• How To Play 2-5-1 Chord Progressions Using Thirds And Sevenths

    in Chords & Progressions,Piano,Theory

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    In today’s post, we’re looking at the major 2-5-1 chord progression using tenths and sevenths.

    Considering that tenths and sevenths are intervals that you can play on the left hand, I will also be showing you right hand chords that you sophisticate these tenths and sevenths with, so that you’ll not just have something to play on the left hand, but also chords (aka – “harmonic structures”) on the right hand.

    Let’s get started in this post by breaking down the concept of the 2-5-1 chord progression.

    The 2-5-1 Chord Progression

    A chord progression simply means a movement of chords from one degree of the scale to another. Traditional scales [like the C major scale] have eight degrees – from the first degree:

    …to the eighth degree:

    …from C to C:

    …and the C minor scale:

    …also has eight degrees from C to C.

    “What Would You Answer If Someone Asks You What A 2-5-1 Chord Progression Is?”

    According to Jermaine Griggs, “the 2-5-1 chord progression is a cyclical chord movement from the second, to the fifth, and then to the first tone of the scale in a major or minor key.” Consequently, there’s a major and a minor 2-5-1 chord progression.

    In the 2-5-1 chord progression using the C major scale:

    …where:

    D is 2

    G is 5

    C is 1

    …is a movement from the D minor seventh:

    …to the G dominant seventh:

    …and finally to the C major seventh chord:

    …while the 2-5-1 chord progression using the C minor scale:

    D is 2

    G is 5

    C is 1

    …is the chord movement from the D half-diminished seventh:

    …to the G dominant seventh:

    …and finally to the C minor seventh chord:

    Now that you have an idea of the major and minor 2-5-1 chord progressions respectively, let’s derive the corresponding tenth and seventh intervals.

    Tenths And Sevenths

    The major 2-5-1 chord progression to C major has the following tenths…

    D minor tenth:

    G major tenth:

    C major tenth:

    Here’s how they are derived…

    The D minor seventh chord:

    …is chord 2, and from its third interval (D-F):

    …we can be able to derive its tenth (D-F):

    …a minor tenth.

    The G dominant seventh chord:

    …is chord 5, and from its third interval (G-B):

    …we can be able to derive its tenth (G-B):

    …a major tenth.

    The C major seventh chord:

    …is chord 1, and from its third interval (C-E):

    …we can be able to derive its tenth (C-E):

    …a major tenth.

    Here are the seventh intervals of the major 2-5-1 chord progression to C major…

    D minor seventh:

    G minor seventh:

    C major seventh:

    Here’s how they are derived…

    The D minor seventh chord:

    …is chord 2 and has D-C:

    …a minor seventh interval.

    The G dominant seventh chord:

    …is chord 5 and has G-F:

    …a minor seventh interval.

    The C major seventh chord:

    …is chord 2 and has C-B:

    …a major seventh interval.

    Let’s look at how we can play the major 2-5-1 chord progression using tenths and sevenths.

    2-5-1 Chord Progressions Using Tenths And Sevenths

    Using the tenths and sevenths we covered in the previous segment, here’s a 2-5-1 chord progression – check it out!

    The Major 2-5-1 Chord Progression

    In the key of C major:

    …using the tenth intervals we learned in the previous segment, here’s a 2-5-1 chord progression…

    2:

    5:

    1:

    …and this is also another 2-5-1 chord progression using seventh intervals…

    2:

    5:

    1:

    Playing the 2-5-1 chord progression using tenths or sevenths alone involves so much movement of the hand. For a smoother connection between the progressions, we need to imbibe what music scholars call voice leading principles.

    “Here’s how to connect the progression using voice leading principles…”

    Alternating between a tenth and a seventh leads to a smoother connection between the root notes of the 2-5-1 chord progression.

    From a tenth in chord 2:

    …to a seventh is chord 5:

    …and then a tenth in chord 1:

    Altogether, we have the tenth, seventh, and tenth.

    D minor tenth

    G minor seventh

    C major tenth

    There’s an alternate approach to playing the major 2-5-1 progression using tenths and sevenths. Check it out!

    Instead of starting with the tenth, we’ll be starting with the seventh. From a seventh in chord 2:

    …to a tenth is chord 5:

    …and then a seventh in chord 1:

    Altogether, we have the tenth, seventh, and tenth.

    D minor seventh

    G major tenth

    C major seventh

    You’re not wrong if you call this alternate approach a ‘seventh, tenth, seventh.’

    In a nutshell, there are two approaches to playing the major 2-5-1 progression – the tenth, seventh, tenth and the seventh, tenth, seventh.

    The Minor 2-5-1 Chord Progression

    In the key of C minor:

    …here’s a 2-5-1 chord progression…

    2:

    5:

    1:

    …using tenths that we covered earlier, and this is also another 2-5-1 chord progression using seventh intervals…

    2:

    5:

    1:

    Attention: A closer look at the seventh intervals for the minor 2-5-1 chord progression shows a uniformity. The D half-diminished seventh chord (chord 2) has the minor seventh interval, and so does the G dominant seventh chord (chord 5) and the C minor seventh chord (chord 1.)

    If you are wondering why these three chord qualities all have minor seventh intervals then you have to check out my post on what 60% of common chord qualities have in common.

    Using voice leading principles, here’s how to smoothly connect a minor 2-5-1 chord progression in the key of C minor…

    From a tenth in chord 2:

    …to a seventh is chord 5:

    …and then a tenth in chord 1:

    Altogether, we have the tenth, seventh, and tenth.

    D minor tenth

    G minor seventh

    C minor tenth

    There’s an alternate approach to playing the minor 2-5-1 progression using tenths and sevenths. Check it out!

    Instead of starting with the tenth, we’ll be starting with the seventh. From a seventh in chord 2:

    …to a tenth is chord 5:

    …and then a seventh in chord 1:

    Altogether, we have the tenth, seventh, and tenth.

    D minor seventh

    G major tenth

    C minor seventh

    Final Thoughts

    Now that we have covered the 2-5-1 chord progression using tenths and sevenths, let’s end by learning a few chords to play on the right hand over these 2-5-1 progressions.

    “…For The Major 2-5-1 Chord Progression”

    Chord 2

    Over the D minor tenth interval:

    …play the B voicing of the F major seventh chord:

    …on the right hand, to form an overall D minor ninth chord:

    Chord 5

    Over the G minor seventh interval:

    …play the A voicing of the B half-diminished seventh chord:

    …on the right hand, to form an overall G dominant ninth chord:

    Chord 1

    Over the C major tenth interval:

    …play the B voicing of the E minor seventh chord:

    …on the right hand, to form an overall C major ninth chord:

    Altogether, here’s a major 2-5-1 chord progression using tenths and sevenths on the left hand and chords on the right…

    Chord 2:

    Chord 5:

    Chord 1:

    Check out the minor 2-5-1 chord progression as well!

    “…For The Minor 2-5-1 Chord Progression”

    Chord 2

    Over the D minor seventh interval:

    …play the A voicing of the F minor major seventh chord:

    …on the right hand, to form an overall D half-diminished seventh [major ninth] chord:

    Chord 5

    Over the G major tenth interval:

    …play the A voicing of the F half-diminished seventh chord:

    …on the right hand, to form an overall G altered dominant chord:

    Chord 1

    Over the C minor seventh interval:

    …play the A voicing of the Eb major seventh chord:

    …on the right hand, to form an overall C minor ninth chord:

    Altogether, here’s the minor 2-5-1 chord progression using tenths and sevenths on the left hand and chords on the right…

    Chord 2:

    Chord 5:

    Chord 1:

    This is where I’ll wrap it up for today and I’ll see you in another lesson.

    Hope you learned something?

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    Hello, I'm Chuku Onyemachi (aka - "Dr. Pokey") - a musicologist, pianist, author, clinician and Nigerian. Inspired by my role model Jermaine Griggs, I started teaching musicians in my neighborhood in April 2005. Today, I'm privileged to work as the head of education, music consultant, and chief content creator with HearandPlay Music Group sharing my wealth of knowledge with hundreds of thousands of musicians across the world.

    Attention: To learn more about this, I recommend our 500+ page course: The "Official Guide To Piano Playing." Click here for more information.




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    { 3 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Tabatha

    Just beginner and the fundamental basics is what needed thanks for sending me this link

    Reply

    2 Lawrence Consulta

    I’m following-up the sets of videos you are showing and they are very helpful for me. All I need is to apply them, first by much practice and use them when I play in the church.Thank you very much. Sorry again that I cannot avail of the CD’s you are offering free. As a Catholic religious, I really have no money to pay even just the freight for the things you are offering free.

    Reply

    3 Carolyn

    Thanks. Very good

    Reply

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