Chord Thoughts: The Progression

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Before starting this tutorial, please refer to the Essential Needs for this Lesson page. It will give you the links for the audio, staff notation, and tab for this lesson. It also includes a few links that will provide a number of resources regarding prerequisites for a lesson of this type.

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This pieces is nothing more than a simple Imaj7-II7-V7-Imaj7-V7 progression. In our case: Cmaj7-D7-G7-Cmaj7-G7

The transcription of this tune is in the Key of C Major.

It has a Jazz Standard feel to it with maybe a bit of New Orleans Jazz due to the D7 in the progression as opposed to a Dm7 which is in the Key of C.

If you can point out that the D7 is NOT from the Key of C that's a good thing. This a hint to us, so when we play that D7 chord we have "moved to a new Key". But when we continue on to the G7, we end up back in the Key of C again. And, we continue in the Key of C through the rest of the progression.

So essentially you could play everything in the Key of C Major except for that one chord. The D7 is actually the V7 of the Key of G Major. But, since D7 is only one chord from the key of G Major, for two measures, you could say the D is the Tonal-Center, and D7 is the harmony of the Tonality. So, we can think of the scale for the D7 chord as being D Mixolydian.

Below is the Original Progression. If you can record that progression it's a good practice/challenge to play the C Major Scale over all of it except switch in and out of the D Mixolydian during the D7 chord. Give it a try. This is one of the first steps to movement. You'll hear the scale providing movement in and out of the Keys.

Let's not be concerned about scales too much right now though. You can mess with that idea but to go any further, we NEED to look at chords and chord movement.

I'll give you a breakdown of some methodical ways you can spice up the progression...giving it more "movement".

Here's the Original Progression:

||: Cmaj7 | Cmaj7 | D7 | D7 | G7 | G7 | Cmaj7 | G7 :||

You'll see that this progression can go through a LOT of transformations and still provide the basic movement, and more, of the original progression. I'll try to provide explanations of why this is.

Remember, the transcription of this tune is in the Key of C Major. And, except for the D7 chord all of these possible chord Methods, substitutions, Alterations, etc...can stem from Chords in the Key of C.

All of these Substitution Methods are explained in detail by clicking this Details link.

Again, the Original Progression:

||: Cmaj7 | Cmaj7 | D7 | D7 | G7 | G7 | Cmaj7 | G7 :||

The Diatonic IIm-V7 Method of movement:

Option 1: ||: Cmaj7 | Cmaj7 | D7 | D7 | Dm7 | G7 | Cmaj7 | Dm7 G7 :||

Option 2: ||: Cmaj7 | Cmaj7 | Am6 | D7 | Dm7 | G7 | Cmaj7 | Dm7 G7 :||

Option 3: ||: Cmaj9 | Cmaj9 | Am6 | D9 | Dm9 | G13 | Cmaj9 | Dm9 G13 :||


Simple Diatonic Substitution for chord in the Key of C, to create movement:

Option 1: ||: Cmaj9 | Em11 | Am6 | D9 | Dm9 | G13 | Cmaj9 Em11 | Dm9 G13 :||

Option 2: ||: Cmaj9 | Am7 | Am6 | D9 | Dm9 | G13 | Cmaj9 Em11 | Dm9 G13 :||

Option 3: ||: Cmaj9 | Em11 Am7 | Am6 | D9 | Dm9 | G13 | Cmaj9 Em11 | Dm9 G13 :||

Option 4: ||: Cmaj9 | Em11 Am7 | Am6 | D9 | Fmaj7 | G13 | Cmaj9 Em11 | Fmaj7 G13 :||

Option 5: ||: Cmaj9 | Em11 | F#m7b5 | D9 | Fmaj7 | G13 | Cmaj9 Em11 | Fmaj7 G13 :||

Option 6: ||: Cmaj9 | Em11 | F#m7b5 | D9 | Dm7 | Bm7b5 | Cmaj9 | Bm7b5 :||


b5 Substitution Dominant 7 chords to create movement:

Option 1: ||: Cmaj9 | Em11 | D9 | D9 | Dm9 | G13 Db7 | Cmaj7 | G13 Db7 :||

Option 2: ||: Cmaj9 | Em11 | D9 | Ab7 | Dm9 | G13 Db7 | Cmaj7 | G13 Db7 :||

Option 3: ||: Cmaj9 | Em11 | D9 Ab7 | D9 | Dm9 | Db7 G13 | Cmaj7 | Db7 G13 :||

Option 4: ||: Cmaj9 | Em11 | Ab7 | Ab7 | Fmaj7 | Db9 | Em11 | Db7 :||

Option 5: ||: Cmaj7 | Em11 | D7 | Ab7 | Dm7 | Db7 | Cmaj7 | Db7 :||

Option 6: ||: Cmaj9 | Em11 | D9 | Ab7 | Dm7 | Db7 | Cmaj9 | Db7 :||


Diminished Substitution for Dominant 7 chords to create movement:

Option 1: ||: Cmaj7 | Cmaj7 | D9 | D9 | Dm7 | Fdim7 | Cmaj7 | Fdim7 :||

Option 2: ||: Cmaj7 | Cmaj7 | F#dim7 | F#dim7 | Fmaj7 | Fdim7 | Cmaj7 | Fdim7 :||

Option 3: ||: Cmaj7 | Cmaj7 | F#dim7 | F#dim7 | Fdim7 | Fdim7 | Cmaj7 | Fdim7 :|| 

Option 4: ||: Fdim7 | Fdim7 | F#dim7 | F#dim7 | Fdim7 | Fdim7 | Fdim7 | Fdim7 :||


The Altered Dominant (7alt) chord:

Option 1: ||: Cmaj7 | Cmaj7 | D7| D7#5b9 | G7 | G7#5b9 | Cmaj7 | G7 :||

Option 2: ||: Cmaj7 | Cmaj7 | D7| D7#5b9 | G7 | G7#5b9 | Cmaj7 | G7b5#9 :||

Option 3: ||: Cmaj7 | Cmaj7 | D7| D7alt | G7 | G7alt | Cmaj7 | G7 :||

Option 4: ||: Cmaj7 | Cmaj7 | D7| D7alt | G7 | G7alt | Cmaj7 | G7alt :||


Full Figured Movement:

Option 1: ||: Cmaj9 | Em11 | Ebdim7 | F#m7b5 | Dm6 | Db13 | Cmaj7 | Bdim7 :||

Option 2: ||: Em11 | Em11 | Ebdim7 | Ebdim7 | Dm9 | Db9 | Cmaj9 | Db9 :||


Practice:

All theory aside, start at the top of these examples and play through them one to the next. You'll "hear" how things develop on your own.

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