Suspended and Spread Voicings

Hey Jazz Guy,

I’m tired of the same old 7th chord voicings, can you show me something different and new? –Tired in Toronto

Dear Tired,

One of the best signs you are improving is when you become frustrated with what you know and start looking for something else. Two voicing concepts that have a modern edge and can send you exploring are spread voicings and triad suspensions. Spread voicingsare any chord where the notes are separated by more than one octave. In the first example [Ex 1], we take C and Dmin and transform them into spread voicings. Next we do the same thing with CMaj7 and Dmin7 [Ex 2]. The fingering gets dodgy here, so we’ll eliminate the root note to get a more modern sound and avoid any stretching issues. Now the fun part of this [Ex 3] is substituting tensions, replacing the 3rd with the 9th, the 5th with the 13th, giving a new take on a CMaj7 chord. A little turnaround progression [Ex 4] can showcase the full effect of these chords. Triad Suspensions simply use an old trick in a new way. Recall from “Free Fallin’” the classic DSus4 and Sus4 type chords [Ex 5]. We will jazz translate these into three suspension types: 2-3, 9-1, and 4-3 [Ex 6].

Upper structure for a CMaj7 (C E G B D etc.) shows what triads are inherent. A GMaj triad appears in the CMaj7 upper structure so a suspension of GMaj will work. The same concept [Ex 7] applies to the other 7th chord types. To help see the whole picture, chord symbols reflect the total sonority after the suspension.

Finally, our turnaround is played with the triad suspensions [Ex 8]. Play this with a bass player for the full effect. These techniques take some time to master so dig in and jazz hard, it will be worth staying awake.

Download Sheet music and TAB Hey Jazz Guy PDF of This Lesson

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Categories: Chords, Harmony

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