5-2-1 or 1-4-5 progression?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Doc Blue, Jun 26, 2019.

  1. Doc Blue

    Doc Blue

    Mar 29, 2019
    St Augustine
    At first glance these progressions seem to have a lot of similarities, i.e. a I-IV-V in C uses C, F and G as major chord roots. A V-ii-I in F uses C, G and F as major chord roots, except for the minor G chord. As a new bass player that doesn't stray too far from root, 3rd, 5th, and 7th, the notes I choose to play over these progressions are mostly the same.

    Besides the minor ii, and the order of the chords, what other significant differences are there? The feel of the songs is certainly different, and how tension builds and is resolved is probably not the same, but I haven't studied enough theory to say how or why, and I'm not skilled enough to develop a good walking bass line to fit the progressions or be able to choose the better chord transition notes.

    Are these progressions vastly different even though they use mostly the same basic notes? Discussion welcome.
  2. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol

    The first progression is all major. It gives it a strength of itself and changes that will easily back even a slightly weak melody. An obvious canvas to any form of expression, it works well for experimentation too because the audience will know where to stand.
    You generally find the second progression under its ii-V-I form, which emphasizes the minor aspect of it. It naturally calls for the dorian mode, which can leads to delicate melodies and deep grooves.
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  3. Doc Blue

    Doc Blue

    Mar 29, 2019
    St Augustine
    OK, ii-V-I. How does this emphasize the minor other than the first chord?
  4. Mushroo

    Mushroo Guest

    Apr 2, 2007
    The progressions are in different keys.

    F, G, C is IV-V-I in the key of C Major (no sharps, no flats, CDEFGABC).
    Gmin, C, F is ii-V-I in the key of F Major (1 flat, FGABbCDEF).

    But you could substitute Dmin for F in the first progression, and play Dmin, G, C or ii-V-I in C Major.
    Or you could substitute Bb for Gmin in the second progression, and play Bb, C, F or IV-V-I in F Major.

    In other words, the minor ii chord and major IV chord have similar sounds, and songwriters often use them in similar situations. ii-V-I and IV-V-I are (to a certain extent) interchangeable.

    Apologies if I have misunderstood your question.
  5. Malcolm35

    Malcolm35 Supporting Member

    OP's question deals with the I-IV-V and the V-ii-I. My short answer would be that I do not see that many V-ii-I progressions. However I do see a lot of ii-V-I.
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2019
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  6. Doc Blue

    Doc Blue

    Mar 29, 2019
    St Augustine
    Same basic question applies to the ii-V-I, that is both progressions use mostly the same notes, but how are they different and how does that difference influence which notes to play over the progressions?

    I think @Mushroo is getting at some of the differences - chord substitution. I understand the different keys, but don't know how to substitute chords. Thought there would be more differences between the two progressions.
  7. Doc Blue

    Doc Blue

    Mar 29, 2019
    St Augustine
    So if I get this right, the ii chord is sort of the relative minor of the IV chord?
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  8. MtManiac

    MtManiac Supporting Member

    Mar 6, 2007
    Remember that the melody and chords played by accompaniment instruments add more harmonic complexity to the arrangement, and all together determine what the chords are, not just the notes the bass player plays. So that V adds a totall different kind of tension than it would as a ii in another key.
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  9. Mushroo

    Mushroo Guest

    Apr 2, 2007
    The vocabulary word is "predominant." Of course the V chord is the "dominant" chord. Since either the ii chord or the IV chord sound good before ("pre") the V chord ("dominant") we can say that both the ii chord and the IV chord have a "predominant function." IV-V-I and ii-V-I have similar sounds.

    Let's compare. I'll use the key of C for clarity:

    Dmin = D, F, A
    F = F, A, C

    So you see, they share 2 out of 3 notes.

    If you include the 7th of the ii chord, then the similarity is even more obvious:

    Dmin7 = D, F, A, C
    F = F, A, C

    So you see, Dmin7 could be thought of as Fmaj with an added D note in the bass.

    Fun exercise: Jam along with the oldies station, and you'll hear a lot of I-vi-IV-V type of progressions. Try changing the bass note to give it a I-vi-ii-V sound instead. For example if the progression is C-Amin-F-G, try playing a D bass note under the F chord to convert it into a Dmin7 sound.

    Or, do the opposite with I-vi-ii-V songs, and change the bass note to give it a I-vi-IV-V sound, by playing F under the Dmin chord. :)
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2019
  10. Doc Blue

    Doc Blue

    Mar 29, 2019
    St Augustine
    Thanks, your examples make this really helpful :thumbsup:. Didn't know the predominant term, but did recognize the relative minor of F major is D minor.
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  11. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    The beauty of being a bass player is that you have some leeway in situations like this, and you should use them to the music's advantage when appropriate. You have a handle on the notes in each chord, so use that to your advantage, but remember that you don't have to use every note of every chord in your lines. Sometimes you'll want to accent the maj or min, or even the 7th and 9th, but it's not mandatory :D It takes some experimentation, and you'll play a lot of bad things as you go, but as long as it sounds like music, it's all good.

    And by all means, buy Ed Friedland's Building Walking Bass Lines book!

    Yep, me too. Have seen V-ii-I on occasion, though. For a walking bassline over that I might do | V - II - IV - III | II - VI - II - bII | I etc. That's just off the top of my head, or I might do something else the next time. Experimenting and developing your skills and vocab are key. And listening to what other bass players do in similar situations is a good thing. 10,000 hours, as they say.
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  12. SteveC


    Nov 12, 2004
    NE ND
    Great advice.
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  13. Malcolm35

    Malcolm35 Supporting Member

    This always helped me..... Once you have played the I chord the rest of what you do is getting back to the I chord to resolve the tension and stat another progression. The I-V-I is the fastest way of accomplishing this.

    The I can go anywhere in the chord progression as long as you are in the same key. You do loose all the tension you have built up if you go to the I. Are you ready to resolve back to the root?

    The ii is a predominant chord and wants to go to a dominant chord.

    The iii is the middle chord and as such likes to begin a movement as in iii-ii-V-I.

    The IV is also a predominant chord like the ii and it wants to go to a dominant chord. As the ii and IV want the same thing they can sub for each other. The ole I-IV-V seems to work best with basic chord progressions and the ii-V-I is used in jazz or the more complicated progressions.

    The V wants to resolve to the I chord. If it is the V7 it wants to get this done right now.

    The vi is a great minor chord if you want some flavor or color in your progression. The iii likes to drag the vi with it. They are used quite a lot together.

    The vii is also a dominant chord and wants to resolve, however, is in no hurry so it finds itself in movement and turn-a-round situations, i.e. vii-iii-vi-ii-V-I.

    Have fun.
  14. Doc Blue

    Doc Blue

    Mar 29, 2019
    St Augustine
    I have a couple of Ed's books. Must be time for another :cool:.

    10,000 hours!?! I've heard that. Should have started back in the 60's instead of now :eyebrow:.

    Thanks Malcom. I've seen this in another thread. Having read this, the ii-V-I follows the "rules" better than the V-ii-I.
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  15. JoeWPgh


    Dec 21, 2012
    The 2-5-1 is a common building block that goes back decades, as is the 1-4-5. Another common one is the 1-6-2-5, with it common to substitute a 4 for the 6. The 1-6-2-5 is what jazz guys call "rhythm changes" as the progression comes from "I Got Rhythm". Rhythm and Blues got that title because most of it's early songs were either 1-6-2-5 (rhythm) or 1-4-5 (blues)
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  16. EarnestTBass


    Feb 3, 2015
    **I-IV-V in C uses C, F and G as major chord roots. A V-ii-I in F uses C, G and F as major chord roots, except for the minor G chord**

    I IV V in C major is: C Ionian F Lydian G Mixolydian

    V ii I in F major is: C Mixolydian G Dorian F Ionian

    These modes use all of the same notes except: The choice of using B flat or B natural would distinguish between the two key signatures and define the tonal center. If you avoid all use of both B and Bb, the change in key signature will be difficult (impossible?) to hear.
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  17. nnnnnn


    Oct 27, 2018
    The tension resolution is definitely not the same. The I IV V progression doesn't resolve within itself: normally it would be followed by the I again to resolve, or be followed by some other chords that in turn resolve to the I.

    The V ii I progression already has the resolution to the I chord built in.
  18. Doc Blue

    Doc Blue

    Mar 29, 2019
    St Augustine
    That's what I'm getting at. The tools in my bag of tricks, less the B and Bb, are basically the same for these two progressions. That seems too easy, so the question is what else makes them different, and how does the difference affect one's approach to a bass line?
  19. Doc Blue

    Doc Blue

    Mar 29, 2019
    St Augustine
    (Don't know how to multiple quote on an iPad). I should probably have been more specific by describing a complete progression in the I-IV-V description. Yes I'm thinking immediate resolution from V back to I, whereas a V-ii-I has a minor chord that slows down the resolution. How does this change the feel/mood of a song? I realize this is very subjective, but think it may have a bearing on choosing notes and rhythm. @Jazz Ad was getting to this.
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2019
  20. Malcolm35

    Malcolm35 Supporting Member

    Each progression has it's own feel. Only thing I could add is to set up an eight bar progression of both and then play both. It's in the listening you hear the difference. Then YOU identify the difference so if you need a I-IV-V or a V-ii-I you can play the one you want. It's in the difference YOU hear.

    Writing about it or talking about it is not going to identify what you are hearing.