Rootless 3-Note Major ii-V7-I Piano Voicings

So, you’ve practiced the 2-note ii-V7-I voicings for so long that you can play them in your sleep, and you’re wondering what’s next.  Although the 2-note voicings do sound great in some contexts (it’s a nice sparse voicing to use behind a bass solo, or just to play on all fours a-la Freddie Green, to give two examples), they are a little vanilla.  You can add the smallest amount of spice by adding another note – either the 6th if the voicing is built off the 7th (stacked 7th, 3rd, 6th, ascending) or adding the 9th if the voicing is build off the third (built 3rd, 7th, 9th).

Just like with the 2-note voicings, even though they’re rootless, I have added the root in the bass clef so you can practice hearing the corresponding bass notes.  And just like with the 2-note voicings, you’ll want to practice them in your left hand as well as your right so you have them at your disposal to cover any number of musical situations.  I’ve added two documents – they each contain the same voicings but they progress differently.  The first document (immediately below) has major ii-V7-I voicings that descend by a major 2nd and the second document has voicings that progress through the circle of fifths.  You can practice these voicings in endless other combinations – progressing by major thirds (a-la Giant Steps), by minor thirds (a-la Central Park West) or just picking key centers at random to test your knowledge.  Happy practicing!


    1. I was being lazy when I wrote the chord symbols – the voicings work over a generic ii-V-I progression, so I notated them all that way. It would probably be more accurate to label each progression according to the voicings used – the minor chord voicing sometimes uses a ninth, and the dominant voicing uses a 13th or 9th, and the major voicing uses either a 9th or 13th. So, more accurate chord symbols would be:
      Bmin9 – E13 – AMaj9
      Emin7 – A9 – Dmaj6
      something like that.

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