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Sept. 21, 2021

Locked Hands, Major Voicings

This JazzPianoSkills Podcast Episode explores traditional Locked Hands Major 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 Major Voicings. In this Jazz Piano Lesson you will:

Traditional Locked Hands Major Voicings

How to harmonize the major sound using traditional Locked Hands Voicings

Traditional Locked Hands Major 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 Major Voicings.

Open Podcast Packets
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Lead Sheets
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Play Alongs
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Educational Support
Community Forum

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

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Thank you for being a JazzPianoSkills listener. It is my pleasure to help you discover, learn, and play jazz piano!

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 we are going to continue our exploration of traditional locked hands voicings, you are going to discover the traditional locked hands approach for the major sound. And you're going to learn how to harmonize major scales and arpeggios using traditional locked hands. And you're going to play traditional locked hands for the major 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, intermediate player, an 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's voicings for the major sound to be very beneficial. As always, I want to welcome first-time listeners to the jazz panel skills podcast. And if you're new to jazz piano skills, I want to personally invite you to become a jazz piano skills member. Visit jazz piano skills comm to learn more about the abundance of jazz educational resources, materials, and services that are readily available for you to use to help you become more of an accomplished jazz pianist. For example, the educational podcast packets are available for every jazz panel skills member the illustrations, the lead sheets, the play alongs that I develop and I produce for every single weekly podcast episode. As a jazz panel skills member you also have access to the sequential jazz piano curriculum, which is loaded with comprehensive courses, all of them using a self-paced format, educational talks, interactive media video demonstrations play alongs, and much much more. Also, as a jazz panel skills member, you have a reserved seat for the online weekly masterclasses, which are in essence, a one-hour online lesson with me each and every week. And also as a jazz panel skills member, you have access to the private jazz piano skills community, which hosts a variety of engaging forums, podcast-specific forums, as well as core-specific forums as well as general jazz piano forums. All of that for you to enjoy as often as you wish. And last but certainly not least, as a jazz panel skills member you have unlimited, private, personal, and professional educational support whenever and as often as you need it. So again, I encourage you to visit jazz piano to learn more about all the educational opportunities and how you can easily activate your membership. If you have any questions. Any questions at all please let me know. I am always happy to help. Likewise, I

want to remind everyone to check out the jazz panel skills blog. Whether you are a jazz piano skills member or not, you can enjoy reading some additional insights regarding the jazz panel Skill of the Week The Jazz panel skill that we discuss and explore. In the episode in the podcast episode, you will find the blog link in the menu bar running across the top of the page at jazz piano skills Or you can scroll to the bottom of the page and you'll see an entire blog section. I 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 hopefully provide you with some additional words of encouragement and inspiration as well. So be sure to check out my blog and let me know what you think. Your feedback is always welcome and I appreciate it very, very much. Okay. So let's discover, learn and play jazz piano let's discover, learn and play traditional life. Hands voicings for the major sound. So just in case you haven't been listening to the podcast episodes for the last two weeks, in which I presented an overview and description of what the jazz world is referring to when discussing lock hands, I thought I would just do another quick recap. Okay. So in last week's episode, as well as the episode The week, prior to last week, right the last two weeks, I presented an outline of the locked hands approach the locked hand style that I literally lifted from Wikipedia, which I stressed in both of those episodes that I want to stress again today, I don't normally do that, or rely on Wikipedia. But in this case, Wikipedia is actually spot on and provides a very succinct, and concise definition of what is referred to as locked hands. And Wikipedia describes the lock hand style as a technique of chord voicings for the piano. That was popular popularized by jazz pianist George sharing, and it was a way to implement the block chord method of harmony on a keyboard instrument. Now the lock hands technique requires the pianist to play the melody in octaves, right using both hands. Typically, the little finger in the right hand with the thumb in the left hand, one octave apart, playing the melody. The right-hand plays at four-note chord inversion, and which the melody note is the highest note in the voicing in the little finger. And the other three notes of the quarter voiced as closely as possible below the melody note, which is the definition of a block chord, and the left-hand doubles that melody one octave lower, typically with the thumb, playing that note in the left hand. Now to achieve this result, the piano hands must be placed close together, obviously right is what they're one octave apart on the keyboard and both hands move simultaneously always in the same direction. And to anyone looking on to any observer, the pianist's hands appeared to be what, locked together. The technique had been employed by numerous jazz pianos prior to sharing, such as Fillmore Duke Ellington, Count Basie, red garland to name just a few. But Sharon said he was the first he was first exposed to it through Milt Buckner the pianos for Lionel Hampton and the musician considered actually considered to be the originator of this technique. The harmonic technique was also used in the horn arrangements of the Glenn Miller Big Band, and it's the staple of modern Big Band arranging. Again, check out Wikipedia for an excellent succinct summary of the locked hands approached. And as I've mentioned in the last two podcasts, this approach is used by practically every jazz pianist on planet Earth. So the bottom line is this Indian spot aspiring jazz pianist. She has been time studying and practicing this iconic jazz piano sound. And that is why I have been dedicating several podcast episodes to introducing you to this sound and walking you through the construction of these essential voicings so that you can begin to successfully study, practice and use them in your own plane. So with all that being said, let's get effort. Let's discover learning play locked hands for the major sound, major voicings.

So the educational agenda for today is as follows. Number one, I am going to present seven locked hands voicings, one for each note of the major scale and I'm going to use the Ionian mode today. And number two, I am going to present 10 exercises that focus on compact scale and arpeggio motion to minute minimize linear movement, which I always recommend when learning any new jazz piano skill. Number three, I am going to present one exercise that spans the entire scale from the root to the seventh, using locked hands, and one exercise that plays the scale as an arpeggio spanning from the root to the 13th using locked hands. All in all, I will be presenting the total of 12 exercises today, just as I did with the minor locked hand sound, and last week with the dominant locked hand sound number four, I will begin stroking all the voices today using the traditional locked hand's approach, and I will be playing all demonstration stay all exercises using a template of 120. As always, I recommend using slower tempos 60 7080 whenever you begin to physically explore any new jazz piano scale, so I'm using 120, just for the sake of time. So this jazz panel skills lesson, as were the last two podcast episodes lessons dealing with harmonizing the minor and dominant scales using locked hands this lesson, exploring locked hands for the major sound, the major scale is a biggie. It will forever change how you think about scales and arpeggios and it will forever changed how you play scales and arpeggios and it will dramatically change your jazz piano sound. If you are a jazz piano skills member, I want you to take a few minutes right now to pause this episode and download and print the illustrations and the lead sheets packets. You have access to all of the podcast packets and you should have stressed this every week. You should be using them when listening to the podcast episode and of course, you should be using them when practicing. If you're listening to this podcast on any of the pod popular podcast directories such as Apple and Google, Amazon, Spotify, I Heart Radio, Pandora, and so on. Then to access the podcast packets go to jazz piano skills podcast comm check out the show notes and you will find the links the active links to access the podcast packets and to in the links to download them. Again jazz panel skills check out the show notes and you will find the links to the podcast packets. And one final but extremely important note that I include in every podcast episode. If you are listening to this and you're thinking that the traditional lock hands for the major voicings that we are about to discover learn and play your if you're thinking that these lock hands voicings are in some ways or even if you feel they are all the way over your head then I would say to you Okay, so what? Who cares big deal? No. Because here's the reality, every jazz panel skill is over our head when it is first introduced. So continue to listen continue to grow your jazz panel skills intellectually by listening to this podcast episode. And remember, that's the first step to accomplishing or mastering any jazz piano skill is number one being introduced to it and listening, listening. All musical growth begins upstairs mentally before it can come out downstairs physically in your hands. So listen, take in what you can to discover, and learn this jazz piano skill today. The play will come in time, it always does. I guarantee it. So today, I am going to demonstrate everything using the C major scale. Right The classic C major scale Ionian mode,

C D, E, F, G A B. So our first two Lok hand voicings right, we're going to start with C and our right-hand middle C right-hand little finger or thumb left-hand c an octave below. That's our melody note. We're going to fill in that octave in the right hand with the notes E and B. So I played all together it sounds like this classic locked hand major voicing basically have a C major seven in first inversion in the right hand with C being treated as the melody note. And that note C doubled in the left hand, one octave lower. Now, to move to the second note of the scale the note D. We're going to keep the guts of the locked hands exactly the same. And we're just going to move our melody note in our left hand our thumb up to D and our right hand our little finger up to D Now when I play that voicing it sounds like this Beautiful. replace them side by side, seeing the melody. D is the melody, again, C is the melody, the melody. Very nice. So now what I want to do is I want to bring the ensemble in. I want to place both of these shapes into a musical context. I want to get comfortable with the shapes first going back and forth. And then once I'm comfortable with the shapes, I play around a little bit rhythmically, right? Add a little rhythmic vocabulary to those two shapes. See what kind of melodic motifs I can come up with keeping it very, very simple. Do not overplay. Right, we just do not want to overplay because the primary objective here is getting these shapes under our fingers, getting comfortable with these shapes, and they sound. So let's bring the ensemble and let's drop it into a musical context and see what we think. Here we go check it out.

Very nice, right, just two shapes, seeing the melody, C as the melody and D as the melody that so we're going to be using these two note groupings. As we learn our lock hands major voicings through the entire C major sound. So the next two-note grouping is going to involve the third E and the fourth, F. Okay, so our right hand, our little finger is going to play the melody note which is e, our left hand with our thumb is going to double that melody note one octave lower E. And our right hand is going to fill in the voicing with G and D. As I've explained in the previous podcast episodes, you, you can actually play G, A, B, and C, treating it like a C major seven in the second inversion. Firstly, I like to substitute the ninth or the second for the route. Either voice in either shape is going to be just fine. So one of the reasons I I'd like to prefer that I prefer keeping the ninth replacing the route with a ninth is because again now to move to my next melodic note, which would be the F, everything stays the same, except for the melody note, right. So the guts of the lock hands remains G, B, and D. and My Melody note my e in the left-hand moves up to F and my little finger in the right-hand moves up the F with my G B and D in the middle. So I get this. So he has melody. F is the melody is the melody. F is the melody. Now before we bring the ensemble in I want to say that some of these sounds I should have stressed this in the previous podcast episodes as well. Whenever you take voicings and you actually isolate them as we're doing here, for the sake of learning them. Sometimes some of these shapes are going to be a little harsh, a little hard on the ears. Keep in mind, the objective here is to get familiar with mentally conceptually, and physically the shapes. It's not about making an assessment of whether or not that voicing in this limited context. Sounds good, because sometimes it's going to challenge your ears, the fourth, the pure fourth and the major scale will always do just that. So I'm going to try to make this work as musically as I possibly can. As I move between The E is the melody. And the f is a melody these two shapes. So let's bring the ensemble and let's check it out. See what we think. Here we go.

Not bad, not bad, right, the fourth, whether it's the pure fourth in the major scale, or even if it's the Lydian mode with the sharp four, the fourth is always a tricky note, to maneuver to play, right? Especially landing on it, on strong beats, can be a little harsh on the ears. Keep that in mind. Okay, so now let's move on to our next to note pair, which is going to involve the fifth of the scale, the note G, and the sixth of the scale, the note a. So our melody is going to be played in octaves between the right hand and left hand, there's our G little finger and the right hand, thumb in the left hand. And I'm going to fill in that octave with the notes in the right hand with the notes B, D, and E. So my voicing sounds like this. Very nice. Again, the guts of the of the locked hands are going to stay the same. And I'm going to move the melody from G up to a just like that one, change g of a loving, once again, G and now a beautiful. So let's bring the ensemble and let's drop these two shapes into a musical setting musical context. We're going to play it just really simple. not try to overplay keep it nice and relaxed. Once I'm comfortable with both shapes, try to add some rhythmic vocabulary to discover some nice melodic motifs. So here we go. Let's check it out, see what we think.

Nice. So we have now harmonized using locked hands, the root and second, the third and the fourth, and the fifth and the sixth. In all three of those scenarios. The locked hand structure remains the same. The only thing changing is the melody note between each pair of notes between the root and the second, between the third and the fourth, and between the fifth and the sixth. We only have one other note of the major sound to harmonize and that is the seventh in ob. So once again, that melody notes going to be played in octaves between the two hands. A lot of finger with B in the right hand. Thumb with B The left hand. Now I'm just going to fill in that octave with the notes C, E, and G. So basically, I have a C major seven and root position in my right hand, and the melody note B, top note doubled one octave lower. Left. That's it. So I'm going to group that with my six to create a nice pair, I'm gonna have my a, go into my seventh. My a, my seventh might be nice, nice combination. So let's bring the ensemble in. Let's drop these two shapes into musical context. Musical setting. Again, I do not want to overplay I want to keep this simple. Once I'm comfortable with both shapes, add a little rhythmic vocabulary rhythmic variation, to discover some nice melodic motif simple motifs. So here we go. Let's bring the ensemble in. Let's check it out.

So we have now harmonized the entire C major scale, using traditional lock hands, sounds like this.

Nice gone down.

We're gonna deal with an exercise at the end of the podcast episode dealing with scales and arpeggios. But I just wanted you to hear that right now because it sounds so good. So we now move from two-note groupings to three-note groupings. And if you've been listening to the podcast, you know the reason why we go to a three-note grouping is because now we can utilize both types of melodic motion that exist in music, scale motion, and arpeggio motion. Both types of motion can go either direction, one of two directions, right, up or down. These are musical facts. So if I'm take my C major scale with my melody, note B and C, D, and E. There's nice scale motion from seed c up to E, ascending and descending. And we have arpeggio motion from C to E and from E back down to C. So two types of motion scale and arpeggio. Now if we play those three melodic notes together as a grouping using locked hands, we get this nice, lush, thick, dense voicings. Wonderful. So let's bring the ensemble in. Let's see what these three notes grouped together sound like. Again, get comfortable with the shapes, add some rhythmic variation, some rhythmic vocabulary to discover some melodic motifs using scale and arpeggio motion ascending and descending. So here we go. Let's check it out and see what we think.

Pretty darn cool, right? Pretty darn cool. So now we're going to, we're going to utilize the exact same approach and work through the entire sound all the way up to the 13th. Right. So now our three notes that we're going to use as melody are going to be the notes, E, F, and G. So our third, or fourth, and our fifth. Again, keep in mind that fourth is kind of a tricky note to navigate. To make sound good, we've got to be careful how we land on that, to kind of minimize the tension caused by that fourth, that half step right next to the third. So let's bring the ensemble in. And let's see what these three-note this three-note grouping sounds like in lock hands style, using the locked hands approach, using scale and arpeggio motion ascending and descending. Once again, going to keep it simple. Add some rhythmic vocabulary, you want some comfortable with the shapes to discover some nice melodic motifs. Okay, here we go. Let's check it out.

Not too bad, not too bad at all. So we've moved from the root to the third using scaling arpeggio motion, we've now moved from the third to the fifth using scale and arpeggio motion. We're now going to move from the fifth from the note G to the seventh, the note B. motion which of course would include the note a, and arpeggio motion from G to B. We have our fifth, we have our six, and we have our seven. So we're going to utilize the exact same approach with this three-note grouping. We're going to get used to the shapes first and foremost using scale and arpeggio motion. And then once we do that, we're going to add some rhythmic vocabulary to discover some nice melodic motifs. So here we go. Let's bring the ensemble and let's check it out and see what we think.

I mentioned earlier in the podcast that we intentionally Minimize the linear movement in order to successfully master the shapes and the sounds of the lot hands, right, we minimize linear movement. Because the objective here is to get comfortable with the shapes the various entry points and destination points within the sound utilizing these shapes. So we do not start off I, I highly recommend not starting off by trying to play through the entire scale or the entire arpeggio, from the root to the 13th are from the root to the seventh with the shapes until not until you have these shapes under your hands nailed down conceptually, and then under your hands physically. And the best way to do that is to minimize linear movement, just as we are doing today, using two-note groupings and using three-note groupings. So okay, so let's move on. So now we begin with the seventh is our melody, the note B, utilize scale motion, up to the ninth to the note D. And also arpeggio motion from B to D. So we're going to place all three of those notes, our root, I mean, our seventh, our root and our ninth, it using locked hands, we're gonna play all three of those notes using locked hand voicings. And once again, we're going to drop those into a musical setting context, we're going to move using a scale motion ascending and descending, and some arpeggio motion, ascending and descending as well. Once we're comfortable with the shapes, we again, add some rhythmic vocabulary to discover some melodic motifs. And see what we come up with. Again, keep it very simple, do not overplay. So here we go. Let's bring the ensemble and let's check it out.

Very nice. Now we're going to use the notes D, E, and F are ninth, our third, and our 11th. Our fourth. And this gets a little tricky, right because that fourth can be tough like I mentioned earlier, tough note to navigate around, it causes some serious tension. So again, the objective here is to get comfortable with the shapes or not. I always say we're placing these into a musical context in which we are. However, it's a very limited musical context again, because we're minimizing our linear movement. So it's going to be interesting, right? I have to navigate around that sound with that forth and be careful how I land on it, to try to minimize the tension that's caused by it. So nevertheless, we're gonna play we're going to tackle the these three notes, the D, the E, the F, the ninth, the third, and the 11th. using traditional walk hands, major voicings and we're going to get used to the shapes moving back and forth using scale ascending and descending motion, as well as arpeggio motion and see what we can come up with rhythmically and melodically right, so this shouldn't be fun. So let's check it out and see what we think.

Alright, so now we only have one free note grouping left to deal with, right, and it's going to incorporate the fourth or the 11th, note F, the fifth note G, and the six the note a or the 13th. Right. Once again, we have that fourth we have to deal with, so we have to be careful, we already know the the tension that can cause so we just have to be careful. And again, our primary objective here is getting comfortable with the shapes, the shapes and the sounds, and the movement scale motion and arpeggio motion. Right, like I said, we placed them into a musical context. But again, it's a very limited musical context because we've limited our linear movement. So here we go, we're going to play the fourth, the fifth, and the six using traditional locked hand voicings for the major sound, ascending and descending using scale and arpeggio motion. So let's bring the ensemble and let's check it out and see what we think Here we go.

So far, we have done a very thorough approach, we have utilized a very thorough approach to studying these locked hands voicings for the major sound, right using two-note and three-note groupings, moving through the sound from the root to the seventh, and then moving through the sound from the root all the way through the 13th. So now what we want to do if we feel comfortable with these shapes, we want to now tackle them using pure scale motion, and pure arpeggio motion. So we'll start with pure scale motion. So I'm going to bring the ensemble in and I'm going to play all seven notes at the scale ascending and descending, start using lock hands, voicing each note using traditional locked hands. I'm going to begin using basically half notes, give myself some time to move from one shape to the next shape. Then you'll see me adjust and move into quarter notes. And this is just a great way to kind of test your skills once you feel that you're comfortable with these voicings with the shapes and with the sounds using the traditional lock hands. This is a great way to test your skills to see how well you really do have these shapes and sounds under control conceptually and physically. So here we go. Let's bring the ensemble in. And let's use some pure scale motion from the root to seventh and back down using traditional lock hand voicings. So here we go. Check it out.

Pretty cool, right pretty challenging. Now, to add another layer of complexity instead of using just straight scale motion. Now let's utilize arpeggio motion from the root to the 13th. So we're going to move, root, third 579 1113 using locked hands, going straight up the arpeggio all the way through the sound and straight, descending through the sound as well. And again, I'm going to use half notes. Initially, as I move through the arpeggio as I move through the sound, using the arpeggio, and then I will condense that into quarter notes moving through the sound using arpeggio motion, so this should be fun as well. So let's check it out and see what we think. Here we go.

As always, as always, we try to unpack as much as we possibly can, within each and every podcast episode within within an hour, and today was certainly no exception. Traditional major locked hands voicings without question, without doubt, is an essential jazz piano skill that will require much thought. Intense study and of course relentless practice. This is the case with any voicings, whether they're locked hand voicings, contemporary quarter voicings, it makes no difference right. When you start studying voicings, these shapes, various shapes and sounds, and ways to play them. It will always require much thought, intense study and relentless practice. I want to encourage you as always, to map out these voicings on paper when I call paper practice and use the podcast packets, the illustrations in the lead sheets to guide you to assist you. The illustrations, as you will notice, include paper practice template that you can use for mapping out the harmonization of all 12 major scales. You've heard me say this over and over and over and over again. conceptual understanding determines your physical development, your physical success. So the time you invest in studying the time you invest in mapping out the traditional lock hands voicings, it's time well spent, I can't even stress how I can't even stress the importance of doing it. And I can't even begin to illuminate for you the enormous return on your investment in doing so. Most of all, most of all, be patient. This is a big Time jazz piano skill that will require much time to digest mentally and physically. structure your physical practice after the plane demonstrations that I modeled for you in this podcast episode and you will begin to see you will begin to feel you will begin to hear your musical progress I guarantee it. Well, I hope you have found this jazz piano skills podcast lesson exploring the traditional locked hand's voicings for the major sound to be insightful and is always beneficial. Don't forget if you are a jazz piano skills member I will see you online Thursday evening at the jazz piano skills masterclass 8 pm Central time to discuss this podcast episode lesson exploring the traditional locked hand's voicings for the major sound in greater detail and to answer any questions that you may have about the study of jazz and jazz piano in general. Again, as a jazz piano skills member, be sure to use the educational podcast packets, the illustrations, lead sheets play alongs for this podcast lesson and be sure to use the jazz piano skills courses. Use both to maximize your musical growth. Likewise, make sure you are an active participant in the jazz piano skills community. Get involved and contribute to the various forums. Most importantly, make sure you make some new jazz piano friends always a great thing to do. As always, you can reach me by phone 972-380-8050 my office extension is 211 by email Dr. Lawrence Dr. Lawrence at jazz piano skills calm or by speakpipe found throughout the jazz piano skills website. Well, there is my cue. That's it for now. And until next week, enjoy the traditional major lock hands voicings, enjoy the journey. And most of all, have fun as you discover, learn and play jazz piano