Tag Archives: II-V-I sequence

The II-V-I sequence is the most common and important chord sequence in jazz.

Learn Jazz piano video on YouTube

 Learn Jazz piano video on YouTube

Click here for my new  Learn Jazz piano video on YouTube

This Learn Jazz Piano video on YouTube is a short recap about the relationship between a major scale and its seven chords.

Here are the 7th chords that belong to F major.

 Learn Jazz piano video on YouTube
7 related chords in F major

To purchase my Learn Jazz Piano videos click here.

Here’s a summary of the lesson content:

Lesson 1 – From scales to chords

  • Soloing over the Pentatonic scale
  • Mastering intervals
  • The V – I concept
  • One formula to construct all major scales
  • 7 chords, one family
 Learn Jazz piano video on YouTube
7 chords, 1 scale

Lesson 2 – Building a chord sequence

  • Chord sequences
  • The relative minor and its scales
  • The family row of minor triads
  • Soloing in a minor key

Lesson 3 –  Mastering every key

  • The circle of 5ths
  • How to play in any key
  • Preview of the II-V-I sequence
  • Introduction to the turnaround

Lesson 4 – Swing time

  • Learning to swing
  • The construction of 7th chords
  • How to interpret chord symbols
  • Shells – how not to upset the bass player

Lesson 5 – Walking 3s

  • Turnarounds part 2: I – VI – II -V
  • Walking 3s and 7s: the seeds of vertical improvisation.
  • How to use passing notes.
  • Voice leading

Lesson 6 – Extensions

  • Extensions: how to use 9ths, 11ths and 13th.
  • Know which extensions work with which chord.
  • Voicing a chord using extensions.
  • Introduction to Modes.

Lesson 7 – The II-V-I sequence

  • Master the II – V – I sequence in all keys
  • Seven soloing techniques over II – V – I
  • Alterations: know your sharp 11 from your flat 13
  •  Flat 9s and the diminished chord

Lesson 8 – How to comp

  • Comp like a pro
  • Find the best chord voicings
  • Use the right extensions
  • Build up to a five-note comp
  • Explore rhythmic variations

Lesson 9 – Modes

  • Know your Mixodydian from your Dorian
  • Grasp the connection between modes and chords
  • The art of modal soloing and comping
  • How to play ‘So What’

Lesson 10 – Autumn Leaves part 1

  • Playing your first standard
  • Learning the melody
  • The comp
  • The shells
  • The solo

Lesson 11 – Autumn Leaves part 2

  • Taking Autumn Leaves to the next level
  • How to fill out the melody
  • Comping with alterations
  • Soloing with vertical improvisation

Lesson 12 – The Blues part 1

Play with confidence over the blues.

  • How to solo creatively
  • The minor blues
  • Blues in 12/8
    Plus lots of tips, tricks and licks!

Lesson 13 – The Blues part 2

  • Taking the blues beyond the basics.
  • Chord changes that turn blues into jazz.
  • Lydian dominant & diminished scales.
  • Rootess left-hand voicings.

Lesson 14 – Bebop blues

  • Left hand 4-note rootless voicings
  • Constructing the Bebop sequence.
  • How to solo over a Bebop blues
  • Comping over a Bebop blues

Lesson 15 – Rootless voicing

  • Constructing left hand rootless voicings.
  • Applying  rootless voicings to II-V-I and turnarounds.
  • Adding the alterations: b9, b13 etc.

Lesson 16 – Tritone substitution

  • Diminished theory
  • Soloing over diminshed chords
  • Using diminished scales over dominant 7ths
  • Mastering tritone substitution

Lesson 17 – Putting it together

  • Now put your knowledge to work!
  • Combine learned techniques to play a jazz standard.
  • Rootless voicings + tritone substitution
  • Altered and diminished scales

Lesson 18 – Decoding a standard

  • Analysis of ‘All The Things You Are.’
  • How tunes are structured.
  • Identifying key centres
  • Connecting melody and chords
  • How to learn tunes

Lesson 19 – Reharmonising a standard

  • Chord substitution
  • How to reharmonise a tune
  • All The Thing You Are: advanced
  • Take The A Train reharmonised

Lesson 20 – Rhythm Changes

  • Next to a 12-bar blues, Rhythm Changes
    is the most important chord sequence in jazz.
    Master all its forms in this vital video lesson.


For my Learn Jazz Piano eBooks click here.

 Learn Jazz piano video on YouTube
My eBooks

Practicing Jazz Piano: THE 3RD GOLDEN RULE

Practicing Jazz Piano: THE 3RD GOLDEN RULE

Practicing Jazz Piano

Golden rule number 3:

Identify II – V – I sequences

1)   II – V – I 

practicing jazz piano
learn jazz piano II-V-I sequence in Bb

This is by far the most important chord sequence when practicing jazz piano, and you need to recognise it in its major and minor forms. Here’s the sequence in Bb major. And here’s the sequence in G minor. 251 G minor Both the major and minor II – V – I sequences share the following features:

  • A perfect 4th interval (5 half steps) separates each chord.
  • The II chord is minor.
  • The V chord is a dominant 7.
practicing jazz piano
G harmonic minor scale

But there are also differences: In the minor version, chord II is usually min7(b5), also known as a half diminished. This is because the sequence is based on the harmonic minor scale. Look at the harmonic minor scale of G. Notice that note 6, Eb, is the same flat 5 note contained in the II chord: Amin7(b5). Now look at the tonic chord (the I chord) for both the major and minor sequence. I have purposely left it as a triad. This is because it can be played either as a 7 chord or as a 6 chord. For example, the II – V – I in G minor could end as Gmin7, but could equally end like this: min251 ending in 6

2)   II – V sequences

You will come across many II – V sequences that don’t resolve to the tonic. However, when soloing, use the scale that it ‘wants’ to resolve to. This is known as the key centre of the sequence. Here’s a string of four major II – V’s, in which I improvise through their key centres. 4 major key centres, new Press play (below) to listen.

practicing jazz piano
2 minor 25 key centres

And here are two pairs of minor II – V’s, in which I use their tonic harmonic minor scales for my solo. Press play (below) to listen.

Learn much more about the II – V – I sequence in video lesson 7 of Learn Jazz Piano.

Here’s the link.

You can also read about this topic in Learn Jazz Piano book 1, chapter 13.

Get my Learn Jazz Piano book here.

Studying Jazz Piano with Paul Abrahams: The first golden rule

Studying Jazz Piano with Paul Abrahams: The first golden rule

Studying Jazz Piano with Paul Abrahams

Golden rule number 1 when studying jazz piano:

1               When studying jazz piano, learn all your major and minor scales.

Major             Major scales run horizontally through major II – V – I sequences.

Don’t avoid the flat keys; they come up all the time!

Studying Jazz Piano with Paul Abrahams
II-V-I sequence in Eb

 Minor            Although there are three minor scales, you should focus on the harmonic and melodic minor. Here they are in A. Note the difference.

Studying Jazz Piano with Paul Abrahams
Harmonic and melodic minor scales

The harmonic minor can be used horizontally over minor II – V – I sequences.

studying jazz piano

The melodic minor is your building block for scales that can be played over a dominant 7 chord. Here are two of them: the Lydian Dominant and the Altered, both based on A Melodic minor.

Note that the two following scales, D Lydian Dominant, and Ab Altered, share the same notes.

Studying Jazz Piano with Paul Abrahams
Lydian dominant and altered scales

The Lydian Dominant scale, with its #4, works well when a dominant 7 chord is static (not pointing to its tonic).  Here’s an example where I’m playing the D Lydian Dominant scale over a D7 chord.

studying jazz piano

The Altered scale works well over a dominant 7 when it resolves to the tonic.

This scale contains all the altered notes: b9, #9, #11 and b13.

Here’s a II – V– I sequence in Db major.

studying jazz piano

I realize that Db major is not the friendliest of keys but there are tunes, such as Body and Soul, that are usually played in this key.

Find out more about the II – V – I sequences here.

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