Techniques on How to Voice a Chord on the Piano?

by KnowYourPiano

Well, there's nothing wrong with the title, in terms of grammar, but the fact is that 'Voicing' has got nothing to do with using your vocals.

It's a technical (musical) term that is used to refer to the various ways in which the notes of a chord can be arranged.

Is it the same as inversions? Not really, but it does involve using the notes of the chords in various ways, besides the more common ways such as root position & inversions.


Piano Techniques on How to Voice a Chord on the Piano?


Can we have some examples?

Here we go then.

The "C" chord is made up of 3 notes, C, E, and G, and we know the various ways in which the notes can be arranged (inversions).

But there are more ways in which the notes can be spaced out.

We could have C on the bottom of the chord, skip the E, and have G come next, with E on top.

And because we are skipping notes in between to create a space, this is also known "open voicing", because there's an 'opening' between the various notes of the chord.

On the other hand, chords that don't have any openings are also called "closed" voicing.

You can also combine the closed and open voicing with inversions, to get many more possibilities.


  1. For example, if you put E on the bottom of the chord, skip G, then use C, with the G on top, you have the 'first inversion of the C chord in open voicing'.
  2. If you put G on the bottom of the chord, skip the C, then use E, with the C on top, you get the '2nd inversion of the C chord in open voicing'.



How to Practice?
More than how to play, the challenge here is to train your ears so they understand the differences when you are using various voicings.

So, as you learn to use voicings on your piano, its important that you LISTEN to the differences in the various sounds between 'open-voiced' chords and 'closed-voiced' chords. Do the same when playing inverted chords in open and closed voicing.

You can see that you get a lot of different sounds out of just one chord, if you use voicing creatively!

The next step is to transpose the songs that you usually play into all other keys, and watch the chords change as you do.

As you practice, don't forget to Listen, as you'll be developing your ears, while you build more understanding about using chords.

And don't expect to your ears to start recognizing these voicings overnight, it takes time.

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Video example
by: Bill




Smaller hands
by: Kelvin

If you understand these concepts, you can actually project the sound of various chords using just a few notes.

So even if you have smaller hands, its not a problem.

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