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View Full Version : Soul Keyboard Voicings



outstretchedarm
02-21-2009, 05:38 PM
grrr. I've been researching this for years, and still cant get that warm soulful sound I am after.

Here are some examples by way of links:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GLNWjWmT8UQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVIGhc7dKr4&feature=related (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GLNWjWmT8UQ)

i view/read the tutorials, but I'd love for someone to explain some of the underlying principles to this style. How are voicing formed? what are some keys to building those jazzy transitions?

help!

ClashlandHands
02-21-2009, 09:08 PM
What I hear in this example is a lot of major 9th and minor 9th chords. More important than the actual voicings, or at least as important as the voicings are where you're going to and where you're coming from. A lot of why a voicing sounds the way it does has to do with how you set it up. In this style of music, a lot of the setup is designed to make the target voicing sound even brighter than it normally would if it stood alone.
For example, choose an Fm11 voicing, say and move the same voicing around the keyboard totally randomly maintaining a fairly narrow range of say an octave or two. Certain movement, for instance movement from a Cm11 up to an Em11 will sound different because of the common tones or lack thereof in the 2 voicings. Em7 being the top half of a Cma9 will sound undoubtedly brighter after Cm11. This random root movement might be a door for you. To smooth it out more after you have a bunch of random root movement, you might use inversions or poly-chords.
With the construction of the voicings themselves, I hear a lot of clusters, usually at the top of the voicing which inevitably means some tones might end up getting doubled. Doubling weakens the chord harmonically (How special would a 9th feel if there was another one out there just like him?), but it also thickens the voicing. Most of these ones he's playing are 5, 6, 7 & 8 note voicings I think.

As far as constructing new voicings, it's easiest to start with what you know and build it out from there. If you know a bunch of left-hand stock voicings, it doesn't take much to build a 4 note LH voicing out to a 7 note voicing.

Triad over Triad. Triad over 4ths. 4ths over Triad. Stacked 4ths, 5ths. Cluster over 4ths. 5ths over 6ths. Skys the limit, but keeping in mind that you will have to voicelead it, so if it's hard to keep track of 7 tones and voicelead some of them smoothly, maybe better to practice 4 note voicings until you can voicelead those.

grrr. I've been researching this for years, and still cant get that warm soulful sound I am after.

Here are some examples by way of links:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GLNWjWmT8UQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVIGhc7dKr4&feature=related (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GLNWjWmT8UQ)

i view/read the tutorials, but I'd love for someone to explain some of the underlying principles to this style. How are voicing formed? what are some keys to building those jazzy transitions?

help!

outstretchedarm
02-22-2009, 12:16 AM
I was beginning to follow till you got here:


Triad over Triad. Triad over 4ths. 4ths over Triad. Stacked 4ths, 5ths. Cluster over 4ths. 5ths over 6ths. Skys the limit

also, what did you mean by this:


Em7 being the top half of a Cma9 will sound undoubtedly brighter after Cm11. This random root movement might be a door for you. To smooth it out more after you have a bunch of random root movement, you might use inversions or poly-chords.

thanks for your post

ClashlandHands
02-25-2009, 01:35 AM
Well, there being two hands, an easy way to make larger thicker, more soulful voicings would be to combine smaller ones. So, if you grab a fistful of fourths in the left hand, you could stack a triad on it in the right hand or vice versa. For example, you could voice Dm11 with a Cmajor triad in first inversion over a Dm triad in first inversion. Or try it in 2nd inversion. Mix it up. I'm not saying you should voice it this way, but you could.
There are some other things going on there, so maybe look at his voicings and transcribe them and see where stuff moves between chords. Where there is parallel motion, contrary motion, oblique motion or where a particular voice is static. Some of the crunchiness might come from the movement that is unexpected or less smooth. Also texturally, where does it thin out and are there some voicings that are more important than others?
Regarding an Em9 after a Cm9, the sound I think you're looking for comes from weaving in and out of the key. The tune is in a key, but it's the chords that take you out of that tonality add the surprise and freshness. Cm9 belongs to a key signature with at least 2 flats. (Could be ii of Bb or vi of Eb among other things) Em9 if it's a ii chord, you're in 2 sharps. That kind of movement from two flats to two sharps only makes logical sense in terms of common tones and voice leading. G and D being the common denominators in these two chords. There's no resolution, just tension new tension.
Now if you keep setting up new tension after new tension... there's no tension, so the resolution is necessary grounding point to give the tensions their tension. Speaking purely harmonically. There might be other tension going on melodically or rhythmically.
Do you play gospel? This might be a good starting point. With simple triadic harmony, maybe you could keep the Gospel in your left hand and put the Soul in your right hand when you construct your voicings. I'm not totally well versed in this style, but I sortof feel like the more I understood Gospel, the more I'd get soul.