Piano Lesson: 3 Note ii-V-I Voicings in all Keys
Ahh the famous ii-V-I progression. If you've started to dig into jazz piano at all you've likely come across this progression. The best way to start learning how to play over it is to start with simple chord voicings. In this video, the voicings consist of 3 notes: the root note, the 3rd and the 7th.
The important thing to recognize is the movement of these notes on the piano as you go from the ii chord to the V chord, and as you go from the V chord to the I chord. Lets first consider these piano voicings in the key of C. The ii chord in C will be Dminor7, the V chord is G7 and the I chord is Cmaj7.
In your left had you will be playing the root of the chord. In your right you will be playing the 3rd and the 7th. So, for D minor, you'll have a D (root) in your left hand and an F (third) and C (seventh) in your right hand.
Now, to move to the V chord is easy. All you need to do is lower the 7th of the ii chord by a half step. So, in your right hand, bring the C down to a B and don't move anything else . In your left had, change the root note from a to a G. You now have root, third and seventh of the V chord.
The final step is to resolve to the I chord and again it only involves moving one note in your right hand. To do this, in your right hand lower the 7th by a half step again (F moves to an E). In your right hand the E is now the 3rd of the I chord and the B is the maj 7th of the I chord. If you hold these two notes while playing a C in the bass, you will have successfully resolved to the I chord and completed your ii-V-I progression.
Work your way slowly through this in all keys. You can watch the piano lesson video and follow along with the chord changes. Take your time on learning these chords. Once you have them under your fingers on the piano you will have taken a large step towards learning the jazz language.