Hello, my friends! Thanks for joining us today for another article! We hope today’s article is beneficial for you as you further dive into your knowledge as a musician. We have an interesting, and specific, topic for you today so let’s jump right in!
As the title suggests, we’re going to be talking about the Am chord and what we can accomplish with it. Even though we will be specifically talking about the Am chord, we can transfer much of this lesson to other minor chords.
Voicings are a very important part of chords and their ability to translate correctly. I’m sure as you’ve played music, especially when you were just starting out, the quality and intrigue of your chords were either too basic or too muddy. In this article we’re going to address a really useful piece of advice.
A trick to successful chords isn’t the notes themselves
but the distance between them.
To start out we’re going to lay out some pretty basic ground work for the chords we’re going to be working with today.
As mentioned above, we’re going to be focusing on the Am chord even though the intervals of these voicings can be applied to any chord in any key. The two main chords we’re going to voice today are the Am9 and the Am11 chords. Here are the full chord descriptions.
- Full chord | A – C – E – G – B
- Full chord | A – C – E – G – B – D
Now, you could, of course, voice these chords in any way you choose. Chord voicings can be subjective to whomever may be playing them. We have a few voicings that we really like and want to share them with you. First, we’re going to start out with a dense voicing of the Am11 chord.
- Left hand | A – C – D – E
- Right hand | G – B – D
This dense version of this chord feels rich and warm. The literal closeness of the intervals keeps chord integrity, but it also brings the ear closer. Cluster chords are a personal preference of mine because I like feeling the weight of the chord. Cluster chords tend to carry more tonal weight than their extended counter-parts.
The next chord we’re going to voice is the Am9 chord.
- Left hand | A – E – G
- Right hand | B – C – G
This chord is a more extended version of the regular Am9 chord. It’s not a full stretch of the hand but adds space for the listener. Even though I will always tend to lean more towards a cluster chord, I understand the need for a more extended chord.
It almost gives the ear room to breathe. My love of cluster chords can definitely hinder how my music translates to a listener. Using more extended chords throughout your progression can help the tones breathe instead of everything running together with a constant sound of cluster chords.
The final chord we will be highlighting is another version of the Am11 chord.
- Left hand | A – E – B
- Right hand | C – G – D
Now, this chord is definitely more of a stretch, especially when compared to the chords we highlighted above. It is important to have a variety of chords in your arsenal, but the chords will only go so far if the voicings are basic.
INTERVAL WALK THROUGH
Now, we have been talking solely within the chord tones of the Am9 and Am11 chords. However, all of the voicing used with these chords can be translated into different keys.
If you’re like me, having a handy chart you can reference is gold. I’m going to provide the exact intervals for the chord voicings used above so you can reference the chart no matter the root of the minor chord you are building.
DISCLAIMER : These intervals work strictly for minor chords.
- Dense m11 chord
- Left hand | Root – min3 – maj2 – maj2
- Right hand | 7 of the chord – maj3 – min3
- Semi-extended m9 chord
- Left hand | Root – 5th – min3
- Right hand | 9 of the chord – min2 – 5th
- Extended m11 chord
- Left hand | Root – 5th – 5th
- Right hand | 3 of the chord – 5th – 5th
I hope this chart is useful for you. You could venture and make the chord major, if you feel like doing the brain work. We wanted to provide chords that help translate minor chords in a way that is pleasing to the ear and also interesting to play.
Working with any type of minor chord can prove to be daunting with jazz type chords. You want to work with the chord structure enough to convey the emotion of the chord but not distract the listener with a jumble of tones. We hope that today’s article was beneficial for you! How do you go about voicing minor jazz chords? What’s your method? We’d love to hear from you!
Feel free to contact me with any ideas, techniques, or general comments!