• Improvisation Ideas For The 2-5-1 Chord Progression

    in Experienced players,Gospel music,Jazz music,Piano,Scales,Theory

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    In this lesson, we’ll be exploring improvisation ideas for the 2-5-1 chord progression.

    Attention: Although this lesson is written with Jazz pianists in mind, you can benefit immensely too if you’re a gospel pianist.

    The 2-5-1 chord progression is one of the back-bone progressions in gospel and jazz harmony. Heck, most songs end on the 2-5-1 chord progression 95% of the time.

    The ideas we’re covering in this lesson are only a small chunk of the unlimited number of ideas. However, learning and understanding these ideas will start you out on the right path.

    Let’s get started by refreshing our minds on the 2-5-1 chord progression.

    A Short Note On The 2-5-1 Chord Progression

    There are seven unique tones in every major or minor key. The key of C major:

    …consists of seven unique tones: C, D, E, F, G, A, and B.

    Every tone has its unique chord and each of the chords are numbered in terms of their position in the C major scale and this produces a number system.

    The C note:

    …is the first tone of the C major scale:

    …therefore, the C major seventh chord:

    …is the 1-chord.

    The D minor seventh chord:

    …is the 2-chord.

    Altogether, there are seven unique chords in the major key and they are collectively referred to as scale-tone chords.

    The movement between scale tone chords produces a chord progression and the 2-5-1 chord progression is basically a chord progression between the following scale tone chords:

    The 2-chord

    The 5-chord

    The 1-chord

    A classic example of the 2-5-1 chord progression in the key of C major is the movement from the 2-chord (which is the D minor seventh chord):

    …to the 5-chord (which is the G dominant seventh chord):

    …then to the 1-chord (which is the C major seventh chord):

    “Here’s The 2-5-1 Chord Progression…”

    The 2-chord:

    The 5-chord:

    The 1-chord:

    There are so any approaches to the 2-5-1 chord progression using a variety of chords and voicings but that’s not our focus in this lesson.

    Let’s go ahead and learn scale ideas that can be used to improvise over the 2-5-1 chord progression.

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

    Scale Ideas For The 2-Chord

    The ideas we’ll cover in this segment will be given in the key of C major and the 2-chord in this case is the D minor ninth chord:

    The Dorian Mode

    The Dorian mode:

    …is a compatible scale with the D minor ninth chord:

    …and one of the regular options for the 2-chord in jazz.

    The Dorian Bebop Scale

    The Dorian bebop scale:

    …is also another scale option over the D minor ninth chord:

    …and it sounds a lot more sophisticated than the regular Dorian mode.

    Pentatonic Scales

    There are a handful of pentatonic scales that can can be played over the D minor ninth chord:

    “Here Are Three Examples…”

    The C major pentatonic scale:

    The F major pentatonic scale:

    The G major pentatonic scale:

    Other Scales

    The F major bebop scale:

    …can also be played over the D minor ninth chord:

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

    Scale Ideas For The 5-Chord

    The Mixolydian Mode

    The Dominant Bebop Scale

    Pentatonic Scales

    Other Scales

    Scale Ideas For The 1-Chord

    The Lydian Mode

    The Major Bebop Scale

    Pentatonic Scales

    Other Scales

    Final Words

    Using the scales we’ve covered in this lesson, I’m very certain you’ll have more interesting melodic lines.

    However, you’ll have to practice these scales thoroughly using rhythmic varieties: eighth notes, eighth note triplets, sixteenth notes, and sixteenth note triplets.

    Recommendation: Endeavor to practice these scale ideas in all the 12 major keys.

    See you in the next lesson.

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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 Carolyn

    Thank for the ideas for the 2-5-1 Chord progression. Thanks for letting me know that the 2-5-1 will most likely be used in the ending of a song. May God bless you.

    Reply

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