I've began studying jazz and I came across to something called "voicings","drop 2 voicings", etc. To me, voicings seem like chord inversions but from what I've found online it seems to be something more to them. Are they just shapes to play chords easier? How can I learn more?

1 Answer 1

  • Voicings are about spacing of the notes of a chord into different octaves and sometimes doubling some of them.
  • Inversions are about what is the lowest note.

This example on Wikipedia has several different voicings for a C major chord. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voicing_%28music%29#Vertical_placement

If instead of C, say, E was the lowest note, then it would be the first inversion of C major. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inversion_(music)#Inverted_chords

Voicings are used to get slightly different sounds and colors. An open voicing has a more open, wide and clear sound, and usually you don't want voices too close to each other in low octaves, because of the muddy sound. Sometimes you might actually want a muddy sound. But sometimes you play a different voicing just to make a chord easier to play on the guitar, when a different voicing has an easier fingering. You might also use different voicings to get the melody note as the highest voice.

Inversions are used for their slightly different harmonic functions. For example, in the chord progression C/G - G7 - C, the chord C/G gives a strong hint that a dominant G7 is going to come soon. With C/G you feel like almost being at G7 already, just expecting the inevitable dominant to happen. But if you play it as C - G7 - C, there's no such hint, unless one comes from the rhythmic structure, say, being near the end of an 8-bar passage.

As far as I can see, the musical genre such as jazz doesn’t affect the meaning of the words in any way. Maybe in jazz, some effects are used more often.

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