• Connecting The Major And Minor 2-5-1 Chord Progressions

    in Chords & Progressions,Piano,Theory

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    We’ll be connecting the major and minor 2-5-1 chord progressions in this lesson.

    A chord progression is the [harmonic] movement of chords from one degree of the scale to another.

    The C major scale has eight degrees:

    …and the harmonic movement from the tonic chord:

    …to the chord of the third degree:

    …is a chord progression. Chord progressions according to Jermaine Griggs (2016), “…are like blood flow. They keep the music alive.”

    If you give me the next ten minutes or so, you’ll be learning the major and minor 2-5-1 progressions and how you can connect them together.

    The 2-5-1 Chord Progression

    The 2-5-1 chord progression is the strongest chord progression in tonal music, obviously because of the cyclical movement in fifths.

    Every major or minor key has a scale. This scale orders the tones of the key from the tonic to the octave.

    Suggested reading: What Are Scale Degree Or Technical Names?

    These tones can also be numbered from one to eight. The C major scale:

    …and the C minor scale:

    …can be ordered numerically from one to eight. Check out the table below…

    Scale Tones 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th
    C Major C D E F G A B C
    C Minor C D Eb F G Ab Bb C

    The term 2-5-1 defines the movement of the root of chords in progression, from the second degree to the fifth degree of the scale, and then from the fifth degree of the scale to the first degree of the scale.

    In the key of C major and C minor, the second, fifth, and first tones of the scale are D:

    …G:

    …and C:

    …respectively.

    The Effect Of Tonality In The 2-5-1 Chord Progression

    In music, there are two distinct tonalities (popularly known as key.) One is the major key and another is the minor key.

    These tonalities have their peculiarities in scales, intervals, chords, chord progressions, and even songs.

    Peculiarity In Scale

    The C major scale:

    …and the C minor scale:

    …are founded on the same letter name, however, they differ from each other because of tonality.

    Peculiarity In Chord

    The C major tonic triad:

    …and the C minor tonic triad:

    …are founded on the same letter name, however, they differ from each other in terms of quality.

    In the same vein, the C major 2-5-1 differs from the C minor 2-5-1 and the destination of each of the chord progressions is to different tonic chords – which makes each of them peculiar.

    Let’s quickly learn the major and minor 2-5-1 chord progressions using seventh chords.

    The Major 2-5-1 Chord Progression

    A 2-5-1 chord progression in the key of C major:

    …would involve D:

    …G:

    …and C:

    Let’s form scale degree seventh chords in the key of C major on D, G, and C, which are chords 2, 5, and 1.

    Chord 2

    The root of chord 2 is in the second tone of the C major scale – D:

    Adding other tones in thirds…

    D and F:

    …and A:

    …and C:

    …produces the D minor seventh chord, that encompasses seven degrees of the scale from D to C:

    Chord 5

    The root of chord 5 is in the fifth tone of the C major scale, which is G:

    If we add other chord tones in thirds…

    G and B:

    …and D:

    …and F:

    …this would form the G dominant seventh chord, encompassing seven degrees of the [C major] scale from G to F:

    Chord 1

    The root of chord 1 is in the first tone of the C major scale – C:

    Adding other tones in thirds…

    C and E:

    …and G:

    …and B:

    …produces the C major seventh chord, that encompasses seven degrees of the scale from C to B:

    If we put these chords together, we’ll have…

    The D minor seventh chord:

    …chord 2, then the G dominant seventh chord:

    …chord 5, then the C major seventh chord:

    …chord 1.

    Due to what music scholars call voice leading principles, the major 2-5-1 chord progression is usually played thus:

    Chord 2:

    Chord 5:

    Chord 1:

    Suggested reading: Voice Leading Techniques for Approaching The 2-5-1 Chord Progression.

    The Minor 2-5-1 Chord Progression

    A 2-5-1 chord progression in the key of C minor:

    …involves D:

    …G:

    …and C:

    Let’s form scale degree seventh chords in the key of C minor – on D, G, and C – which are chords 2, 5, and 1.

    Chord 2

    The root of chord 2 is in the second tone of the C natural minor scale – D:

    Adding other tones in thirds…

    D and F:

    …and Ab:

    …and C:

    …produces the D half-diminished seventh chord, that encompasses seven degrees of the C minor scale from D to C:

    Chord 5

    The root of chord 5 is in the fifth tone of the C harmonic minor scale, which is G:

    If we add other chord tones in thirds…

    G and B:

    …and D:

    …and F:

    …this would form the G dominant seventh chord:

    …encompassing seven degrees of the [C harmonic minor] scale from G to F:

    Submission: The use of the harmonic minor scale here in chord 5 is because of the shortcomings of the natural minor scale.

    Chord 1

    The root of chord 1 is in the first tone of the C natural minor scale – C:

    Adding other tones in thirds…

    C and Eb:

    …and G:

    …and Bb:

    …produces the C minor seventh chord, that encompasses seven degrees of the scale from C to Bb:

    If we put these chords together, we’ll have…

    The D half-diminished seventh chord:

    …chord 2, then the G dominant seventh chord:

    …chord 5, then the C minor seventh chord:

    …chord 1.

    If we apply voice leading principles, the minor 2-5-1 chord progression can be connected smoothly thus:

    Chord 2:

    Chord 5:

    Chord 1:

    Before we end today’s lesson, let’s connect the major and minor 2-5-1 chord progression.

    Connecting The Major And Minor 2-5-1 Chord Progression

    In a previous lesson on key relationships, we covered relative keys. In this segment, we’ll be connecting 2-5-1 chord progressions in two relative keys – a major key and a minor key.

    The key of A minor:

    …is the relative key of C major:

    Therefore, the goal of this segment is to show you step by step, how you can connect the 2-5-1 chord progression in these two keys.

    Check it out…

    The 2-5-1 chord progression to C major consists of the following chords…

    D minor seventh chord:

    G dominant seventh chord:

    C major seventh chord:

    …while the 2-5-1 chord progression to A minor (which is the relative key) consists of the following chords…

    B half-diminished seventh chord:

    E dominant seventh chord:

    A minor seventh chord:

    If we put the root of these progressions together we’ll have:

    D – G – C and B – E – A

    Using the number system, we can breakdown the root progressions [using the C major scale as a reference] thus:

    2

    5

    1

    7

    3

    6

    Here’s what it looks like in the key of C…

    Take note that there are fourths [or fifths] in between the root of the chord progressions…

    D to G:

    G to C:

    B to E:

    E to A:

    …are all fourths.

    A chord progression that involves a root movement in a certain interval is known as a cyclical progression. In the key of C:

    …a cyclical progression in fourths from D:

    …the second degree of the scale, moves in fourths in this manner…

    D to G:

    G to C:

    C to F:

    F to B:

    B to E:

    E to A:

    A to D:

    Here’s what it looks like:

    Altogether, we have the major 2-5-1 (aka – “2-5-1 chord progression”):

    …and the minor 2-5-1 (aka – “7-3-6 chord progression”):

    …linked together by the fourth degree of the scale:

    In a nutshell, in between the major and minor 2-5-1 chord progression in relative keys lies the fourth degree.

    Great job! Let’s put it together.

    Putting It Together

    The scale degree chord of the fourth degree is a major seventh chord. In the key of C, it’s the F major seventh chord:

    Let’s connect the major and minor 2-5-1 chord progressions in the keys of C major and A minor together…

    Chord 2:

    Chord 5:

    Chord 1:

    …brings us to the end of the major 2-5-1 chord progression.

    Chord 4:

    …is the harmonic link between the major and minor 2-5-1 chord progression.

    Chord 7:

    Chord 3:

    Chord 6:

    …brings us to the end of the minor 2-5-1 chord progression.

    I hope you’ve learned how to connect the major and minor 2-5-1 chord progressions. Please, do me the favor of practicing this in all keys.

    All the best!

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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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    { 1 comment… read it below or add one }

    1 zino

    good

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