Occasionally, 'Drop x' is used to clarify chord voicing. I guess it's a more focussed way of explaining how notes of a chord are voiced. Certainly more specific than 'inversions', which only specify what the lowest note is.

What is the ruling behind 'drop x', how important is it in our playing, and where did it come from originally?

1 Answer 1


Start from an assumption that the 'normal' construction of a chord is to have all the notes as close as possible - basically a 'pile of 3rds'. Take the second-highest note, drop it an octave. That's Drop 2 voicing. Third-highest - well, you get the idea!

Drop 2 fits the layout of a guitar rather well. Here's a nice discussion of it in guitar-specific terms: https://www.guitarlessonworld.com/lessons/drop-2-chords/

On keyboard, or when arranging for other instruments - e.g. a 5-piece sax section - open voicings are very common.

  • 1
    Any ideas who started it?
    – Tim
    Sep 11, 2021 at 16:19
  • Isn't it more "when did music get dumbed down to 'chord sequences' and an assumption that anything other than a close-position voicing was unusual"? Sep 12, 2021 at 10:46
  • Not sure (at all) that 'chord sequences' are 'dumbing down', and never really considered close-voicing was any more un/usual than open. I just play what I think will sound best in each circumstance, but with 'drop x', that's being stipulated.
    – Tim
    Sep 12, 2021 at 11:10
  • @LaurencePayne Music being simplified to favour close-position voicings and then getting named as such is one way to look at it. An alternative hypothesis is that theorists named the close position voicings because the open ones happen to be harder to taxonomize, and then music followed suit. Not sure if it is known which angle is true though.
    – user45266
    Sep 13, 2021 at 6:28

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