What's the Major II-V-I Chord Progression - Guitar Lesson with Shapes , Tabs and Licks
- By Stef Ramin
- On 2016-12-22
- 0 comments
The major II-V-I sequence is the most common chord progression used in jazz music but also in a whole number of styles of music as pop, rock, blues, country. This theoretical element is a must know for any guitarist who wants to learn the jazz language.
The 2-5-1 progression is present in many jazz standards (Summertime, Autumn leaves, Blue bossa, All the things you are and many more), this is why it is very important to master it.
The II-V-I chord progression is made up of three basic chords constructed from the first, second and fifth degree of the major scale. First of all, you need to understand a fundamental theoretical element : The harmonization of the major scale which consists in stacking thirds starting on each degree of the major scale, in order to create seven different chords.
Let's take example in C major :
- The four note chord corresponding to the first degree (I) of the C major scale is a major seventh chord (CM7).
- The four note chord corresponding to the second degree (II) is a minor seventh chord (Dm7).
- The four note chord corresponding to the fifth degree (V) is a dominant seventh chord (G7).
These chords (in their unaltered forms) are fundamental for a first approach. When they are grouped together they form the II-V-I progression.
Dm7 | G7 | CM7 | % |
Four note chords harmonization of the I, II and V degree of the C major scale.
Any jazz guitar player must be able to recognize and play a II-V-I in any key. Here is the II-V-I progression in all twelve keys.
|Key of C||Dm7||G7||Cmaj7|
|Key of F||Gm7||C7||Fmaj7|
|Key of Bb||Cm7||F7||Bbmaj7|
|Key of Eb||Fm7||Bb7||Ebmaj7|
|Key of Ab||Bbm7||Eb7||Abmaj7|
|Key of Db||Ebm7||Ab7||Dbmaj7|
|Key of Gb||Abm7||Db7||Gbmaj7|
|Key of B||C#m7||F#7||Bmaj7|
|Key of E||F#m7||B7||Emaj7|
|Key of A||Bm7||E7||Amaj7|
|Key of D||Em7||A7||Dmaj7|
|Key of G||Am7||D7||Gmaj7|
When you want to improvise over a II-V-I sequence, the first step is to identify and connect the most important notes of the chords. These notes are the third (3) and seventh (7), they guide the movement of the harmony from chord to chord. This is what we call guide tones.
Let's take an example with a C major II-V-I sequence (Dm7 | G7 | Cmaj7) .
- The guide tones of the Dm7 are the minor third (b3) which is F and the minor seventh (b7) which is C.
- The guide tones of G7 are B (3) and F (b7).
- The guide tones of Cmaj7 are E (3) and B (7).
After understanding and playing II-V-I sequences in twelve keys using guide tones as shown in the previous example, you have now to create more elaborate jazz lines using arpeggios.
What's an Arpeggio?
This is a chord whose notes are played one by one, this way you will create fluid lines and play the most important notes.
In the first example, we will play a minor seventh arpeggio (D-F-A-C) over Dm7. This minor seventh (b7) of this arpeggio is connected with the third (3) of G7 and the b7 of G7 is connected with the third of Cmaj7. (the guide tones).
In the second example, we will use two arpeggios : Dm7 (D-F-A-C) and G7 (G-B-D-F). These two arpeggios are connected with guide tones once again.
Here are the three modes to play generated from tones of the C major scale. These three scales are used for a basic approach of the II-V-I improvisation.
- The scale starting on the first step of the C major is called Ionian mode (major scale). It will be used to play over the major chord (I) (CM7).
- The scale starting on the second degree of the C major is called D Dorian mode. It's a minor type scale because of its b3. It will be used to play over the minor (II) chord (Dm7).
- The scale starting on the fifth step of the C major is called G Mixolydian mode. It's a dominant type scale, it contains a major third (3) and a b7. It will be used to play over the dominant (V) chord (G7).
Bebop scales are a nice alternative when you want to add a bebop touch to your playing. They are made up of eight notes, including a chromatic passing tone.
- The minor bebop scale (also called "Dorian bebop scale") is the same scale as the Dorian mode but with a major third (3) between the minor third (b3) and the fourth (4th). There are two versions of this scale, one with a passing tone (3) between the b3 and the 4th and one with a passing tone (7) between the b7 and the root (this one has the same intervals as the dominant bebop scale shown below). The Dorian bebop scale can be used over minor seventh chords, so over the II of the II-V-I cadence.
- The dominant bebop scale is also made up of eight notes with a passing tone (7) between the b7 and the root. It can be played over dominant seventh chords (V).
Altered and Half-Diminished scales
Playing the Mixolydian mode or the bebop scale over the dominant 7th chord will be boring at the long run, that's why it can be interesting to add tensions in your jazz lines by using the altered and the half-whole diminished scales (including some passing tones).
Here are these two fundamental scales that will bring interesting altered lines in your playing.
- The first one is called "Altered scale" (also called "super Locrian mode"). It is the seventh mode of the melodic minor scale.
- The second one is called "Half-whole diminished scale". It contains eight notes (octatonic scale).
Here is a short II-V-I guitar line for beginner, still in the key of D minor, built with the D Dorian bebop scale (D-E-F-Gb-G-A-B-C-) and the G dominant bebop scale (G-A-B-C-D-E-F-Gb-G). Notice that these two scales are connected with two guide tones, namely b7 and b3. You can see a C major seventh arpeggio (C-E-G-B) at the end.
7 USD - II V I Jazz Backing Tracks | Secure Payment By Bandcamp / Paypal
Guitar Methods & Posters
This printable PDF method includes over 700 guitar scale diagrams and formula charts.
This PDF eBook provides over 550 guitar chord shapes. This is the perfect reference guide to understand how chords are built and how to play them on guitar.
This printable PDF is a method dedicated to guitarists of all styles who want to learn the most important types of arpeggios.
This handbook for guitar players is intended both for teachers and students. It includes 126 guitar shapes for mastering triads.
This bundle contains 4 PDF methods for a total of 170 exercises with tabs & audio files for practicing scales, licks & chords over the famous 2-5-1 progression.
This package contains 120 jazz guitar lines based on diatonic modes as Mixolydian, Dorian and Ionian. PDF format with tabs, audio files and analysis.
In this package you'll get a printable PDF Method with tabs, notation, analysis, scale shapes and audio files related to 30 smooth jazz guitar licks.
This pdf method for guitar contains fourteen 2 5 1 jazz guitar lines with tab, standard notation, analysis, scale charts and audio files.
This guitar method is a printable PDF eBook containing 50 exercises with audio files, analysis, tab & standard notation.
This PDF method contains 40 exercices with tabs, scores and audio files for practicing jazz guitar chords over the minor 2 5 1 progression.
This guitar method is a printable PDF with tabs, diagrams, theory and audio files providing 40 minor 2 5 1 jazz patterns.
PDF guitar method with tabs, audio files and theory providing 40 dominant jazz guitar lines for teachers and students.
This printable guitar method in PDF format contains 40 easy minor jazz guitar lines based on the Dorian mode.
Printable PDF eBook method containing 40 major jazz guitar licks with tab, standard notation and audio files for beginners and intermediates.
This jazz guitar method about walking bass lines and chords is available as a PDF files containing 35 exercises with tabs, analysis and audio files
This printable PDF method provides 101 dominant arpeggio exercises with tab, theory and standard notation for the jazz, blues and rock guitarist.
This printable eBook method in PDF format provides 49 jazz solo transcriptions of the greatest jazz musicians. Tab, standard notation, audio files & analysis.
This PDF method contains 11 guitar lessons with chord studies, tabs, standard notation, analysis & audio files about the main blues progressions used in jazz music.
This PDF eBook method contains 25 altered jazz guitar licks with tabs, patterns, scale charts and audio files to master, apply and develop the altered scale.
This printable method is available as a PDF file containing 40 easy dominant jazz-blues guitar lines with tabs, standard notation, analysis, audio files and scale charts.
This jazz guitar method is an eBook available as a PDF with standard notation, guitar tabs, diagrams, analysis, audio files and backing tracks. You will find in this booklet 25 easy jazz guitar lines with theory using common and rare pentatonic scales.
You will find here an eBook available in PDF containing 25 soul jazz and hard bop guitar licks in the style of Grant Green, Melvin Sparks, George Benson. These jazz lines come with tabs, standard notation, guitar neck diagrams, backing track for practice and 25 audio files for each riff.
This eBook PDF with audio files contains 25 dominant diminished jazz guitar patterns using the half-whole diminished scale and diminished 7th arpeggios.
This Printable PDF eBook available for free download contains 6 easy jazz guitar licks with tabs/notation, youtube video link and analysis about the tritone substitution.
This giant guitar poster for any guitar player, student or instructor contains colorful arpeggio diagrams.
This guitar poster contains eighteen neck diagrams representing the most used scales in music.
This giant printed color poster contains 63 guitar chord diagrams for jazz players, students, teachers and schools.
Guitar reference poster about Greek modes for guitar teachers, students and music schools.
This reference poster show the positions and intervals of the main triads used on guitar. This is a useful tool for guitarists, teacher and students.