Comping: 4-Note Rootless Voicings (Roman Numerals)

Rootless Voicings evolved mostly during the 1950s. Bill Evans was the first to put them to consistent use. His four-note, rootless chord voicings consist of guide tones (thirds and sevenths), along with chord tones & extensions. These extensions typically include the 9th and 13th for dominant chords, and the 9th for most other chords. Playing the root is left to the bass player.

The standard tones used for basic rootless voicings are:

  • 3-5-7-9 for major and minor seventh chords
  • 3-5-6-9 for major sixth chords
  • 7-9-3-13 for dominant seventh chords


To practice these voicings in all 12 keys while only reading the roman numerals is crucial.

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