Jazz Chord Progressions - Ii V I Guitar Licks

Jazz Chord Progressions – ii v i Guitar Licks

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Jazz Chord Progressions - Learn The ii v i

Jazz chord progressions can be very complex, but many of the chord progressions used in popular jazz standards are built around the ii v i progression.

Understanding how to control the tension and release in music is how to create interest in your guitar solos. The ii v i does this for you by creating tension on the v7 chord and releasing it on the i chord. Learning to control this will allow you to engage your listeners and play melodically.

The v7 dominant chord in the ii v i progression can be substituted for an altered dominant 7th chord. There are so many possibilities when it comes to playing over an altered dominant 7th chord. Some of the options are as follows:

  • Diminished Scale.

  • Whole Tone scale.

  • Melodic minor scale played up one-half step (this has many names).

  • Flat five substitution.

Two of the examples below take advantage of the diminished scale. The third example uses a major scale over the altered dominant 7th chord. This approach is rarely mentioned, but it can produce great results. The beauty of this approach is that you are already using the major scale and I'm sure you have many major scale ideas already under your fingers.

Only For Jazz Chord Progressions?

When talking about ii v i chord progressions, it is usually associated with a jazz guitar style. The ii v i chord progression (or just the ii and v chords on their own) can be found in all styles of music.

You cannot necessarily play all the crazy outside sounds (sounding wrong to many many guitarists when they attempt using the sounds) over the dominant 7th chord in a pop tune for example, but tension to a certain level can always be included. This is the essence of the functioning dominant 7th chord.

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ii v i Guitar Lick Using Diminished Scale

This is a nice little ii v i guitar lick that uses the diminished scale over the v7 chord and then resolves to the i chord.

Short little licks such as this example should be played on various sets of strings to get to grips with the sounds and feel of the lick so it can be used in any position.

The great thing about any diminished scale idea is that it can be moved up or down the guitar fretboard in three-fret jumps. This can easily extend a smaller idea into a longer melodic line. Adding slight variations to the diminished scale idea can create a great deal of interest.

Diminished Scale Over ii v i

This guitar lick is similar to the previous example in that it uses the diminished scale over the dominant 7th chord once again.

This idea shifts position slightly and once you understand the pattern, you can create a much longer ascending diminished scale sequence.

Be sure to practise all these licks over various jazz standards. Knowing the licks is of no use if you cannot incorporate them into your guitar playing.

Major Scale Over Altered Chords

And here we have a major scale arpeggio-type lick played over an altered dominant 7th chord.

I first read about using the major scale over altered chords in a Les Wise guitar book when I was a boy. As all the other books never mentioned this approach and tended to focus on diminished scales, modes of the melodic minor scale, whole tone scale, etc., I over-looked the major scale for a long time.

I stumbled across the book many years later and found the major scale to be a powerful tool when playing over altered dominant 7th chords.

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