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8. Voicing in Amazing Grace: How to Arrange Chords for Maximum Effect


Recently, several of my private students wanted to learn Nora Jones’ Don’t Know Why. It's a song whose chord roots largely follow the circle of fifths, the sort of progression I've always found strangely irresistible. (We discussed this pattern in an earlier lesson.)

So that got me fooling around with the chord sequence, and I discovered that with only a few changes I could use it to play an accompaniment for Amazing Grace. You can hear it in the video above.

With its emphasis on seventh chords, this progression is more sophisticated than others we’ve looked at. To my ears it’s just plain gorgeous, and I thought teaching it to you in this tutorial might be a fun way to introduce the principles of voicing.

Voicing, for the uninitiated, is the flip side of voice leading. It has to do with how we distribute root, third, fifth, and so on. Grasping its principles can make the difference between playing a chord that sounds clunky, and one that sings.

Bottom line, here’s a lesson with some sweet music for you to practice, and insights guaranteed to raise your playing a notch. Enjoy!

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