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Finding II, V, I's and other common chord patterns in jazz

Discussion in 'Music Theory [DB]' started by Trabo, Oct 21, 2009.

  1. Hey guys, Im trying to get more of my jazz soloing game on after recently embarrasing (embarassing?) myself at a live gig. I know that finding common chord patterns such as 2,5,1's can lead you to the parent scale, but unless somebody points them out I have trouble recognizing them immediatley while soloing. how should i go about hearing this, predicting this, and practicing this? thanks for the help.
  2. mtto

    mtto Supporting Member

    May 25, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    Two suggestions. First, sign up for the standard two years of harmony at your local community college. Second, learn a lot of tunes. If you do some searching on this site you will find some good suggestions on how to learn tunes. Gary Peacock's video has some good tips on learning tunes as well, if I remember correctly.
  3. I think most common chord patterns are II V I's, I VI II V's and variations of each.
    A couple easy ways to spot them are to look for chords moving in 4ths so memorize the circle of 4ths.
    I have a learning aid for this at http://musicafterhours.com/music_lessons/key_signatures/img0.html
    It's used for memorizing key signatures but good for spotting 4ths too.
    Once you have this, there are variations on I VI II V's which usualy substitute a chord a tritone (b5th) away from the Vi, II, or V.
    straight I VI II V = C A D G
    variation 1 I bIII II V = C Eb D G
    variation 2 I VI II bV = C A D Gb
    variation 3 I bIII II bII = C Eb D Db
    note: I didn't list the chord types as there are variations there too.

    The general purpose of the variations are to move chords in 1/2 steps instead of 4ths.

    Good Luck,
  4. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Just to point out and demonstrate the obvious, the 8 bars of Scrapple from the Apple goes:

    Fmaj7/Gm7 C7/Fmaj7 Gm7/Am7 D7

    The first 2 bars is a ii-V, with no resolution to I (Fmaj7). This is repeated again in bar 3 and 4, which finally gets resolved in bar 5. Bar six, the same ii-V again, then finally in bar 8 you have a ii-V in G (Am7 D7) which is a turnaround for the first ending and goes back to bar 1.

    So any time you see a minor chord followed by a 7 (dominant) chord, you should suspect that it might be a ii-V. You will hear it simply by doing your work, practicing, and playing it alot.

    And oh yeah: GET A TEACHER
  5. Learn songs. Whole songs.
    Lots of whole songs.
    A freakin' boatload of whole songs.
    You don't have to limit yourself to jazz tunes.
    Bach to Beachboys to Britney,
    everything's pretty predictable.
    8 bars, 12 bars, V to I, etc.

    Try thinking up a couple dozen songs that all
    share rhythm changes. Play them all. In sevaral keys.
    SING the melody. Doesn't matter if your voice sounds like poo.
    But get familiar with how songs are supposed to sound.
    Singing the melody helps get the sound close to your brain.

    If you can hear it you can play it.


    You Played on Lawrence Welk?
    Yes but no blue notes. Just blue hairs.


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