If you’ve been on the blog the last few days, you’ve probably watched my 33-minute video teaching you how to play Robin Thicke’s “Lost Without You.”
I chose this song because of its simplicity in structure and to show you how easy it is to play a popular song… if you have the right process. Plus, I love the progressions!
Yesterday, I posted a quick lesson summarizing the chords. But I couldn’t stay long because I was headed to the hospital to support my grandma as she underwent surgery. Thanks for your prayers, by the way! She’s doing great! :-).
So today, I want to back up and show you a simple way to play the chords of “Lost Without You” in all 12 keys!
First, let’s review the four chords that dominate this song. (Again, if you haven’t watched the original video, you’re missing out and this lesson won’t have its full impact).
Once again, I’ll use my new piano tool I announced on Tuesday to show you the chords below…
Here’s the four chords…
Notice the stepwise motion between tones. That’s what makes it sound so good!
This is what we call a 2-5-1-4 chord progression.
Click here to view yesterday’s lesson. It will explain why we call it a “2-5-1-4″ progression in more detail.
But for this lesson, I want to focus specifically on the first three chords. This is the “2-5-1″ part of the chord progression.
(Alright alright! Here’s why we call this a “2-5-1-4″ chord progression… Because if you compare the bass notes of the 4 chords I posted above to the C major scale, the key this progression is in, you’ll find that “D” is the 2nd tone of the scale — “G” is the 5th tone of the scale — “C” is the 1st tone of the C major scale, of course — and “F” is the 4th tone of the scale. So the numbers come straight from the scale. Simple enough?)
But for this example, we’re only going to focus on the “2-5-1″ part of the chord progression. And let me tell ya… this is probably one of the most commonly used chords in music history! I’m serious! You can hardly play a song without using some kind of 2-5-1 progression.
They’re used to end songs because of the strong pull and resolution back “home.” Basically, you get a feeling of “ending” when you play a “2-5-1″ progression. It’s like that “2″ chord is sort of away from home. But when it progresses to the “5″ chord, it tells your ear, “Ok, we’re getting ready to go back home.” And finally when you hear any kind of “1″ chord, whether you’re a musician or not, your ear tells you, “Alas, we’re home!” That’s basically the whole idea.
Music is a combination of tension (being away from home) and release (coming back home). If you think about it, EVERYTHING in life is a combination of tension and release. You go through something in life (tension)… and then you overcome it (release). But you better not get too comfortable because something else will inevitably come up. That’s how chord progressions are. Heck, that’s how movies, books, freeways, marriages, sports — that’s how everything is!
So how can we learn this same exact “2-5-1″ progression in every key? It’s simple. We’re going to use the famous circle of fifths chart!
If you look closely at this circle, our “D to G to C” progression lies on the right side, going counter-clockwise. If you compare this chart to a clock, “D” is at 2 o’ clock, G is at 1 o’ clock, and C is at 12 o’ clock.
Here’s the secret…
This circle is filled with every “2-5-1″ chord progression you’ll ever want to play. What do you do to find them?
Just circle any 3 neighboring tones on this circle and move in a counter-clockwise direction. The last note circled in that direction will be your “home” chord just like “C” is our home chord in the example above.
Check out these examples from my circle:
If we want to play a “2-5-1″ chord progression in Bb major, we do the same thing. Circle “Bb.” Then circle the note right next to it “F” — then circle the note right next to it, “C.” Always remember that these kind of progressions always work in a counter-clockwise direction when you use this circle. In other words, it’s like telling time backwards. If you’re going the same direction your clock on the wall moves, then reverse the direction and you’ll be on track!
If we want to play a “2-5-1″ in “A major,” the process is the same. Circle the note “A.” Then back up and circle the note right next to it, “E” — then the note right next to it, “B.” Piece of cake, yeah?
So, with that said, here’s how to play the chords I taught you in the video — in ALL 12 KEYS.
C major (example)
(All on the right hand)
Step 1: From the first to the second chord, get used to lowering the left note first.
Step 2: From the second chord to the last chord (home base), get used to lowering the right note.
Step 3: Once you reach home, you’ll have to turn that “home base” chord into a minor chord so that it can operate as the “2″ chord in the next key you’re trying to move to. In other words, now that you’ve finished playing a “2-5-1″ progression in C (which is D minor 7 > G dominant 7 > C major 7), now you must prepare to convert the “C major 7″ into a minor 7 chord so that it can operate as the “2″ chord in the next key. You do that by just moving each note down a half step. That’s it.
So this chord…
(C major 7)
…this chord (C minor 7).
Then you just repeat the same pattern, except now, “C minor 7″ is the beginning of your chord progression. You’ll lower its left note and it will take you to an F dominant 7. Just like you did in the original example, you’ll then lower its right note and it will take you to a Bb major 7. So now we’ve just played a “2-5-1″ in the key of Bb major.
“2-5-1″ in Bb major:
Bbmaj7 (Bb on bass… not shown because my piano image is not wide enough)
*Notice, all we’re doing is following the circle of fifths. What was once “D to G to C” is now “C to F to Bb.” The next one will be “Bb to Eb to Ab,” all in alignment with the circle. I tell ya — once you know the circle, you’ve opened the door to tons of musical shortcuts!
So, I expect you to know the pattern by now! After we’ve successfully played Bb major 7, we lower both of its notes so that it becomes Bb minor 7. It now operates as a “2″ chord for our next progression. It’s an unending cycle, basically!
Until next time —
- You don’t have to be a math whiz to master “2-5-1″ chord progressions in every key
- Why the circle of fourths is so important when learning major scales
- Using “5-1″ Progressions To Enhance Your Playing
- “1-4″ chord progressions you can use!
- Variations of “2-5-1″ Chord Progressions
- How to use 6-4 chords in real chord progressions
- What are chord progressions?