Tips on Playing Phat Chords

I want to thank all of my readers for your messages. I appreciate all the requests and I will post some answers that will hopefully take your piano playing to the next level.
One reader, Akindele asked for help regarding phat chord application. You might want to check on my former posts regarding phat chords, too.
"PHAT" is just a slang term used by most musicians to define the flavour of Black Gospel music - specifically, the chord progressions. However, all phat chords are simply "extended" chords.
So let me explain what an extended chord is. Extended chords are mainly featured in Jazz music and you need a firm understanding of these chords in order to apply them effectively. This is because they don't make sense initially. Anyway, so to understand PHAT chords, you must have a good understanding of jazz chords, or extended chords. To understand extended chords, you must know scale degrees and how to form extended or altered chords. Let's look at an extended scale in C:

C - D - E - F - G - A - B - C - D - E - F - G - A
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

The number below each letter represents what position that note falls on in the scale. The C is the 1 chord, D is the 2 chord etc.

Most chords are built upon using the 1,3,5,7,9,11,&13th notes in the scale in varying combinations.  If we want to form a C7 chord for example, we have to use the notes C, E, G, and B, which would be a Bb.

If we want to form a C9 chord, we have to use all the previous notes plus add the D, which is the 9th note in the extended scale. C, E, G, Bb, D

Ok now we want to build a C11 chord.  Just add the llth note, which is F and we would have C, E, G, Bb, D, F Now you see why they are called extended chords. Now obviously you cannot play all six notes in the right hand. With extended chords, you must utilize both the right and left hands to get in all the notes. This is called voicing the chord and can be done a number of different ways. The easiest way is to play the 1 & 5 notes in the left hand, and play the others in the right. Left Hand/Right Hand or CG/BbDEF or another way might be to just play the CEG ( a C chord) in the left hand and BbDF (a Bb chord) in the right. Or CEG/BbDF. You always want to voice the chords with the root of the chord (It is the C here) in the pinky of the left hand as that becomes the base note and identifies what type of chord it actually is.

And then lastly, to form a C13 chord you would add the 13th note, A to the others for a whopping big ("phat") chord. C, E, G, Bb, D, F, A

Some chord charts will shorten the chord to just include the extended notes. They might list a C13 as having just C, Bb, D, F, A, which will work, but technically speaking, it is all 7 notes. Because there are numbers of ways to voice extended chords, a comparison of several different chord charts could yield different voicings. Do what works best for you. The chord needs to comfortable and easy for you to play and have the correct sound to it. Let your ear make the decision. (Great tips from Kwaku on Facebook).
1. Keyboardman sharing Phat Chord Patterns in G:
Here are some phat chord progressions I use in G. Now you have to have a good reach because I love to use all the fingers to phatten up the chord sound. Enjoy.........
L.h / R.h
G D / A B D Gb B
Gb Db E / A Db E Ab B
F C Eb / A D G B
E B D / G B E Gb A
D A D /F A C E G
Db / F B Eb G
C G C / E G D C
F C Eb / A D Eb G
G D / A B D Gb
2. Here's a popular hymn using smooth phat chords. Are you familiar with Because He lives?
Ab/ Gb-C-Eb-Ab, Gb-C-F    Db/ Bb-Db-F-Ab   Bb/ Ab-Db-F     A/ G-C-E
God sent his                           son                     they
Ab/ Gb-B-Eb  Db/ F-Bb-B-Eb  Gb/ F-Ab-Bb-Eb  G/ F-Ab-Bb-Db 
called                  him                  Jesus                  he         
C/ A-Ab-Bb-Eb   F/ C-Eb-F-Ab  G/ D-Eb-G-Bb   A/ Eb-Gb-A-C
came                   to love
Bb/ F-Ab-Bb-Db   Gb/ Bb-Eb-E-Ab  B/ Gb-Bb-Db-Eb  E/ Ab-Db-Gb
                            heal and              forgive
Eb/ A-Db-E   Ab/ A-C-Eb-Ab  Db/ A-Eb-F-Ab  Ab/ Gb-B-Eb  Db/ F-Bb-D
                      he lived and      died to              buy                my
Gb/ Ab-Bb-Db-F   Gb/ A-Db-E-Ab  B/ A-Db-Eb-Gb  Ab/ Ab-Db-F 
Pardon                    an                     empty                grave                     
Bb/ Ab-D-Gb  Eb/ G-Bb-Db-F  Ab/ Gb-Bb-Db-Eb, Gb-Bb-C-Eb 
is there               to prove                   my savior 
Db/ Eb-F-Ab-Db  Ab/ Eb-Ab-Db, Ab-C-Eb  Db/ Ab-C-F  Ab/ B-Eb-Gb   
lives                           because he                lives           I
Db/ F-B-Eb   Gb/ F-Bb-Eb  G/ E-A-Db  C/ Gb-B-Eb  F/ C-Eb-Ab   
can face         tomorrow          be          cause         he lives
F/A-Db-Eb-Ab, Gb  Bb/C-F-A  Eb/G-C-Db-F  Ab/Gb-Bb-Eb  Bb/F-Ab-Db 
                                                    all fear is        gone       because
C/Ab-C-Eb  Db/Ab-Db-F  G/B-Eb-G-Bb Gb/F-Ab-Bb-Eb  Eb/A-Db-Eb-Gb 
I                   know               he holds          the future     and
F/ Ab-Db-Eb-F   Gb/ A-Db-Eb-Gb  Ab/ Ab-Db-F    Bb/ D-Gb-Bb-Db   
    Life                    is                   worth the             living
Eb/ C-F-G-C   Ab/ Gb-Bb-C-Eb   B/ Eb-Ab-Db   
  just                 because            he lives

Fat Piano Chord Progression Voicings Phat 2

3. Mr. Phatness shares some phat chord tips over at 
Try this 2-5-1 out.. it may only be a few notes but it sounds great. These are rootless voicing meaning that the root of each chord is not being playing in either the LH or the RH so you could use these chords with either a bass player or when the organist is running bass.. I would use these chords during a slow song.. it has a that type of sound to me.

To get the sound if rootless voicing are new to you... play the bass note (BN) and use the sustain pedal to hold the bass note then move up the piano to play the chords...

You'll be in the key of C
Dm / G / C


Now to the key of Db
Ebm / Ab / Db


Keep going until you get to Gb, now play the 2-5-1 progression this way when you get to key of Gb (this voicing will help you stay in the same range on the keyboard as you're changing keys... keeping the chord changes smooth...)
Key of Gb
Abm  / Db / Gb


Now to key of G
Am / D / G


Continue to Cb and you've done you're 2-5-1 in every Major key!!! These are great voicings to use in group settings when the piano is not the only instrument.

All the best,
-- LadyD

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