What is the best way to start learning open voicing (spread voicing) " Learning all nine chord types with all 4 formulas in 12 keys " is not for me ,as being of a senior age, I don't have the inclination to spend so much time learning such a large amount of chords

  • Please say more about why you're not able to learn the various chords is all keys.
    – Aaron
    Commented May 9, 2022 at 13:27
  • It would be helpful also to know what you've learned up to this point. For example, can you play all of the various chord types in close position in all keys?
    – Aaron
    Commented May 9, 2022 at 13:29
  • What have you learned so far? Are you starting from zero, or do you have some knowledge of chords already?
    – Aaron
    Commented May 9, 2022 at 17:00

2 Answers 2


A left-field answer from possibly the worst keyboard player on this stack…

After a while you kind of 'forget' what each note is & what job it's doing, you just no longer need to keep all this information consciously in your head, like you're spinning dinner plates on sticks at a carnival. It's a bit like driving - if you had to concentrate all the time about what gear you're in, what direction the steering is pointing, how hard & at exactly what moment you have to press the brake and clutch… you'd have a nervous breakdown & just stop in the middle of the road, shaking.

Until it all falls into place sub-consciously, you could start by using root & 5th in the left, make up the missing 'flavour' notes in the right; eventually progressing to root & any 7th you need, letting you start to squeeze the 5th & any flavour close together, or even at opposite ends of your span; reach out for that 5th to 6th at an octave…
The world is the mollusc of your choice after that.

  • 1
    In addition to fifths, which fit the hand well, I like roots and 7ths in the left hand, because the 7ths are easy to find, being one half or whole step below the octave.
    – Aaron
    Commented May 9, 2022 at 18:37

Learn all the chords in close position first. Start with the triads - major and minor. Then move on to the 7ths - m7, ▵7, M7, m7♭5, diminished.

Learn them by note names, or if that's impossible, by where the notes are on the keyboard (as in E♭▵ has the black keys to the right of each set of 2 and 3, and the white keys between the 2 blacks and 1st between the 3 blacks). Note names are more useful, as there are so many different combinations of open voicings, I can't think of a better way.

After the 7ths, 9ths are simply one additional note, a 2nd above that 7th (basically).

Learn the note constitution for the more commonly used keys - C, G, F, B♭, E&flat. Work out your own order, from keys you play in most.

  • I know most chords maj.min. 7ths dim ,etc and a lot of inversions. Basically I can play most popular music but only single melody right hand. Instead of spending time learning more left hand chords and inversions, it seems more useful to play spread voicing for better sound
    – user33981
    Commented May 9, 2022 at 16:35

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