bit more to work with. So let's bring the ensemble back in. Let's utilize this three-note grouping to create some melodic ideas using some rhythmic variation and utilizing ascending and descending scale and arpeggio motion. Wow. Let's check it out and see what we think. Here we go.

Very cool. Very cool. It's It's It's awesome right scale arpeggio motion you tend to think of scales and arpeggios spanning an octave or two octaves or three actors on the piano, not the case, right? We have three-note grouping that we can it recognize and utilize scale motion arpeggio motion within this little interval within this little minor minor third interval. So now we're going to move on we're gonna pair up E flat, F flat, the note E, and G flat. So we have this three-note groping flattery Again, we have scale and arpeggio motion. So let's bring the ensemble back in. Let's have some fun and explore ascending and descending scale and arpeggio motion using traditional lot hands. voicings, with the third, the fourth, and the fifth of the diminished scale. Here we go check it out.

So he told you that the diminished sound is awesome. Fantastic. So now that we've utilized scaling our major arpeggio motion from the root to the third, and we've and we've done scaling, our mid arpeggio motion explored scaling arpeggio motion from the third to the fifth. Now we're going to continue marching through the sound and we're going to use a three-note grouping that includes the fifth, the G flat, the six, a flat, and then, of course, the seventh, B double flat or the note a, again, G flat, a flat, B double flat gray. And once again, that little three-note grouping provides us scale, and arpeggio motion. So let's bring the ensemble in. Let's drop this three-note grouping into a musical context. And let's explore and see what we can discover rhythmically. And melodically, check it out.

Very, very nice. So now we are on to the seventh to the root to the ninth of the dominie sound. So we have a, b double flat a, or route C and R nine D flat. So once again, we have scale and arpeggio motion. This is an interesting grouping though because we have that minor third between our a and our C.

So we really have some nice arpeggio motion going here. So again, we're going to take this three-note grouping, voice it using traditional lock hands, utilize ascending and descending scale and arpeggio motion to create some rhythmic and melodic variations, rhythmic and melodic ideas. So here we go. Let's check it out and see what we think.

Very nice. So let's continue marching through the sound right, we've already covered everything from the root up to the ninth. Now we're going to take our ninth, our D flat, go to our third, E flat, and then our fourth, f flat or the note E, I should say the 11th. Right, that's how we're treating this. So we have our ninth flat, our third flat, and our fourth flat. Or, again, we have scale we have arpeggio, ascending and descending motion. And we're going to apply some rhythmic variation, some rhythmic vocabulary to this three-note grouping to discover some nice melodic motifs. So bring the ensemble back in. Let's drop them into a musical context, these locked hands and see what we discover, learn, and play. Here we go.

Love it, absolutely love it. So one, three-note grouping left to explore. And that's three-note grouping is going to begin with the 11th. The note E or F flat, going to the fifth, which is our G flat and going to our six or 13, a flat 11 513 e, or F flat, G flat, a flat, F. Again, once again, nice scale and arpeggio motion that we can move ascending or descending directions. And we're going to use these melodic lock hands, these locked hands to create melodic ideas using rhythmic variation, right same format, same structure we've been using, not only throughout this entire podcast exported many sound, but the same exact process that we we have utilized to explore the minor dominant major and half diminish sounds as well. So here we go. Let's bring the ensemble in. Let's see what we think. Here we go.

Very, very cool, awesome. So we have successfully taken the diminished sound, the diminished scale, the seventh mode Harmonic Minor, and we've harmonized it using traditional lock hands and we've done so with utilizing two-note groupings, and then three note groupings. And we utilize two-note groupings to explore from the root to the seventh, and three-note groupings to explore from the root all the way up through the 13th. When we added that third note, we had scale and arpeggio motion at our fingertips then that we can utilize to sharpen and develop our creativity. So now that we're comfortable with the shapes, right, harmonizing that diminish sound, and comfortable with the shapes, now we can actually turn our attention to plan an exercise that test our skills on moving from sound to sound through the entire scale, from the root through the seventh ascending, and of course, descending from the seventh back to the to the root. So that's exactly what I want to demonstrate right now. So I want to bring the ensemble in going to play the diminished sound using scale motion ascending and descending scale motion. going to start off by using just half notes, giving me a little time to think between each of the shapes that I'm going to move, move to quarter notes, right, so this should be fun. Let's see what happens. Here we go.

See, this is exactly why we start with two-note and three-note groupings. To learn these shapes and the sounds in these traditional lock hands, before we start playing them. Using the scale motion from the root to the seventh, right? only makes sense. We piecemeal everything together. Then we get to the scale. And then once we have the scale under our hands, right, we're comfortable with that moving, utilizing scale motion ascending and descending, we can ratchet it up another notch and say you know what, now we're going to now I'm going to practice arpeggio motion from the root through the 13th of the sound. Right and I'm going to do so using arpeggio motion so now it gets a little bit more challenging because we're going to spread that sound out from the root all the way up to the 13th. So now let's bring the ensemble in. I'm going to play this diminished sound from the root to the 13th. Utilizing traditional locked hands voicings can be a lot of fun. Here we go. Let's check it out.

I don't know about y'all but I'm tired. This has been a heck of a month hasn't getting through all these locked hand voicings for for all of the five the five primary sounds of music are major dominant minor, half diminished and diminished. It's been quite an endeavor, quite a feat. So we as always, we've unpacked a ton of information today and we've done so within an hour right these traditional diminished lat hand voicings, without doubt, without doubt, are gonna require much thought. Intense study and of course relentless practice not only to diminish but but all all the sounds right? To get this technique sorted out conceptually and in our ears orally and under our hands physically. For each of the primary sounds for our major dominant minor half diminished, diminished sounds. It's it's going to require much study and relentless practice, right? There's no shortcut. And with that being said, I want to encourage you as as I have done in the previous episodes, dealing with the locked hands, I want to encourage you to take the time to map out these voicings on paper, use the podcast packets, the illustrations, the lead sheets to guide you, right the illustrations include a paper practice template that you can use for mapping out the harmonization of all 12 diminished scales, the diminished sounds, all 12 of them. And as you've heard me say over and over and over again. Your conceptual understanding is what determines your physical development. So the time that you invest the time that you invest in studying and mapping out the traditional lot hands voicings, whether it's for the diminished or the major, the dominant, the minor, the half diminished, time spent time invested, the return on your investment, it just cannot be adequately expressed. And most of all, I think I've said this before to most of all, be patient. This is a big-time jazz panel skill that will take time to digest mentally and physically so structure your physical practice after the plane demonstrations that I modeled for you in this podcast episode and the previous four podcast episodes. If you do so you will begin to see you will begin to feel you will begin to hear and you will begin to apply your musical progress I guarantee you Well, I hope you have found this jazz piano skills podcast lesson I hope you have found this jazz piano skills Podcast Series exploring traditional locked hands voicings for all of the primary sounds major dominant minor, half diminished and diminished. I hope you found this series to be insightful and of course to be very beneficial. Don't forget if you are a jazz panel skills member I will see you online Thursday evening at the jazz panel skills masterclass 8 pm Central time to discuss this podcast episode lesson exploring the traditional lock hands voicings for the diminished sound in greater detail, and to answer any questions that you may have about the study of jazz in general. Again, as a jazz piano skills member Be sure to use the educational podcast packets, the illustrations, the lead sheets the play logs, not only for this podcast episode in this podcast lesson but for all of the pot my podcast episodes on lessons. Also, be sure to use the jazz panel skills courses to truly maximize your musical growth. Likewise, make sure you are an active participant in the jazz panel skills community get involved and contribute to the various forums and make some new jazz piano friends always a great thing to do. You can reach me by phone 972-380-8050 extension 211 by email Dr. Lawrence Dr. Lawrence at jazz piano or by speakpipe found throughout the jazz piano skills website. Well, there's my cue that That's it for now. And until next week, enjoy the traditional diminished, lock hands voice and enjoy the journey. Most of all, have fun as you discover, learn and play jazz piano