• An Easier Way To Play The 2-5-1 Chord Progression Using Diminished Seventh Chords

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    In this lesson, we’ll be focusing on how the 2-5-1 chord progression can be played using the diminished seventh chord.

    The 2-5-1 chord progression is arguably the strongest chord progression in music because it consists of the movement of root notes by a fifth interval.

    From the 2nd tone of the scale to the fifth tone is a fifth and so is the movement from the fifth tone to the first tone (more on this later).

    Due to the need of passing chords and dynamic chord progressions, the 2-5-1 chord progression has a special place in popular music styles like jazz and gospel music and that’s why we’re dedicating this lesson to learning how to play the 2-5-1 chord progression using diminished seventh chords.

    A Quick Review On The 2-5-1 Chord Progression

    A chord progression consists of the movement of chords from one tone of the scale to another. The numbers “2-5-1” are used to define the chords used in the chord progression, which are chord 2, chord 5, and chord 1.

    The Major 2-5-1 Chord Progression

    The major 2-5-1 chord progression is a chord progression in the major key. For example, in the key of C major:

    D is 2:

    G is 5:

    C is 1:

    Therefore a 2-5-1 chord progression moves from the D minor seventh chord:

    …to the G dominant seventh chord:

    …then to the C major seventh chord:

    Application Of Diminished Seventh Chords In 2-5-1 Chord Progressions

    I’m about to take you by the hand and show you step-by-step, how diminished seventh chords can be used to play 2-5-1 chord progressions.

    But before we do that, let’s go ahead and refresh our minds on diminished seventh chords.

    A Short Note On Diminished Seventh Chords

    A diminished seventh chord consists of a diminished triad and a diminished seventh interval. For example, the only diminished triad in the key of C major:

    …is the scale-tone chord of the seventh degree (which is the B diminished triad):

    The addition of a note that is a diminished seventh interval above the root of the chord (which is Ab):

    …produces the B diminished seventh chord:

    “Check Out All The Diminished Seventh Chords In The Key…”

    C diminished seventh chord:

    C# diminished seventh chord:

    D diminished seventh chord:

    D# diminished seventh chord:

    E diminished seventh chord:

    F diminished seventh chord:

    F# diminished seventh chord:

    G diminished seventh chord:

    G# diminished seventh chord:

    A diminished seventh chord:

    A# diminished seventh chord:

    B diminished seventh chord:

    Alright! Let’s proceed to learning how 2-5-1 chord progressions can be played using diminished seventh chords.

    Diminished Seventh Chords In Major 2-5-1 Chord Progressions

    The 2-5-1 chord progression consists of three chords: chord 2, chord 5, and chord 1. Chord 2 and chord 5 have the same chord quality: the dominant seventh flat ninth chord.

    Formation of Chord 2. Chord 2 can be formed by playing a diminished seventh chord that is a half-step above the root note of chord 2.

    On the second tone (which is D):

    …we can form the D dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord by playing a diminished seventh chord that is a half-step above D (which is the D# diminished seventh chord):

    So, the D# diminished seventh chord:

    …played over D:

    …produces the D dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord:

    …which is chord 2.

    Formation of Chord 5. Chord 5 can be formed by lowering the diminished seventh chord of chord 2 by a half-step.

    On the fifth tone (which is G):

    …we can form the G dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord by lowering the diminished seventh chord we previously derived (which is the D# diminished seventh chord):

    …by a half-step to the D diminished seventh chord:

    So, the D diminished seventh chord:

    …played over G:

    …produces the G dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord:

    …which is chord 5.

    Formation of Chord 1. Chord 1 can be formed by playing a major seventh chord on the first tone of the scale in the key you’re in.

    In the key of C major:

    …the first tone is C:

    …therefore, chord 1 is the C major seventh chord:

    …played over C in the bass.

    “Let’s Put This To Work In The Key Of Bb Major…”

    Chord 2:

    Chord 5:

    Chord 1:

    “Let’s Put This To Work In The Key Of E Major…”

    Chord 2:

    Chord 5:

    Chord 1:

    “Let’s Put This To Work In The Key Of G Major…”

    Chord 2:

    Chord 5:

    Chord 1:

    Final Words

    2-5-1 chord progressions can’t be easier with diminished seventh chords. Mastering these 2-5-1 progression in all the keys might take some time, however, it’s worth it.

    In a subsequent lesson, we’ll go further into the minor 2-5-1 chord progression.

    See you then!

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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 a music consultant and content creator with HearandPlay Music Group sharing my wealth of knowledge with thousands of musicians across the world.

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