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#2126066 - 07/31/13 07:17 PM Chord without the root note?
PsychoMantis Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/29/13
Posts: 15
"Hi! My name is (what?)" eheh
First I have to say that I'm not good speeking english since I'm portuguese smile
So, I've been playing piano for 8 months now, and I'm very happy!
Recently I got this book "The Jazz Piano Book - Mark Levine" and I was doing the chords that appeared and then this one made me confused!!!
I'm not bad at Music Theory, in my opinion.
But this one broke the paradigma...I thought that the root note as necessarily to be in the chord.
Like a C7 necessarily have a C, no matter what position is the note...
I got this 2 images for you guys understand, and hopefully explain to me smile
I google it but no success...


On the green - Where's the G? There is a G#, but is not the same!
On the Pink - Where's the B?
On the Purple - Where's the G again?

Thank you very much for your attention!
Bye smile

Piano & Music Accessories
#2126096 - 07/31/13 08:19 PM Re: Chord without the root note? [Re: PsychoMantis]
Hidden son of Teddy Wilson Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 01/27/09
Posts: 113
These voicings assume that there is bass player playing the root. If you're playing solo then you have to play the bass (root) yourself and you have to change things a little bit. I believe the Levine book has a chapter on solo playing, you might want to check it out

#2126296 - 08/01/13 09:10 AM Re: Chord without the root note? [Re: PsychoMantis]
Farmerjones Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 220
Loc: USA
I am from the violin/fiddle world, where all one can play is two notes of a chord. There's much insinuation, implication, when it comes to fiddle chords. As has been mentioned, if you're playing with other instruments, you can let them play the missing tones. Many fiddle chords I choose are an inference, but are correct in the context of the tune. When I started playing piano, I simply played root, 3rd, & 5th in both hands. And every song sounded the same. Every technique adds tools to use, if I can remember to use them.

#2126325 - 08/01/13 10:17 AM Re: Chord without the root note? [Re: PsychoMantis]
jjo Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/08
Posts: 670
Loc: Chicago
A little more history. In the 30s and 40s, even when piano players were in groups with other musicians, they generally played the root notes for all chords. In the late 1950s, piano players, led by Bill Evans, began to leave out the root note in their left hand when playing with a bass player. This served two functions: (1) it made sure the piano player didn't play the same note as the bass player, and (2) it allowed the piano player to play more 9ths, 11ths and 13ths, thereby adding more color to the harmony. Most modern jazz piano players follow this school and play what are called "rootless" chords when playing with a bass player. Also, if they do play the root note, it will not be the bottom note, but rather will be higher up in the voicing.

Hope this helps a bit.

#2126340 - 08/01/13 10:48 AM Re: Chord without the root note? [Re: Hidden son of Teddy Wilson]
PsychoMantis Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/29/13
Posts: 15
Thanks! Got it now wink
I'm got check it yes!

#2126342 - 08/01/13 10:49 AM Re: Chord without the root note? [Re: jjo]
PsychoMantis Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/29/13
Posts: 15
That's very interesting
Thanks for the information! smile

#2126343 - 08/01/13 10:50 AM Re: Chord without the root note? [Re: PsychoMantis]
rada Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/07/06
Posts: 1124
Loc: pagosa springs,co
You can always try playing the root quickly and then proceeding to the notes written.


#2126409 - 08/01/13 01:16 PM Re: Chord without the root note? [Re: rada]
PsychoMantis Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/29/13
Posts: 15
Yes, I tried with the sustain pedal play the bass, but then the chords will be sustained..
Maybe I will tried to get technique with the sostenuto pedal, they do the job...
It's often jazz piano solo players use that pedal?

#2126464 - 08/01/13 02:44 PM Re: Chord without the root note? [Re: PsychoMantis]
jjo Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/08
Posts: 670
Loc: Chicago
A common and very effective technique is to first play the root with the pedal, and then play in the middle of the piano the rootless chord.

#2126552 - 08/01/13 05:57 PM Re: Chord without the root note? [Re: PsychoMantis]
rada Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/07/06
Posts: 1124
Loc: pagosa springs,co
The 'art of pedaling' is that you never know one is using it.


#2126701 - 08/02/13 12:11 AM Re: Chord without the root note? [Re: PsychoMantis]
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3234

Not all chords need to have a root, whether the root is played by the piano, the bass, or anyone, even a tuba. smile

A chord without its root note has a completely different feel and sound, and is beautiful in certain applications. I love throwing them occasionally into slow 8 bar Blues, and some Gospel.
Music teacher and piano player.

Free Tune from my Blues & Boogie-Woogie Piano CD:


#2126973 - 08/02/13 02:14 PM Re: Chord without the root note? [Re: PsychoMantis]
Michael Martinez Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/22/12
Posts: 516
Loc: California
everything everyone else said is good. a little more info:

a chord's root and fifth establish the chord's "tonality." other tones establish the chord's harmony. it's up to you whether you want to balance them or if you want to concentrate on one and leave out the other. Some situations call for emphasizing one or the other. For example, it is customary on the turnaround to establish the root of the dominant chord (V) as a way to lead back into the tonic. Piano players often do this by hitting that tone with the left hand (in octaves) and keep reiterating it throughout the bars of the turnaround. This is known as a "pedal point" (not to be confused with actually using the pedal). In fake books, pedal points are often designated with a capital "P" in a box, so you take this to mean that you play that note as a bass note on the piano.

Edited by Michael Martinez (08/02/13 02:17 PM)
Music Educator, Computer Engineer, avid reader of literature, enjoyer of the outdoors


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