Locked hands style

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Locked hands style (also known as Shearing Voicing) is a piano playing style. Popularized by the jazz pianist George Shearing, it is a way to implement the "block chord" method of harmony on a keyboard instrument.

The "locked hands" technique requires the pianist to play the melody using both hands in unison. The right hand plays a chord inversion in which the melody note is the highest note in the voicing and the other notes are as close as possible to the melody note (ideally less than one octave).[1] The left hand doubles the melody note one or two octaves lower—either as a single note or as the lowest note in a chord.[2]

While the "lock" refers to the melody note (which both hands play in rhythmic unison),[3] to achieve this result, the pianists's hands must be placed close together on the keyboard and both hands move simultaneously in the same direction. To an audience watching the performance, the pianist's hands appear to be locked together.[4]

While the technique had been employed by numerous jazz pianists prior to Shearing (Phil Moore, Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Red Garland),[5] Shearing said he was first exposed to it through Milt Buckner, the pianist for Lionel Hampton[6] and soon realized the harmonic technique was also used in the arrangements of Glenn Miller's big band:[7]

Now this may seem strange—to link Milt Buckner and Glenn Miller. But you can take the first three notes of the major scale—C, D and E. The chords could be C in the left hand, E, G, A, C in the right hand, D in the left, F A flat, B, D in the right, E in the left hand, G, A, C, E in the right. And, whether you play them in the form of improvised blues. or as the actual voicings of a tune like "Sunrise Serenade" or "Roses of Picardy" or "East Of The Sun" or whatever, it becomes a sound which people can readily identify and accept.


  1. ^ Baerman, Noah (2004). The Big Book of Jazz Piano Improvisation. Alfred Publishing. pp. 94–5. ISBN 0739031716. 
  2. ^ http://www.pianobible.com/lessons_Locked_Hands.aspx
  3. ^ http://www.scribd.com/melvin_leong/d/36872808/44-Locked-Hands
  4. ^ cite book|title=Be Bop|first=Thomas|last=Owens|publisher=Oxford University Press|isbn=0-19-510651-2
  5. ^ Block chord
  6. ^ http://www.jazzprofessional.com/interviews/George%20Shearing_1.htm
  7. ^ http://www.jazzprofessional.com/interviews/George%20Shearing_1.htm