2-5-1 Pt1:Explanation

10 Nov

2-5-1 Progression.

The 2-5-1 Progression (or to be ‘proper’ I should write II-V-I) is quite a  popular progression of chords that you will find in abundance in jazz standards and all kind of tunes. You should have figured out by now that it is made up by the second, fifth, and first chord of the harmonized major scale. In C major it would be: Dm7 G7 Cmaj7.

A good way to underline the progression in a solo is to understand what are the important notes and how they move from a chord to the next one. So let’s see two important concepts:

1. Harmonic Rhythm

The harmonic rhythm is nothing but ‘when’ certain notes happen in the rhythmic flow. Let’s say as a generic rule that important notes (root, 3rd, 5th, 7th) will make your melody sound stronger if they fall on the strong beats of the bar (the 1st and 3rd beat in a 4/4 bar).

2. Voice Leading

Voice leading is nothing but ‘how’ notes move from a chord to the other. There are ‘more advisable’ ways to move these notes, and in the traditional theory rules can be quite strict. A good rule to keep in mind in the 2-5-1 progression is the 7th in the IIm7 chord resolving to the 3rd of the V chord. Also the 3rd of the IIm7 chord  stays and turns into the 7th of the V chord. Furthermore the 7th of the V chord resolves down to the major 3rd of the I chord. The 3rd of the V chord stays the same turning into the maj7th of the I chord. In C major this would look something like this:

Dm7        G7         Cmaj7
C ——–>B -stays- B
F -stays-  F———>E
D              G              C

Listen to some examples in the next video. You can download a chart of all 2-5-1 in all keys >here< print it, learn how to play all the chords, record a track for yourself to solo over, and good luck!!

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Gianni Chiarello has gained a reputation as an extremely versatile musician, having professional credits as a guitarist, bassist, arranger and producer. His music is a preconception-free mix of Jazz, Funk, Blues, R&B and contemporary elements, influenced by . Born in Italy, in his forming years he performed with some of his country's finest musicians working towards developing different styles, from rock to pop, funk and jazz. In 1999 he moved to Boston to attend Berklee College of Music, on a scholarship program, where he graduated with a Degree "Magna cum laude" in Professional Music, studying under the direction of Mick Goodrick, Hal Crook, Brett Willmott and Dave Samuels, also playing in the Boston area and along the States' east coast as a freelance musician. Alongside studio work, he has been performing with, and leading as Musical Director, numerous bands and orchestras, comping for celebrities from the sixties like The Platters, The Coasters, Bobby Arvon, The Diamonds, Vegas – Broadway entertainers like Tony Tillman, Kenny James, Hal Fraiser, Lorna Luft, Ben Vereen, Susan Anton and Roy Walker. Furthermore his work entailed musical theatre style production reviews, encompassing shows such as “Smokey Joe’s Café”, “We Will Rock You”, “Starlight Express”, “Grease” and “Rent”. After relocating to the UK in 2005, has performed, amongst others with Robbie McIntosh (John Mayer, Paul Mccartney) Jeremy Stacey (Tom Jones, Sheryl Crow), Jason Rebello (Sting, Jeff Beck), Iain Ballamy and many others. His latest instructional eBooks can now be purchased online: “Contemporary solo guitar” (2008) and “Contemporary blues soloing” (2009) “Contemporary Blues Chords and Comping” (2011)

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