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Sept. 7, 2021

Locked Hands, Minor Voicings

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

Traditional Locked Hands Minor Voicings

How to harmonize the minor sound using traditional Locked Hands Voicings

Traditional Locked Hands Minor 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 Minor Voicings.

Open Podcast Packets
(detailed graphics of the jazz piano skill)

Lead Sheets
(beautifully notated music lead sheets)

Play Alongs
(ensemble assistance and practice tips)

Educational Support
Community Forum

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

Visit JazzPianoSkills for more educational resources that include a sequential curriculum with comprehensive Jazz Piano Courses, private and group online Jazz Piano Classes, a private jazz piano community hosting a variety of Jazz Piano Forums, an interactive Jazz Fake Book, plus unlimited professional educational jazz piano support.

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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



Dr. Bob Lawrence  0:33  
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 locked hands voicings. You're going to learn how to harmonize minor scales using traditional locked hand voicings, and you're going to play traditional locked hands for the minor sound from the root through the seven. So as I always like to say regardless where you are in your jazz journey, a beginner and intermediate player, an advanced player, or even if you consider yourself a seasoned and experienced professional, you will find this jazz piano skills podcast lesson exploring the traditional locked hands voicings to be very beneficial. If you are new to jazz piano skills if you are a new jazz piano skills podcast listener, I want to take a minute right now to personally invite you to become a jazz piano skills member. Visit jazz piano to learn more about the abundance of jazz educational resources and services and materials that are available for you to use. For example, as a jazz piano skills member, you have access to all of the educational podcast packets, the illustrations, the lead sheets, the play alongs that I develop and produce and make available for every podcast episode each and every week. You can access these podcast packets, download them and use them for studying and for practicing jazz piano. You also as a jazz panel skills member have access to the sequential jazz piano curriculum. This is a curriculum loaded with comprehensive courses using a self paced format, educational talks, interactive media, video demonstrations play alongs and more. Awesome. As a jazz panel skills member you have a reserved seat each and every week, and the online weekly masterclass that I host. These are in essence these math classes 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 panels skills community, which hosts a variety of engaging forums, podcast specific forums, core specific forums, and of course, General jazz piano forums as well. And last, but certainly certainly not least, as a jazz piano skills member. You have unlimited, private, personal and professional educational support whenever and as often as you need it. Again, just visit jazz piano To learn more about all the educational opportunities, and how to easily activate your membership. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. And let me know. I'm always happy to help and spend some time with you and help you in any way that I can. I also want to just take a second remind everyone to check out the jazz piano skills blog. And whether you are a jazz piano skills member or not, you can enjoy reading some additional insight regarding the jazz piano Skill of the Week. You'll find the blog link in the menu bar right across the top of the page at jazz piano skills Or you can just simply scroll to the bottom of that page and you'll see an entire blog section. I take some time at the end of each week to jot down some of my final thoughts about the jazz panel skill that we just explored during the week. And hopefully also 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. As always, I welcome your feedback. It's very much appreciated. Okay. Let's discover learn and play jazz piano let's discover learn and play traditional locked hands voicing

Dr. Bob Lawrence  4:58  
so what the heck Do I mean when I say locked hands voicings? What are they? Well, according to Wikipedia, and now I don't always go to Wikipedia. But in this case, there's a pretty good summary and outline of what locked hands are all about. According to Wikipedia lock hand style is a technique of chord voicing for the piano popularized by jazz pianist George sharing. It is a way to implement the block chord method of harmony on a keyboard instrument. Okay, well, so far so good. I agree. 100%. wikipedia goes on to say the lock hands technique requires the pianist to play the melody using both hands in unison. The right hand plays a four note chord inversion in which the melody note is the highest note in the voicing. Right It's on top. The other three notes of the chord are voiced as closely as possible. Below the melody note, which is the definition of a block chord. The left hand down doubles the melody note one octave lower. Again, absolutely. Spot on. I agree. 100%. wikipedia goes on to say to achieve this result, the pianist hands must be placed close together on the keyboard and both hands move simultaneously in the same direction. To the observer. The pianos hands appear to be locked together. Again, spot on. The technique Wikipedia goes on. The technique had been employed by numerous jazz pianists prior to sharing, such as Fillmore Duke Ellington, Count Basie and red garland sharing said he was first exposed to it through Milt Buckner, the pianos for Lionel Hampton, and the musician considered the originator of the technique. This harmonic technique was also used in the horn arrangements of Glenn Miller's Big Band, and is a staple of modern Big Band arranging. That is an excellent and succinct summary. I agree 100% with what we Wikipedia is laying out there. The bottom line is this blocked hands voicings technique is used by if not 100%, of all jazz pianist, it's safe to say at least 99% of all jazz pianos in the world. In other words, it's a standard tool in a jazz panels, jazz pianist toolbox, right? It's a standard tool. One could say with great confidence locked hands voicings are to a jazz pianist. What a hammer is to a carpenter. Needless to say anything this important we cannot ignore. We need to make a commitment to discover learn and play

Dr. Bob Lawrence  8:12  
locked hands voicings. So the agenda for today is as follows. Number one, I am going to present seven locked hands voicings, one for each note of the minor scale the minor sound. Number two, I am going to present 10 exercises that focus on compact scale and arpeggio motion to minimize linear movement. While we learn the shapes in number three, I'm going to present one exercise that spans the entire scale from the root to the seventh, and one exercise that plays the scale as an arpeggio spanning from the root to the 13th. All in all, I will be presenting the total of 12 exercises today. And number four, I will be constructing all of the voicings today with the traditional lock hands approach. And number five, I will be playing all demonstrations today all exercises using a temple of 120. And as always, I highly recommend when practicing any new jazz panel skill to use slower tempos 60 7080 right whenever you begin, begin slow. This jazz panel skill lesson covering traditional lock hands for the minor sound is a biggie it will forever change how you think about scales and arpeggios. It will forever change how you play scales and arpeggios and it will dramatically change your jazz piano sound. So if you Jazz panel skills member I want you to take a few minutes right now to download and print the illustrations and the lead sheets. Print your podcast packets right, you have access to all of the podcast packets and you should absolutely be using them when listening to this podcast presentation and of course, you should be using them when you are practicing. If you're listening to this podcast on any of the pod popular podcast directories such as Apple or Google, Amazon, Spotify, I Heart Radio Pandora on and on and on and on, then be sure to go to jazz piano skills to download the podcast packets, you will find the download links in the show notes. One final but extremely important note that I am including in every podcast episode from here on out. If you are thinking that the traditional locked hands, voicings that we are about to discover learn and play is in some ways or even if they are all the way over your head, then I would say to you Okay, so what big deal, continue to listen, continue to grow your jazz piano skills intellectually, by listening to this podcast episode. The fact is all skills, all jazz piano 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, we need to listen. All musical growth begins upstairs mentally, conceptually, before it can come out downstairs physically in your hands. So listen to this podcast. Listen now to discover and learn the traditional lock hands, the play will come in time, I guarantee it. Okay, so let's let's dig in. Now I'm going to be using the Dorian mode, the C minor Dorian mode today for all my demonstrations. So it's going to consist of the notes C, D, E flat, F, G, A, B flat. And what I want you to do is I want you to play that scale that mode with your little finger all the way up. So you can start on middle C with your finger, little finger and play the scale. Playing, I'm playing all seven notes with my little finger. The reason being is we're going to treat each note of the sound each note of the scale as the melody note and the rest of my fingers underneath my my little finger on my right hand are going to fill in the black courts, right gonna fill on the notes, additional notes of the sound. So for instance, underneath that, see, I want you to play an E flat with your thumb

Dr. Bob Lawrence  13:00  
and G and B flat. So in essence, we have a C minor seventh and first inversion. And then I want you to play your thumb of your left hand, I want you to play the note C doubling our top note with your left hand thumb. Okay, now when I play that all together right hand and left hand there it is. So locked hand voicing for C minor with C as My Melody. I'm only using my thumb and my left hand, no additional fingers at this time, only my phone. Now, if I'm going to place the melody note, I'm going to place the note D as My Melody all I'm going to do, I'm going to keep the inside of the voicing the same. I'm going to move my thumb and my left hand in my little finger in my right hand up to the note D beautiful the ninth right. So I get the root on the melody Nava knife in the melody one more time root, the knife or the second. Wow. Nice lush sound right. So what I want to do is bring the ensemble in. And I'm going to place these two shapes these two locked hand voicings into a musical context. And I'm just going to practice moving back and forth from my C to my D as My Melody note using my locked hands. Once I'm comfortable with both shapes, then I will experiment with some adding some rhythmic vocabulary to try to come up with some interesting melodic ideas. Little melodic motifs. Okay, so here we go. Let's bring the ensemble and let's check it out. Then we can talk about it. Here we go.

Dr. Bob Lawrence  16:00  
How cool is that? Right very George sharing Saudi. Wow, I just love I love that sound right. So the melody is doubled in octaves between my little finger in my right hand my thumb in my left hand I have the melody note is double, one octave apart, and the rest of my right hand fills in with various notes of the sound with in the octave. Right, what a great, lush sound. So now let's move on to the third. So the note E flat will be our melody. And then underneath that E flat with your thumb, I want you to play G, B flat, and C and then in your left hand, I want you to place your thumb on the note E flat. So we have C minor with a flat on the top C minor seven with the flat on the top, and then the E flat doubled an octave lower with our thumb and our left hand. And now we're going to move to the note f as our melody. So the thumb in my left hand goes to F, a little finger goes to F and in between those two notes that octave I'm going to place G and my thumb in my right hand, B flat, and D. So I'm going from my third is My Melody to my fourth, my third, my fourth. Now, you might want to just as a side note, on the third, instead of playing the route between the octave, you might want to put the ninth in between the octave so you would have in your left hand I mean in your right hand, G, B flat, D and E flat so you get the sound.

Dr. Bob Lawrence  18:01  
I like that a lot as well right? Or the route the route. You're one there's not a wrong choice here. Right? Both are excellent. So let's bring the ensemble in. Let's place these shapes these two shapes into musical context and see what we think. Here we go check it out.

Dr. Bob Lawrence  19:37  
Nice, very, very nice. And again, I hope you have your lead sheets in front of you and the illustrations in front of you to help help you as I walk you through these voicings as I walk you through the shapes, right, a picture's worth 1000 words so it helps having the podcast packets in front of you as we as we navigate through This lesson. So now we're going to move on to placing the fifth of the C minor sound, the note G as our melody, and our six the note a as our melody. So of course in our little finger, we're going to start with G. And in our phone, we're gonna have a G one octave lower. And in between those two octaves with our right hand, we're gonna have B flat on on the note, I mean, the thumb or thumb on the note B flat, then C, then E flat. So the locked hand voicing sounds like this. Beautiful. Now to go to our six, our note a as our melody, of course, our thumb, and our left hand moves up to a little finger moves up to a, so we get our octave, the right hand, I'm going to have thumb on B flat, my index finger on D, the ninth, and my middle finger on E flat, the third. Wow, it's kind of a stretch, but what a lovely sound right. So going back to our fifth to our six, our fifth or six. And again, when you play the fifth as the melody, you might want to substitute that route again with the ninth and you get this and now go to the sixth but no day. Right write just less moving parts when you do that. And a nice sound because you're substituting the root with the nine for the second. So let's bring our ensemble and let's drop these two locked hand shapes into a musical context with the note G and the note a serving as our melody notes. Once again, I'm going to play both shapes. Once I get comfortable with both shapes, I'm going to start adding some rhythmic variation to see what I can come up with melodically melodically. So let's check it out and see what we think. Here we go.

Dr. Bob Lawrence  23:18  
Great voicings right. Wow, now you can see why 99% if not 100% of all jazz pianist have these voicings in their toolbox. They are lush, and they are fantastic to use. So now we're going to finish up a sound, the minor sound, we're going to go back and forth from the six as our melody our note a up on top to our note B flat up on top the seventh. So we're gonna use the same voicing that we use for the six that we just get done using with our A B and doubled with our little finger in the right hand and our thumb in the left hand. And in between filled in with the notes B flat d E flat that our a as the melody. Now to go to B flat or thumb moves to B flat and our left hand or a little finger moves to B flat in our right hand. And in between we have a C minor triad C, E flat and G. So those two shapes those two voicings side by side. The sixth is the melody. Seventh isn't only 6/7. Wow, love it. So let's bring our ensemble back in. Let's drop both of these voicings into a musical context and see what we think. And once again, I'm going to just get comfortable at first with both shapes. Then add some rhythmic variation, some rhythmic vocabulary to come up with some nice melodic motifs. So here we go. Let's check it out.

Dr. Bob Lawrence  26:06  
How cool, right, we have now just played the entire C minor sound the entire C minor scale from the root to seventh using locked hand voicings. So if I put that all together as the scale, it will sound like this.

Dr. Bob Lawrence  26:32  
How awesome is that? Again, I'm going to demonstrate that a little later in the podcast the scale motion, but I just wanted you to hear that. So nice. So now what we're gonna do is we're gonna start the process over again. But instead of just using two shapes the route and and like for instance, the route in the second, we're now going to add the third in there, right, so we have the route the second and third. And in doing so, we now have the ability, I have arpeggio motion at my fingertips. Alright, so now I can create melodic ideas use rhythmic vocabulary to create melodic ideas moving from the root to the second to the third. And I can move from the root up to the third using arpeggio motion or third back down to the root for arpeggio motion, or scale motion between the root and the second, or between the second the third. So why is this important because there are only two types of melodic motion in music, scale, motion and arpeggio motion. And now in this little capsule, this little tiny nugget, we have both types of motion. from the root to the second to the third, we have scale motion, and we also have arpeggio motion. So now I want to use our same voicings that I just went through that we used when we were just moving from head pairs to note groupings, to now three note groupings. So let's bring the ensemble in. And I'm going to move from my route to my second to my third. And I'm going to mix it up, I'm going to get used to moving those three shapes around and use some rhythmic vocabulary to create some melodic motifs. So here we go. Let's check it out and see what we think.

Dr. Bob Lawrence  29:30  
It always amazes me the opportunities the potential that you have, when using just three notes, the root, the second and the third, to create melodic ideas. There's so much fertile ground right there, right we always think that we need a lot of notes not true. In fact, I think the fewer notes that we have, the sharper our create creative skills become So in addition to learning these lock hands, you're actually working on developing your creativity as well. Wow, you can't beat it that's effective and efficient practicing. So now we're going to group together the third, the fourth and the fifth, right. So we have these three sounds. Third on the on top as the Melly, my fourth, and not my fifth. So I'm going to take those three lock hands voicings, and I'm going to use scale motion, arpeggio motion, mix it up a little bit, apply some rhythmic vocabulary to create some melodic motifs, and see what I come up with as I sharpen my creative skills, right. So here we go. Let's bring the ensemble back in. And let's listen to the third, fourth and fifth of the C minor sound being played using lot hands, voicings, here we go.

Dr. Bob Lawrence  32:14  
Too much fun. You know, I used to have a teacher he used to use the sitting practice, he used to demonstrate this stuff for me in lessons. And he would play these voicings and move them around, like what I'm demonstrating today. And he used to look at me and say, I could do this all day, I could do this all day. And I used to think I was just, you know, a young kid at the time, I used to think really. And now that I'm not a kid anymore, I go Yeah, I could do it all day, too. This is This is fun. So now we are moving on to the fifth, sixth, and the seventh of the minor sound. So our fifth with our G voiced as the melody. Then our six and then are seven. All three using lock hands, voicings, some fifth, six, and seven. Beautiful. So let's bring the ensemble back in. Let me move those three shapes around using scale and arpeggio motion, applying some rhythmic vocabulary to come up with some nice melodic motifs and to sharpen my creative skills as well. So here we go. Let's check it out and see what we think.

Dr. Bob Lawrence  34:43  
Not too shabby. I love it. Absolutely love it. So now we've explored three note groupings from the root to the seventh. So now it's time to kind of include our upper extensions here right start to get our nines or 11. 13th into the equation. So now we're going to move these three shapes around the seventh voiced as our melody. Moving through our route up to our nine. Beautiful, again, so I have my B flat is my melody and my route the my knife, my sounds, so we're gonna bring the ensemble back in and repeat the same process again, the practice process, notice how we continue to employ apply the same routine, the same process, regardless of the groupings, to note groupings, three note groupings, right? are practicing, we have to be able to replicate our practicing not only within the sound, but we have to be able to replicate our practicing from sound to sound. so important. If you do not have the ability to replicate your practicing, you're practicing method is flawed, it must be able to be replicated. So we're using the same approach, regardless of what notes we are placing in the melody. So we're gonna bring ensemble back in place these three shapes into a musical context, our seventh, our route and our ninth move using scale motion, arpeggio motion applying some rhythmic vocabulary to create melodic motifs, and sharpen our creative skills, or creativity. So here we go. Let's check it out. Let's see what we think.

Dr. Bob Lawrence  37:49  
I absolutely love it. Wow, love getting up into the nights and the 11th. The 13th. Wonderful. So we're gonna do that we're gonna continue marching upward. Right, so now the three shapes, we're going to have our ninth in the melody or D. Moving to our third, moving to our fourth, our, or our 11th. So those three shapes sound like this again. Wow. So what are we going to do, we're going to repeat this same process, we're going to bring the ensemble back and we're going to drop these three shapes into a musical context. I'm going to utilize scale and arpeggio motion to move through each of these shapes, and do so in apply some rhythmic vocabulary and doing so. So I can create some melodic motifs. And that whole process will sharpen my creative skills, right? I used to have a teacher that said you if you want to be creative practice creativity. So true. And we've incorporated that into this practice approach. No doubt about it. So let's bring the ensemble in. And let's check it out and see what we think. Here we go.

Dr. Bob Lawrence  40:18  
Okay, we only have one, three note grouping left to explore. And that is moving from our 11th. Our fourth our is our 11th as our melody to our fifth to our 13th, our six. So r, f, r, g, and R. Right? You know, we have a window cleaner here at the Dallas school music. It's a Russian Gentlemen, I love talking to him. He always calls me Tchaikovsky. He thinks it's funny, I actually think it's funny too. But anyway, we talk. And he was telling me the other day that creativity is born out of necessity. And necessity is usually born out of limitation. So what you're doing here, when you limit the number of notes that you can utilize to create melodic ideas, to notes, or three notes, right, you're limited your options. Right. So with those limited options, it's necessary to be creative. And that's how you actually enhance or build or develop your creative ideas is not from having multiple notes to play or unlimited notes the play, but it's limiting your options from which creativity is born. So just keep that in mind. I think it's a great lesson from john, our window cleaner here at the Dallas school music, who I absolutely enjoy spending time with each and every time he's here at the school. So here we go. Let's bring the ensemble back. And let's check it out. And see what we think of these locked hands moving from the from the fourth to the fifth, or I should say the 11th to the fifth to the 13th Here we go. Let's check it out.

Dr. Bob Lawrence  43:29  
Wow. So let me just recap here. Before we continue, we have explored the entire C minor sound using locked hands, voicings locked hands. And we've done so by using two note groupings and three note groupings through the entire sound right to note groupings from the root up to the seventh, three note groupings moving from the root all the way through the 13th the sound. So now once I have a handle on the shapes of the minor sound using locked hands, now it's time for me to test my skills and play the entire scale and the entire arpeggio at one at one time and one setting. So we'll start with the scale. So you're going to hear me play the C minor scale using lock hands

Dr. Bob Lawrence  44:30  
in a musical context, right like an exercise. So I'm going to bring the ensemble and and I'm going to start off by playing each shape, kind of like a whole notes for each shape and then reduce it down to quarter notes. All right in time with a great feel great articulation, moving ascending and descending through the minor sound using scale motion and locked hands voicings. So here we go. Let's check it out. And see See what we think?

Dr. Bob Lawrence  46:14  
Well, here's what i think i think that's really cool. That is a great sound. It's a very lush, very big sound, right very different than what we did a month ago or a month and a half two months ago when we looked at harmonizing sounds using quarter voicings much more spread out much more transparent. These lock hand sounds these locked hand voicings much more dense, lush, right, you want to have both in your arsenal when playing jazz piano. So now we want to do the C minor sound from the root to the 13th. The same using my locked hand voicings, my same lock hand voicings, but I want to move in arpeggio motion, so it's gonna sound like this.

Dr. Bob Lawrence  47:05  
From the root all the way up to the 13th in My Melody. So I'm going to bring the ensemble in, I'm going to drop the shapes into musical context using Arma. Use it using arpeggio motion, moving through the entire C minor sound from the root to the 13th. Using locked hand voicings. Again, I want to play with a nice articulation a nice feel. And we'll start off playing each shape as whole notes, and then move them to quarter notes. Alright, so I'm testing my ability to move through the entire sound from shape to shape to shape to shape, see how easily I can do that and how accurately I can do that. So let's bring out Sam Berlin. Let's check it out. See what we think. Here we go.

Dr. Bob Lawrence  49:03  
It never, ever, ever fails. We'll always unpack a ton of information in each and every jazz panel skills podcast episode and today was certainly no exception. Traditional locked hands voicings without a doubt, an essential jazz piano skill that will require much thought, intense study and of course, relentless practice. I want to encourage you to take the time to map out these voicings on paper use the podcast packets, the illustrations, there are a lot of worksheets in there for you to use. Use those illustrations use the podcast packet lead sheets to guide you. The illustrations like I said include a paper practice template that you can use for mapping out the harmonization of all all of the minor lot here. Hand voicings, as you have heard me say over and over and over and over and over again. conceptual understanding determines your physical development. So the time you invest in studying and mapping out the traditional locked hands voicings is time very well spent, the return on your investment cannot be adequately expressed I promise you most of all, be patient. This is a big time jazz piano skill that will require time to digest both mentally and physically. structure your physical practice after the plane demonstrations that I just 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 well I hope you have found this jazz panel skills podcast lesson exploring the traditional locked hands voicings to be insightful and of course to be very beneficial don't forget if you're a jazz piano skills member I will see you online Thursday evening at the jazz piano skills masterclass. 8pm Central time to discuss this podcast episode lesson exploring the traditional locked hands voicings in greater detail and to answer any questions that you may have about the study of jazz in general. Again, as a jazz panel skills member, be sure to use the educational podcast packets, the illustrations lead sheets to play alongs for this podcast lesson for all of the podcast lessons. Also be sure to use the jazz panel skills courses to maximize your musical growth. And likewise, make sure you are an active participant in the jazz piano skills community get involved, contribute to the various forums and of course, make some new jazz piano friends. Always a fantastic thing to do. As always, 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. While there is my cue, that's it for now. Until next week, enjoy the traditional locked hands. Enjoy the journey. And most of all, have fun as you discover, learn and play jazz piano