Understanding Jazz Chord Progressions in Piano Phraseology.Nov 23, 2022
Now that you have a solid understanding of Jazz Chords and how they are formed it is time for Part ll where you learn how chords work together in jazz to create commonly used harmonic patterns
This is merely a basic outline to sharpen clarity covering the most common chord progression and how it is used in the context of solo piano.
Check back for Part lll where we will cover how to create and use the most common basic jazz scales.
Jazz Chord Progressions
A chord progression is simply the order in which a series of chords is played.
Every music style has its own characteristic chord progressions.
Classical music commonly uses 1, 4, 5, 1 progressions.
Pop music often uses repeated pop chord patterns such as 1, 5, 6, 4
The most common chord progression in jazz is the 2, 5, 1.
There are two types of 2 5 1 progressions
2 5 1 patterns from the major scale and 2 5 1 patterns from the minor scale.
2 5 1, in major is more common.
Here's an example
If you stack upward from the 2 of the C Major scale you would start with D on the bottom.
Going upward from the root D in 3rds you add F, A and C to form a D minor 7 chord.
Notice that it is a minor triad with a minor 7 on top.
Again in the key of C major D minor 7 is the 2 chord because it is diatonic to meaning belonging to the C major scale.
Next if you stack upward from the 5 of the C major scale you would start with G on the bottom.
Going upward from the root G in 3rds you add B, D and F to form a G 7 chord as known as the 5 7 Dominant
Notice that it is a major triad with a minor 7 on top.
Finally if you stack upward from the 1 or tonic of the C major scale you would start with C on the bottom.
Going upward from the root C in 3rds you add E, G and B to form a C major 7 chord.
Notice that it is a major triad with a major 7 on top.
A very distinctive part of this 2 5 1 pattern or progression is the baseline movement of 2 going up a 4th interval to the 5 which goes down a 5th interval to the 1.
This is by far the most common chord progression found in jazz real books.
The full chord progression as seen in real books would look something like this.
Dm7 - G7 - CMaj7
Often in jazz you will only get a partial of this progression such as G7 - CMaj7 without the Dm7.
Other times you only get Dm7 - G7 without the C Maj7.
Finally, let's talk about the minor 251.
Although less common most jazz pianists tend to be drawn to the minor keys.
The idea is the same. There are still three chords built from the two, the five, and the one except they are buildt from the harmonic minor scale.
The Harmonic minor scale is basically the same as the Natural minor scale except with a major 7th interval replacing the minor 7th interval.
The three chords formed from the notes of the harmonic minor scale are as follows
The 2 chord which is stacked in 3rds gives us the root, minor 3rd, diminished 5th and minor 7th intervals. T
his goes by two commonly used names which are minor 7 ♭ 5 viewing it as a minor 7 chord with lowered 5th or half diminished viewing it as a diminished triad with a minor 7th. Both are same.
In the key of key of C min the 2 chord would be built from the 2nd degree stacking 3rds upward from D. This gives us the notes DFA ♭ and C. We call this the Dminor7 ♭ 5 or D half dimished.
In the key of key of C min the five chord would be built from the 5th degree stacking 3rds upward from G. This gives us the notes GBD and F which is the same dominant seven chord from the major 251.
In the key of key of C min the one chord would be built from the root stacking 3rds upward from C. This gives us the notes C ,E ♭, G and B
Type of 7th chord is called C minor major seven which is recognizable as the James Bond chord.
Often the 7th is tweaked replacing it with either a minor 7 or major 6 interval. These are derived from scales Dorian and Melodic minor which we will cover later.