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Phat Chord Voicings Piano Lesson series
Chapter 1

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Piano lessons Video Overview - "Phat Chord Voicings, Ch. 1"

This video is a quick overview of the highlights from the online piano lessons course titled "Phat Chord Voicings", chapter 1.

In this chapter, I want to show you how to replace simple minor chords with delicious two-handed minor 9th open voiced chords. This very simple technique is a quick way to add fresh new sounds to your piano playing!

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Partial transcript from this piano lesson below:

[ piano intro playing ]

In this edition of Phat chord voicings, I'm going to show you how to take a simple minor chord and really make it rich like this...[ transcript note: in the lesson video, keyboard plays here ]

Do you hear how rich and mysterious those chord voicings are? Let's take a look at how that's done. Now one of the great things about the piano chord voicing that I'm going to show you in this piano lesson is that you can use it almost anytime you see a simple minor chord on a lead sheet. In addition, you can use this chord voicing when you are writing music on the piano and would like to include a minor chord. Throw this voicing in instead and instantly you've got a lot of richness! Let's take a look at how this chord voicing is built.

scoll up to watch video lessonWatch the Video Version of this piano lesson (top of this page)

The piano chord voicing we're looking at is this... [ transcript note: in the video, piano is playing here ] Nice and open, it's an open piano chord voicing because the notes are spread out and it's based on an E minor triad. We studied how to put together these triads in the beginning of "Pattern Piano and Keyboard", the original piano lessons course. If you haven't had the chance to go through that course yet, make sure you take time to go through it.

[ transcript note: in the video, piano is playing here ] So here's E Minor. Now in "Pattern Piano and Keyboard" the original course, we studied where the 7th comes from right? So this chord voicing that I'm showing you includes... [ transcript note: in the video, piano is playing here ] What is that note? 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9, right? So we've got E minor triad, 7 and 9, now we're going to take those same notes and spread them out into a nice phat piano chord voicing. Isn't that fantastic?! Those are the same exact notes but spread out. Let me show you how to do this.

To dig into the original piano lessons course, go to There, you'll find a wealth of online piano and keyboard lessons including the original course. In addition, you'll find lot's of style development lessons that are designed to follow up after you've gone through the original course and you've learned to play piano and keyboard by ear. Let's go back to the lesson.

This is what separates folks who begin to play the piano and say, "Yeah I play chord piano..." (and they just bang out the chords) from those people that really create fantastic music. It actually isn't that huge of a musical concept. Once you understand how to voice chords, your musical vocabulary becomes so much richer. From there you begin to play rhythmic patterns - that's what we're covering in our original piano course.

[ see video for accompaniment ]

Now before we go on I want to show you graphically what it means to take a closed voicing piano chord like the E minor 9 (like I just showed you) and open it up into a chord "voicing".

On the screen you can see exactly what I played a minute ago. This is the standard, closed position, non-voiced E Minor 9 chord. From bottom to top, let's take a look at the notes. From the bottom you've got an E which is the root, right? (Or the bottom of the chord) Then you've got the third which is G natural. Then you have the 5th which is B. Then you have the dominant 7th which is D. And above that you have the F which is the 9th.

Are you getting this? I hope you're getting this. If you haven't, you need to go through the original course. One you understand music then you can be really creative. That's my #1 thesis.

That's the #1 way that 99% of the world's keyboard players play an E minor 9 voicing... but not you! We're going to spread this thing out and give it some new life with the "phat chord voicing".

Take a look at the screen again - it's exactly the same notes. You've still got an E - G - B - D and F#. They're just in different places on the piano keyboard. Notice they are spread out. That's why the sound is so open. That's why this works so well when you have another instrument or a voice singing or playing the melody without getting clustered.

So I've got the left hand playing the root way down on the bottom - it's an E. It's also playing the 5th which is a B. The right hand is playing the denim colored notes (it's kind of the cool man) it's playing the 3rd of the chord right? (G natural) It's playing the dominant 7th which is a D and it's playing an F# up on top. That's what it means to take a closed position chord and open it up into a phat piano chord voicing. In fact, that's the exact voicing that we're studying in this piano lesson.

Let's take a look at it one last time; here it is in closed position. Then we're going to open it up into a nice phat chord voicing, and we'll roll it. You can roll it like a guitar. Up and down the keyboard. It's kind of a nice guitar technique.

This is just the first 6 minutes of phat chord voicings Chapter 1. I hope that you've enjoyed it so far!

[ transcript note: in the video above, piano plays in this section ]


  1. Luci Daniels McFadden - September 7, 2013

    This is really helpful to me thanks a million.
    I'm a beginner and also learning to read music also.

    • David Sprunger - September 8, 2013

      Hello Luci - I'm so glad to hear that. Although our lessons focus on learning to play by ear (instead of traditional methods of reading music) I always encourage my students to learn every aspect of music. I'm convinced that every skill you learn makes you a better musician - learning to read, play by ear, ear training, theory, etc.

  2. lenora - October 5, 2013

    I like your technique. you make it look so easy, I play little but its hard to concentrate on one hand without letting the other one know what i am doing. and I'm always stuck with c major, but my choir don't always sing in c major. Help me out

    • David Sprunger - October 6, 2013

      Lenora - I love playing piano for choirs. It always strikes me as funny that choir folks seem like such normal people when you see them in performance, but in reality they are some of the craziest people around! Ha. Love it.

      In regards to your question - keep digging into all the lessons from the Complete Bundle. I make a point in the intermediate lessons to move out of the key of C. It's tempting to practice in keys that you are familiar with, but like you said, the real world of music moves through all the keys.

      Also, getting your right and left hands to be independant of each other is one of the biggest challenges for a keyboard player. Check out this lesson - it deals specifically with hand and finger independence.

      Best wishes! David Sprunger

  3. alpspitz1Dave Lockwood - November 16, 2013

    I like to play cocktail style music on piano and synth.,its great for ear training stuff!

    • David Sprunger - April 13, 2014

      Hi Dave - We're all out on our patio on a beautiful Southern Oregon spring evening - would love to hear you playing cocktail piano while we're watching the sun go down! :)

  4. Terry - January 4, 2014

    The sounds of your Phat cords are very good and professional sounding. Nice program. Regards, Terry.

  5. Nilson - January 20, 2014

    David, I bought your Complete Bundle and every second we waited to get to Brazil worth it! Your lessons are simply fantastic and was a great instrument of God to bless my life and my ministry! Just wanted to get my thanks! This lesson was particularly one of my favorites! Big hug my brother! And when you can come to Brazil!

    • David Sprunger - April 13, 2014

      Nilson - I am CONTINUALLY blown away by the number of students we have in Brazil. Maybe you're right... I need to come visit.

  6. martyn lewis - April 13, 2014

    I just stumbled on your video and my head is spinning and I'm simply blown away by your playing. I have always wanted to play piano and now that I have retired have the time to try to learn. If I could ever learn to play even 1/10th as well as what I saw and heard you do I will be ecstatic. I always thought I would need a teacher for one on one lessons. However your course has me very excited and a little afraid as well. You are quite simply amazing David.

    • David Sprunger - April 13, 2014

      Martyn - you're very kind. I do love to play! Sounds like you have got the piano bug pretty bad too :) I'm glad you're digging in. Please let me know how it goes as you dig in.

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