Quick question on "walking" and II V I

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by fearceol, May 22, 2012.

  1. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    Hi guys,

    I'm a bit puzzled. Maybe I'm missing something here. I'm practicing my walking bass lines. In my walking bass book I have being playing along to "Autumn Leaves" in the key of Bb. No problem here as the chords are Cm, F7, and Bb i.e. II V I.

    However, when I go to You Tube and select some play alongs, the II V I does not corrospond with the key.

    For example, one is in Gm and it starts with C. Likewise another in Em it starts in A.

    Should Gm not with A, and Em with F# ? :confused:

    I know I am going to feel silly, when I hear the answer, but it has me puzzled at present. :bag:
  2. 2cooltoolz

    2cooltoolz Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2009
    Lake Conroe, TX
    G minor is the relative minor to Bb major. C is the II to Bb major. I think the chord tones should be ii (minor) though.

    Likewise, E minor is the relative minor to G major. Am would be the ii chord.

    I think.
  3. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    Thanks for your reply. I am still puzzled though. Firstly the 2-5-1 is written in capitals in the book ("Walking Jazz Lines for Bass" by Jay Hungerford).

    I thought that 2-5-1 meant the 2nd 5th and root chords of a given key ?

    Does this not apply to minor keys ?
  4. The correct way of doing this is chords are written in Roman numbers. Most then signify major chords in upper case and minor chords in lower case. ii-V-I.

    Notes are written in Arabic numbers, i.e. 2-5-1.

    So normally 2-5-1 would be the 2nd, 5th and 1st notes in a scale.

    Then Nashville Numbers, most of the time, just use Arabic numbers and would list the chords as 2-5-1. And then some do not use lower case to signify minor, but, use IIb. So it is confusing right at first knowing what you are reading.

    I think your immediate problem is the songs in the book do not always follow (start with) a ii-V-I chord progression. Some are starting with the or IV or vi chord. That is not uncommon. I bet the song then gets around to relying upon a repetitive ii-V-I cadence once you get into the meat of the song. My Autumn Leaves does start with a ii-V7-I in the first 4 bars of the song, but, then does not repeat this ii-V7-I until the 17th bar. So, ii-V-I songs will use other chords beside just the ii-V-I. A common chord after the ii-V-I is the IV and then from there to a viidim (m7b5) - my point - you are not limited to just ii-V-I.

    Hope that helped answer your question.
  5. mbeall


    Jun 25, 2003
    Depending on the song the tonal center may change more than once although it will usually not be reflected in the key signature on the lead sheet. The ii/V/I's will be a very clear indicator when this happens. In the case of Autumn Leaves however the changes stay in the key the whole song which the version you are working on is in G minor.

    If you have not memorized the 7 (pun intended) chord qualities for Major and Minor keys now would be the time to do so since you are working on the perfect song for it.

    Here's the Major first:

    I M7
    II m7
    III m7
    IV M7
    V 7
    VI m7
    VII m7b5

    And the Minor:

    I m7
    II m7b5
    III M7
    IV m7
    V m7 ( although the 3rd of the Vchord is a naturally occurring minor in the minor key it is normally sharped to make a V7 to lead to the Im7)
    VI M7
    VII 7

    So.... looking at Autumn Leaves (A sec) by the numbers:

    | IVm7 | VII7 | IIIM7 | VIM7 | IIm7b5 | V7(b9) | Im(6) |

    In short, backcycle in 4ths through the minor key starting on the IVm7.

    Hope this helps.

  6. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    Thanks guys. I did think that it was odd that the book had the II in capitals rather than ii.

    My problem is with the notes themselves, not with the Maj or minor.

    I am assuming 2-5-1 means the 2nd 5th and root of the scale of the key we are in.

    So, in the case of say Gm, regardless of Maj or minor, the second note of the Gm scale is an A.

    On You Tube, in the key of Gm, the song starts with a C.

    Hope I'm explaining myself OK.

    Here is the You Tube clip :

  7. mbeall


    Jun 25, 2003
    Exactly. Autumn leaves starts on the 4 chord, C, if it is in the key of G minor. The A is the 2.

    | IVm7 | VII7 | IIIM7 | VIM7 | IIm7b5 | V7(b9) | Im(6) |

    or with letter names.

    | Cm7 | F7 | BbM7 | EbM7 | Am7b5 | D7(b9) | Gm(6) |

    The Cm7|F7|BbM7 is a relative iiVI but with respect to the key of the song its a | IVm7 | VII7 | IIIM7 |
  8. kreider204


    Nov 29, 2008
    Yup, it's in Gm, not Bb.

    Great, great tune, BTW.
  9. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    This is the assumption that's confusing your thought process:

    ii-V-I progression resolves to the I of that ii-V-I progression, which is not necessarily the root of the scale of the key you are in.

    Most jazz tunes will cycle through different ii-V-I's temporarily moving the key center, which is called "modulation" if you want to get technical.

    "Autumn Leaves" is a good tune to learn, but it is not an adventurous tune in terms of modulating through different keys, compared with more complex jazz standards. If you are looking for a song that clearly demonstrates the ii-V-I principle, then I highly recommend learning "Tune Up" by Miles Davis, which is a textbook example of modulating through 3 different keys using ii-V's.
  10. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    Thanks for that. I assumed that a ii V I always had to start on the ii.

    I know that Malcolm did mention earlier that you are not necessarily confined to ii V I. It just did not register with me.

    Again, thanks mbeall, and to all who posted.

    The light bulb is on !! ;)
  11. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    Thanks. I'll try that next. :)
  12. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    C-7 | F7 | BbMaj7

    A-7b5 | D7 | G-

    You may want to look at this as a ii V in the key of Bb major and a minor ii V in the key of G minor essentially the only changes in the tune, Jazz tunes can change keys in the middle of the song.
  13. DONZI97


    Dec 24, 2008
    Algonac Michigan
    These guys are all correct, and I'm by no means a jazz expert. The way I look at ( and how my instructor taught me, he's very fluent in jazz theory) even though the song is in Gm, the Cm, F7 BbMaj7 is just a ii-V-I of Bb, which is the relative major of Gm, that's how I approach it, then a VI-ii-V-i to the Gm.
  14. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    This is correct, BUT, there's "The Two" (as in the permanent ii chord of the key, for example Amin7b5 in the key of Gmin) vs. "the two" (as in the temporary ii of that particular ii-V progression).

    As you get into more intermediate tunes you'll start to see things like:

    Abmin7 / Db7 / Gmin7 / C7 / FMaj

    In this case the composer cycles through two different ii-V's before finally resolving on the I chord. This sound will become very familiar to you as you study jazz.

    Also keep in mind that intellectual understanding of the theory is only half the battle--in fact there are many, many successful jazz musicians who did not attend music conservatory and just play without knowing the roman numerals--you must also listen, learn to recognize the sound, and internalize it so you can improvise convincingly in the style. :)
  15. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    Thanks. As you guys have no doubt guessed, I am still in the early stages of learning walking bass.. I still have a bit to go yet, though a little less now, thanks to the responses to my thread. ;)
  16. Jeremy Allen

    Jeremy Allen Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2002
    Bloomington, IN
    Just to be clear, from a functional standpoint, it DOES. If you think of Autumn Leaves as being in its relative major key (in this case, Bb Major), then it starts on a ii7 chord; if you think of it as being in its minor key (in this case, g minor), then it starts on a iv7 chord. Same chord in both cases: c-minor-7. And as was said before, the song is NOT in a major key; so g minor and e minor would be the two common keys we hear it in.

    Whenever you talk about functional harmony in jazz, make sure you refer to the home key. The way my students think of this tune is: ii-V-I-IV in Bb major, then ii-V-i in g minor, etc.

    All The Things You Are is another great tune for working on your thinking in this fashion:

    vi-ii-V-I-IV in Ab major, ii-V-I in C major;
    vi-ii-V-I-IV in Eb major, ii-V-I in G major;
    ii-V-I in G major, ii-V-I in E major, V+7 in F-;
    vi-ii-V-I-IV-iv-iii-biii(dim)-ii-V-I in Ab major.

    Thinking of the harmony functionally helps you to understand the parent scale(s) and chord extensions more completely; also, it's hard to improvise when you don't know exactly where you are and exactly where you're going at any given moment.
  17. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    I'm not sure that I'm going to add much to what has already been said, but what's going on here is common in jazz compositions. It's the concept of secondary dominant chords. The C-7 F7 to open the composition is a ii V of BbMajor, it's just that the BbMaj is functioning as the III chord, not the I chord.

    I think of it as a ii V of III. Here the V chord, F7, is a secondary dominant. It leads to a chord other than the I, but in the exact same way a ii V resolves to a I chord.
  18. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    It's worth mentioning that there are many successful jazz musicians who don't think about each chord individually.

    We might hear/think "ii-V-I in Bb, the relative major, followed by ii-V-i in G minor."

    They might hear/think "go to Bb, now resolve to G minor."

    Once you start thinking in this way, you can alter/substitute chords, as long as you end up in the right place. ;)
  19. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    Right. From an academic point of view, I think of the C-7 F7 BbMaj as a ii V of III, but from a practical standpoint, I think of the first seven chords as all part of G minor.
  20. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    I am going to subscribe this thread, and keep it as a reference.
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