Shearing Style Bock Chords for the Right Hand

Whether or not the current melody note is a chord tone is largely irrelevant when deciding which notes to include inside the RH octave.

In general, one or two notes inside the pinky and thumb octave spread is enough to state the current chord quality.

So which notes to put in?

If you want a relatively vanilla sound, choose notes from the lower end of the chord (root, third, fifth, 7th).

If you want a "crunchier" more "modern" sound, include  some of the upper extensions (9th, 11th. 13th).

If you are including two notes inside your octave, there is no reason why one of them can't be a lower structure tone and the other an upper structure tone.

If a chord contains a "characteristic" chord tone (ie. b5, #9, etc) it's often a good idea to throw that in (especially if it's not being covered by the LH).

Also it's extremely cool to have one of those interior tones be a common tone in the next chord, ex:

C9      -> F13    -> Bb7  
D  (9)  -> D (13)
Bb (b7) -> A (3)  -> Bb (R)
G  (5)
E  (3)  -> F (R)  -> F (5)
D  (9)  -> D (13) -> D (3)

The choice of interior notes is also very often a function of ergonomics, ie. which chord tones fall most easily under the fingers.

This requires a bit of trial and error initially, and is tough to execute in an improvisation. Although a treatment of the head with a pre-arranged block chord melody line is an interesting way to go every once in a while.

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copyright 2006 Jeff Brent

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