• Opening and closing your songs with “2-5-1” progressions!

    in Chords & Progressions

    If you listen to music, you’ve definitely heard a “2-5-1” progression. They are found in just about any type of music — regardless of style, genre, or rhythmical pattern. It is commonly the series of chords that end a song. However, it can be used in several situations (I can only go over a few in this lesson but encourage you to visit: https://www.hearandplay.com/course.html for further instruction).

    In this chord progression, the 2 chord (you’ll learn what this is later on in this lesson) leads to the 5 chord which in turns, produces a strong pull towards the ending chord (which is usually the 1st major chord of the scale).

    First, let me start by showing you what chords correspond to each tone of a major scale:

    1 tone – Major
    2 tone – Minor
    3 tone – Minor
    4 tone – Major
    5 tone – Major (dominant when a 7th chord)
    6 tone – Minor
    7 tone – Diminished (half-diminished when a 7th chord)

    To understand the chart above, you must understand that each tone of a major scale has a chord which goes along with it. For example, the following is a C major scale:

    [C — D — E — F — G — A — B — C]

    Each tone above has a matching chord. Simply add the endings of the chart above to the scale as shown below:

    [C MAJOR]
    [D MINOR]
    [E MINOR]
    [F MAJOR]
    [G MAJOR / DOM]
    [A MINOR]

    To further understand progressions, lets number each chord:

    1 = C major
    2 = D minor
    3 = E minor
    4 = F major
    5 = G dominant
    6 = A minor
    7 = B half – diminished
    8 = C major

    “2-5-1” Chord Progressions

    Now, to create a “2-5-1” chord progression (or any numbered chord progression), simply take the 2, 5, and 1 chord out of the entire series of chords above. That is, we would not use the 3,4, 6, or 7 chord.

    The 2 chord is D minor; the 5 chord is G dominant; and the 1 chord is C major.

    This right here is the most basic “2-5-1” chord progression you’ll ever see:

    Dmin — Gdom — Cmaj

    min = minor
    dom = dominant
    maj = major


    D minor chord = [D] + [F] + [A]
    G dominant chord = [G] + [B] + [D] + [F]
    C major chord = [C] + [E] + [G]

    Example: To play a Dmin chord simply play all three of the notes shown above at the same time (D+F+A)

    Moving on…

    Now that we have covered some theory (I’m glad that’s out of the way), let me just show you a few chords that I love to play. I will try not to be as theoretic … I will simply give you the chord changes and you’ll have to apply them to your understanding of chords and alterations. All of these progression will be shown in the key of C major:

    1) “Churchy 2-5-1 Chord Progression” Style #1

    D7 (b9) — G13 —- Cmaj (pronounced “D seven, flat nine —– G thirteenth — C major”)

    D7 (b9) = Bass * Play “D” ——— F# + A + C + D#
    G13 = Bass * Play “G” ———- F + A + C + E
    Cmaj = Bass * Play “C” ———– E + G + C (1st inversion)

    Example: For D7 (b9), we would play F# + A + C + D# with “D” on the bass (left hand).

    Inversion just refers to the way the chord is played. Since “C” is the highest note, it is said to be played in its “first inversion”

    Note: I love playing this chord progression in gospel music. You try playing it and let me know what you come up with!

    2) “Churchy 2-5-1 Chord Progression” Style #2

    For this progression, every chord will be the same except for the D7 (b9). We will simply play a regular D9 chord.

    D9 = F# + A + C + “E” (not D#)

    Notice: The only difference in a D9 and a D7 (b9) is the difference in the “ninth” tone. Since we are not flatting the 9th tone, we use “E” instead of “D#.”

    D9 = Bass * Play “D” ——— F# + A + C + E
    G13 = Bass * Play “G” ———- F + A + C + E
    Cmaj = Bass * Play “C” ———– E + G + C

    3). “Contemporary 2-5-1 Chord Progression” Style #1

    For this progression, we are going to use:

    D9 add 6 —> G13 —> Cmaj

    D9 add 6 = Bass * Play “D” ——— F# + B + C + E
    G13 = Bass * Play “G” ———- F + A + C + E
    Cmaj = Bass * Play “C” ———– E + G + C

    4.) “Contemporary 2-5-1 Chord Progression” Style #2

    This progression will follow the same exact pattern as #3 with the following chord alteration:

    D9 b5 —> G13 —-> Cmaj

    *** You are going to have to extend your fingers for this one!

    D9 b5 = Bass * Play “D” ——— F# + B + C + E + A#
    G13 = Bass * Play “G” ———- F + A + C + E
    Cmaj = Bass * Play “C” ———– E + G + C

    This concludes today’s online classroom lesson.

    The following two tabs change content below.
    Hi, I'm Jermaine Griggs, founder of this site. We teach people how to express themselves through the language of music. Just as you talk and listen freely, music can be enjoyed and played in the same way... if you know the rules of the "language!" I started this site at 17 years old in August 2000 and more than a decade later, we've helped literally millions of musicians along the way. Enjoy!

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


    { 30 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 britt johnson

    How do you know what key to hit with your left that go with your right hand ?? Like if I am playing in the key of c or f what key will I hit with my left finger or hand????


    2 pete

    britt, the left hand is whatever root note of the 2-5-1. If 2-5-1 in C is:

    D to G to C… then you will play that on your left hand one after the other and you’ll play the chords on your right.

    D min = D on left and D F A on right

    G maj = G on left and G B D on right

    C major = C on left and C E G on right.

    the root note goes on the left.


    3 Musallio

    Lovely variations here, thanks.

    To answer Britt, the Left Hand part is the easy or the “given” because if it says a “2”, then you paly whichever note that is the 2nd tonality in the key you are playing in.
    So it’s important that you look at the numbers (from 1 to 7) that math with the major scales.
    since the key of C major is like this:
    C=1 ; D=2; E=3; F=4; G=5; A=6; B=7

    it follows that for the “2” you will play a “D” in your left hand, a “G” for the “5” and a “C” for the 1.

    The tricky part will be the left hand where you have a variety of chords to play..but to start off for the RH, use Pete’s response to your question.


    4 Emmanuel Louis

    How come G13 is spelled: F+A+C+E where there is not any G note in the key, which is exactely the same notes used for F major7.?

    Thanks for answering



    5 @KC1TY

    The G is in the bass hand


    6 Carla

    Hi Emanuel,
    G 7 is a dominant chord, we like to add tension and colors to the original G …and also numbers extend up to 9,11,13…. That why yor new G ” is wearing ” this colors, try to spell the notes as extensions of G.
    It,s full of beauty!
    Thanks J !


    7 Eremi samuel

    G is play on the left hand as the bass which is G-f-a-c-e (G13 cord or Gdom)


    8 Daniel

    G is played in the left in addition to the F maj7 in the right making it G13


    9 MS

    Hi, Jermaine! After a very long absence, I just saw this very enlightening post. Could you please explain the D9(b5) chord in the “Contemporary 2-5-1” Style #2? I have some difficulty with it.
    Hope all is well with your entire family, and the staff. Thanks for your reply.


    10 MS

    Jermaine, it is October, and I still have a problem re my post of 3 July 2009 above. I have almost given up on that one. Take care, and God bless you and yours.


    11 Ishaq Rashid

    Hello Jermain;
    This is my first time reading this post,even though it was posted in 2008
    it is a well put toghter lesson. I just got my computer about two weeks
    ago and Iam studing the lesson that you have taught.Ilike this lesson
    opening and closing your song with 2-5-1 progression,it was well put toghter.

    keep up the good work you are doing a good job.



    12 Sunny

    Hello, Jermaine, i must say you are GOD sent to musicians of this generation. Keep up the good. Sunday


    13 Sunny

    Hello, Jermaine, i must say you are GOD sent to musicians of this generation. Keep up the good work. Sunday


    14 graham

    hi just tryed your church 251 chord progressons
    there is some good chords i allways wanted to play dannyboy
    with extended chord progressons can u send me that throu email
    if possable i would be greatful graham


    15 lewis

    i really need alot of help for my progressions and how to find key. Even to master notes. I play on c sharp. The site is not friendly. I will be greatful if u can email me about all this i complain of. Thanks.


    16 annis

    In play on d simple major chords cmajor is do y fmajor is fa y gmajor is ur sor bt in ds ur lesson it hard 2 knw wich is wich cus am new 2 d sound so am stil avin problem folowin dm cus i dnt knw d 1 dat is do fa r so


    17 Bongani

    Hey this is great stuff i thank God for you..can you please Email me some more chord progressions.. Im playing piano at church so i need some more of this great stuff.. If possible Email:john.bongani@yahoo.com
    God bless you


    18 chinedu

    Tanx 4 all ur helpfull tips but am having problem findinG the key of a singers voice and also want to spice up my playing a bit cause its too rigid. I wud be most gr8ful if yu can assist me by sending info to my email add…God bless yu


    19 ifeanyi

    how come in your G13 chord you left out the B and D notes , cos I thought G13 should contain seven notes, am kind of confused. pls help.


    20 IFLY4

    I adored your intriguing blog. topnotch contribution. I hope you produce many. I will continue reading


    21 sell my iphone

    I like your helpful words. super contribution. I hope you produce more. I will continue watching


    22 GERARD

    super; je commence a voir la lumière avec la traduction francaise;merci Jermain


    23 Spirale

    Dear Jermaine,
    thanks a lot for your informative teaching. chords sounding beautiful! Shouldn´t the last one D9(b5) have an Ab instead of an A#?
    All the best


    24 christo Moleko

    Bra am a beginner can u start me from scratch pls,am into gospel music.am originally from south Africa


    25 peter

    I just bumped on this site about 2weeks ago, Am a nigerian, though am an organist in a catholic church but I also love playing something outside the catholic hymns and classical. I’ve been practicing your teaching and I must confess, Jermaine you are God sent to the world of music. I love what I hear myself play.


    26 yaw

    hello pls am a beginner bt want to know hw to know chords progression when a music is been play …the musical sound is my problem


    27 ininfon

    thank you mr jermaine for your good works i have a problem still after watching gk 202 i learnt all the chords on every tone of Db and progressions in the course and even the songs that you used.. bt apart from this songs in the video how do i apply this chords and progressions to any other song especially during worship session the singer will be changing songs and as a pianist i have to be accompanying with the right chords help pls sorry for the long text….


    28 proofreader application

    great feature! it is convenient for me to use it in my work. I think I need to try


    29 Amos chipwatanga

    Greatful with the lesson above and i have been trying to followup your lesson… I feel blessed..
    Am a beginner to this chord progression plis want more light
    Thank you


    30 CarlosWalker



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