The ii v i Progression - Jazz And Beyond
If you are a jazz guitarist, you will have been confronted with the ii v i chord progression. The ii v i progression makes up a massive percentage of jazz chord progressions and there are countless books, articles, videos, etc., dedicated to the humble ii v i progression.
The ii v i chord progression is not limited to jazz as you will find it in all styles of music. You must master the ii v i as it will crop up time and time again.
What Is A ii v i Progression?
The ii v i refers to the chords built from the 2nd, 5th and 1st notes of the major scale. From a C major scale, for example, the ii v i would be as follows:
ii = Dm7
v = G7
i = Cmaj7
|| Dm7 | G7 | Cmaj7 | Cmaj7 ||
All three chords are constructed of notes contained within the C major scale so you can use a C major scale to improvise over the ii v i progression. This is not, however, ideal as the ii v i is a journey.
The ii chord is the beginning of the journey, the v chord is the chord on which you can create a great deal of tension using various different melodic devices, and the i chord requires resolution as you have arrived home.
ii v i Guitar Lick in Ab no.1
This ii v i lick starts with a standard jazz, bebop type phrase before creating tension in bar 2 and arriving home in bar 3.
As with all of these guitar licks, you should practise them in many different keys. These licks are also played with a swing feel
Various scale and arpeggio ideas have been used in this lick and it is quite a nice blend of different melodic ideas.
ii v i Guitar Lick in Ab no.2
This lick requires good alternate picking skills and you might find it difficult to play as it jumps around the fretboard.
Can you spot the 7-note group that makes up the main idea throughout this lick? Odd note groupings were covered in a previous post, so you might want to check out my Odd Note Groupings post for extra melodic possibilities.
All three licks in this post are in the same key, so experiment with mixing ideas from each lick to create your own variations.
ii v i Guitar Lick in Ab no.3
This lick creates tension before reaching the dominant 7th chord in bar 2. Playing ideas early, before the new bar has arrived can sound great, although you need to play with conviction and see the idea through, otherwise, it can sound wrong.
If you are looking for songs on which you can use these ideas, try Donna Lee by Charlie Parker. This tune features a challenging melody, which will give you more ii v i ideas which you can add to your repertoire.
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