• How To Play A Major 2-5-1 Chord Progression Using Mutual Intervals

    in Chords & Progressions,Experienced players,General Music,Piano,Theory

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    In today’s lesson I’ll be showing you how to play the major 2-5-1 chord progression.

    The 2-5-1 chord progression remains one of the most commonly used chord progressions especially in gospel and jazz music, and this is because it is a strong root progression.

    It’s important to learn the 2-5-1 chord progression because most of the time, it’s used either to end songs or to connect two or more sections in a song; that’s why I considered it necessary to show you how it can be played using mutual intervals.

    Attention: Don’t worry if you’re not sure what mutual intervals are, just keep reading, I’ll explain.

    A Breakdown Of The Classic 2-5-1 Chord Progression

    There are eight degrees in every key (whether major or minor.) In the key of C major:

    C is the first

    D is the second

    E is the third

    F is the fourth

    G is the fifth

    A is the sixth

    B is the seventh

    C is the eighth

    The movement of chords from one degree of the scale to another produces a chord progression. For example, the C major triad:

    …(which is the first scale degree chord in the key) can progress to any other scale degree chord, like the D minor triad (which is chord 2):

    …the E minor triad (which is chord 3):

    …and so on.

    The Classic Major 2-5-1 Chord Progression – Explained

    The 2-5-1 chord progression is a chord movement in a given key from chord 2, to chord 5, then to chord 1. In the key of C major:

    …a 2-5-1 chord progression is a chord movement from chord 2 (the D minor triad):

    …to chord 5 (the G dominant seventh chord):

    …to chord 1 (the C major triad):

    “The 2-5-1 Chord Progression Using Seventh Chords…”

    The 2-5-1 chord progression can be enhanced using the following seventh chord:

    The D minor seventh chord:

    The G dominant seventh chord:

    The C major seventh chord:

    In a nutshell, the chord progression is called a major 2-5-1 chord progression because it’s played in the major key.

    Chord Breakdown Into Mutual Intervals

    Before we explore how the major 2-5-1 chord progression can be played using mutual intervals, it’s important for us to explore the concept of mutual intervals.

    In the previous segment, we played the major 2-5-1 chord progression using seventh chords.

    These seventh chords can be broken down into intervals that are complementary to each other – also known as mutual intervals.

    “A Breakdown Of The ‘D Minor Seventh Chord’ Into Mutual Intervals”

    The D minor seventh chord:

    …can be broken down into fifth intervals:

    D-A:

    …a perfect fifth interval.

    F-C:

    …another perfect fifth interval.

    A breakdown of the D minor seventh chord as mutual intervals can help in its rearrangement (aka – “voicing”.) Playing the mutual intervals in two consecutive octaves, produces a voicing of the D minor seventh chord:

    “Hold On! There’s More…”

    The mutual intervals can also be inverted. The interval D-A:

    …can be inverted and played as A-D:

    …while the interval F-C:

    …can be inverted and played as C-F:

    In a nutshell, there are two ways of playing the D minor seventh chord using mutual intervals – using fifth intervals:

    …and using fourth intervals:

    “A Breakdown Of The ‘G Dominant Seventh Chord’ Into Mutual Intervals”

    The G dominant seventh chord:

    …can also be broken down into fifth intervals:

    G-D:

    …a perfect fifth interval.

    B-F:

    …a diminished fifth interval.

    Playing these fifth intervals in two consecutive octaves produces a voicing of the G dominant seventh chord:

    “Let’s Invert The Mutual Intervals…”

    It’s possible to play the G dominant seventh chord by inverting its mutual intervals. The interval G-D:

    …can be inverted and played as D-G:

    …while the interval B-F:

    …can be inverted and played as F-B:

    Altogether, you’ve just learned two ways of playing the G dominant seventh chord – using fifth intervals:

    …and using fourth intervals:

    “A Breakdown Of The ‘C Major Seventh Chord’ Into Mutual Intervals”

    A breakdown of the C major seventh chord:

    …into fifth intervals produces two mutual intervals:

    C-G:

    …a perfect fifth interval.

    E-B:

    …another perfect fifth interval.

    Using the mutual intervals derived, we can rearrange the C major seventh chord by playing the mutual intervals in two consecutive octaves. C-G:

    …in one octave and E-B:

    …in the next octave to produce a voicing of the C major seventh chord:

    “In Addition To That…”

    The mutual intervals can also be inverted. The interval C-G:

    …can be inverted and played as G-C:

    …while the interval E-B:

    …can be inverted and played as B-E:

    In a nutshell, we just learned two creative voicings of the D minor seventh chord using fifth intervals:

    …and fourth intervals:

    Let’s go ahead and apply these voicings in a major 2-5-1 chord progression.

    The Major 2-5-1 Chord Progression Using Mutual Intervals

    In this segment, we’ll be putting the chord breakdown we did together in a major 2-5-1 chord progression.

    In the key of C major:

    …a major 2-5-1 root progression moves from D:

    …to G:

    …then to C:

    Using the voicings we derived in the previous segment, here are two major 2-5-1 chord progressions

    Excerpt #1

    Chord 2:

    …using fifth intervals.

    Chord 5:

    …using fifth intervals.

    Chord 1:

    …using fifth intervals.

    Excerpt #2

    Chord 2:

    …using fifth intervals.

    Chord 5:

    …using fifth intervals.

    Chord 1:

    …using fifth intervals.

    Final Words

    It’s no longer a secret that with just two notes in each hand (playing mutual intervals), one can play the major 2-5-1 chord progression.

    Go ahead and practice the concept learned in all twelve keys and get ready because we’ll go further in our discussion by exploring minor 2-5-1 chord progressions and cyclical chord progressions in subsequent posts.

    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 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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    { 5 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 jayagopi jagadeesan

    Jermaine, excellent article buddy on mutual intervals. Didn’t know them prior to reading this article. Thanks man for sharing with us.
    cheers,
    jay

    Reply

    2 Peter LaFosse

    Great attical

    Reply

    3 zino

    good

    Reply

    4 zino

    nice

    Reply

    5 Carolyn

    Excellent. Well explained. Thanks and God bless you all.

    Reply

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