Reconciling broken 10ths and shell voicings

I love 10ths — broken 10ths literally opened the Pandora’s box of intervallic patterns for me. They’re a bit of a stretch at first (especially major, especially with accidentals), but once you’ve mastered them, your left hand accompaniment will never be the same. One annoying thing with broken 10ths, though, is that because of their span, there’s often an overlap with the right hand. Whenever my hands overlap, I get all panicky and screw everything up. In order to avoid this, I used to play right hand voicings 2 octaves above — just to be safe I have enough space to work on my 10ths. But, really, you have to face your fears, right? So here’s an exercise I’ve invented for this:

  • Play broken 10ths with the left hand
  • Play shell voicings (3-7-9) with the right
  • First note of the right hand voicing will be the 10th for the left hand
  • By the time you get to it with the left hand, move your right hand to 7-3-5 voicing of the same chord, octave above
  • No more fear of clashing-o-phobia! (Is that a word?)

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Bass day (1h 30m)

  • Chord tones (Phil Mann) — 40m
    • All triads in all inversions around the cycle (70bpm)
    • All 7th chords in all inversions around the cycle (60bpm)
  • Break
  • Functional harmony excercises (derived from Phil Mann course of the same name)
    • Superimposing G & E pentatonic scales (minor and major) over static Cmaj7 chord to explore extensions (9ths, 11ths, 13ths)
    • 6ths excercise over 12-bar blues progression:
      • play a root
      • try to play 6th above in tempo
      • if can’t, play below (it’s easier because of the pattern that looks like 5th shape but mirrored bottom to top)
      • figure out the note and immediately play it above (all in time)
    • Same with 9th


Invented a new excercise for familiarising with extensions — I always felt like I was not fluent enough in that area (like, naming m6 / M6, 11 / #11 on cue) and therefore kept avoiding using them in improvisation and — especially — walking bass lines. Though there’s a cool hack: major or minor 6th above is tricky, but below — it’s an easy pattern that looks just like 5th (or tritone) above, but sort of “mirrored”. So, although notes first shapes second, I can actually benefit from patternistic approach here and used it as a fallback when I can’t quckly recall the note name is some less-than-common key. Like, I’m playing over Eb, and I want major 6th, it’s— er— quickly playing pattern “6th below”, figuring out it’s C and nicely sliding to the high C. Boom! Same approach works for 9ths. 9th above is weird fingering, but 9th 8vb — well, it’s a second. So, just in case you were a little slow with extensions like me, here’s the helpful exercise.

Piano day (1h 30m)

  • Polytchordal voicings from Dan Haerle book (skill 61a) — in time, 92bpm, from memory
  • Cycle progressions w/ shell voicings: Dominant to Major (skill 38a) — without click, then with click at 92bpm
  • Dorian scales in all keys, in similar motion
  • Harmonisation of Dorian scale with 7th chords, all keys, without click, then with click at 70bpm (pattern: i — VII, i — viº, i — v, etc.)
  • Dorian ii7 — v7 — i7 around the cycle of 4ths, 70 bpm
  • Attempted to run i — ii — bIII▵7 — IV7… in all keys at 70bpm, but it was a bit too fast for this pattern

Piano day (1h 30m)

  • Polychordal blues voicings (that sounds fancy doesn’t it!) from Dan Haerle book (Skill 61a, analysis + playing out of time)
  • Dorian scales round the circle of 5ths starting on D — start on C and run through cycle of 4ths next time
  • A couple of Hanon exercises at 70bpm just for the hell of it — play diminished arpeggios for technique next time