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Tom Quayle - The II-V-I Chord Progression Part 2

Lesson Notes

** As featured in issue 13 **

In the previous guitar lesson I introduced to you the concept of the 'II-V-I' progression in both major and minor keys. If you haven't checked that column out then I recommend that you do so before proceeding, as it contains required knowledge for this tutorial!

Let me outline the basics of the II-V-I progression once more in the keys of C major and C minor: -

Dm7 - G7 - Cmaj7 (key of C major)

Dm7b5 - G7alt - Cm7 (key of C minor)

In this issue I want to expand this further for you by introducing a concept known as secondary or non-diatonic II-V-I progressions. For the sake of simplicity we'll stick to the key of C major for now. Obviously, when we think of the II-V-I progression in this key we are using the II chord, Dm7, the V chord, G7 and the I chord, Cmaj7. However, we can expand upon this and introduce extra II-V-I progressions that are non-diatonic and lead to the other major and minor 7 chords in the key. Let's take chord II for example, Dm7. In Jazz and Fusion harmony and even a large chunk of Pop music, this Dm7 can be temporarily treated as a I chord in its own II-V-I progression. In other words we temporarily create a resolution to a Dm7 chord so that it acts as a I chord. To do this we need to imagine that we're in the key of Dm and wanted to play a II-V-I progression in this minor key. What would the chords be?

The progression must contain some kind of m7b5 for the II, followed by an altered dominant 7 chord as the V, leading to the Dm7 as the I chord. The II chord's root note is always located two frets higher than the I chord, giving us the root note E, so Em7b5. The V chord is located a 5th below or a 4th above (these are effectively the same thing) the II chord, giving us the root note A and thus, an A7alt chord. Remember, the altered part refers to the chord having a b5, #5, b9, #9 or any combination of the above. In the video I use an A7#5 voicing. Here's the complete progression: -

Em7b5 - A7#5 - Dm7

Notice that neither the Em7b5 or A7#5 are diatonic to the key of C major, but the progression works because of its very strong root motion and resolving nature. The temporary I chord that we are leading to is always diatonic to the original key but the II and V chord needn't be.

This process can be repeated for all the Minor 7 and Major 7 chords in the key giving us secondary II-V-I progressions leading to the II, III, IV and VI chords as well as the original I chord too of course. Remember that if the chord you are resolving to (your temporary I chord) is a major 7 chord then you need to play a Major II-V-I progression and if the chord is a minor 7 you would use a Minor II-V-I progression.

Here are all of the available II-V-I progression in the key of C major including the original II-V-I leading to Cmaj7: a

Dm7 - G7 - Cmaj7 (original, diatonic II-V-I)

Em7b5 - A7#5 - Dm7 (leading to chord II)

F#m7b5 - B7#5 - Em7 (leading to chord III)

Gm7 - C7 - Fmaj7 (leading to chord IV)

Bm7b5 - E7#5 - Am7 (leading to chord VI)

In the accompanying TAB/Notation for this tutorial you'll find an example chord progression from a well known standard that is made up of two secondary II-V-I progression in the key of C.

The final thing to say is that you can utilise the voicings we've looked at in previous issues, using 9th, 11th and 13th chords within these progressions to enhance the sound to your liking. Use your ears as a guide for now and we'll expand on some of these ideas in future issues.

Good luck until next time!


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