Common-Tone Voicings

I was working through some chord changes recently and was wondering if I could maintain a common-tone in the upper voice while moving through multiple changes of harmony. I decided to use the standard “Autumn Leaves” changes as my chord progression and include each the notes of the G major scale as my common-tone in the soprano through the entire sequence of chords. It worked beautifully with two exceptions; when the fourth (eleventh) was harmonized by a major seventh chord (measures seventeen and eighteen) and when a minor sixth was harmonized by a minor seventh chord (measure twenty-one). In those cases I adjusted the upper voice by a half-step in order to create an acceptable harmony. The chord progression I used was as follows:

Am7 – D7 – Gmaj7 – Cmaj7 – F#m7b5 – B7 – Em7

I began with A in the soprano in line one, then B in line two and so on through the entire G major scale. I did include the D# once (E harmonic minor) for a more convincing cadence in measure thirty-four.

The voicings are on the first four strings only and many are rootless. I think you will find all are quite practical and comfortable to play. Since we have a common-tone on top all voicings are in close proximity and almost all have common-tone or step-wise connections within the inner voices as we move from chord to chord. You will notice that most of the commonly used extensions of the fundamental seventh chords can be found by reading down each column.

I think you will enjoy this little study and you may find some new and interesting voicings for your next gig.


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