A standard way to get a jazzier sound is to add “color tones” to the basic seventh chord. A commonly-used color tone is the “9” (or “2” if you like)…
In service to physical ease and musicality, it is customary to drop the most expendable note “1” from the right hand and replace it with the 9 as follows…
A logical and musical next step is to invert the right hand, an important skill that serves at least two purposes:
- In order to place the notes in a pleasing register (not too low where it can sound muddy and not too high where it can sound thin).
- In order to smoothly connect with neighboring chords by voice-leading (lots more on this in subsequent lessons on jazz chord progressions).
Use your ears and knowledge of scales and chord structure to “transpose” this voicing to all spellings in three musically-useful patterns:
- Chromatically Ascending: C > Db > D > Eb > E > F > Gb > G > Ab > A > Bb > B > C.
- Chromatically Descending: C > B > Bb > A > Ab > G > Gb > F > E > Eb > D > Db > C.
- Cycle of Dominants: C > F > Bb > Eb > Ab > Db > Gb > B > E > A > D > G > C.
Doing so helps to develop an enormous chord vocabulary, one that you will know intimately in many ways: by brain, by eye, by ear, by finger, by body, and by heart… and builds a solid foundation for fluent improvisation.