Home » Arts and Entertainment » Music

Piano Lesson: II-V-I Progressions In C Major

Aug 17, 2007
Let me give you some easy progressions that will help you in your improvisational piano playing!

What is a progression?

A progression is a set of chords played consecutively. Generally, successive chords in a chord progression share some notes, which provides harmonic and linear continuity to a passage.

What is a II-V-I progression?

Is is a chord progression with three chords built on the roots of the second, fifth and first note of a key.

The three roman numerals correspond to the digits 2, 5 and 1. In it's most basic form the numbers indicate the root of a triad. For example, the roman number I in C-major means a triad built from the note C. This triad consists of the notes C, E and G.

The Roman numeral II in the key of C-major tells you to play a triad built from the notes in the C-major scale beginning with the second note. The notes will be D, F and A.

The Roman numeral V indicates a triad built from the fifth step on the C-scale. The fifth note in the C-scale is G so the triad will include the notes G, B and D.

Piano tab notation

In order to demonstrate the chords I will use a notation suitable for articles sites. First we will look at the middle C. The note C on the middle of the piano keyboard, sometimes near the key hole of some pianos is called C4.

The number 4 indicates that it is the C on the fourth octave of the piano. Of course, there are piano keyboards with less keys and less octaves. In this case you have to think of C4 as middle C and nothing else.

Our first piano chord progression

We will start out by playing a progression with the triad chords built on the second, fifth and the first note of the C scale.

LH: D3 RH: D4 F4 A4 (Dm)

LH: G3 RH: G4 B4 D5 (G major)

LH: C3 RH: C4 E4 G4 (C major)

As you might guess LH means left hand and in the Dm chord D3 indicates that you play the note D3 on your piano or keyboard with your left hand at the same time as you play the right hand notes.

This II-V-I progression in C major is a little bit clumsy. You have to move your fingers a little to much in order to play the chords. We will adjust the G major chord a bit and play the progression in the following manner:

LH: D3 RH: D4 F4 A4 (Dm)

LH: G3 RH: B3 D4 G4 (G major)

LH: C3 RH: C4 E4 G4 (C major)

To make smooth transitions between the piano chords in the II-V-I progression you can change the chords even more. Let's change the Dm chord to Dm11 and G major to G7.

LH: D3 RH: C4 F4 G4 (Dm11)

LH: G3 RH: B3 F4 G4 (G7)

LH: C3 RH: C4 E4 G4 (C major)

We might as well change the C major chord to Cmaj7 in order to make the changes smoother.

LH: D3 RH: C4 F4 G4 (Dm11)

LH: G3 RH: B3 F4 G4 (G7)

LH: C3 RH: B3 E4 G4 (Cmaj7)

Finally we will introduce a substitute chord for G. Acually a so called tritone substitution.

This means that instead of a G chord we will use a chord with the root a tritone interval from G, that is three whole steps. Instead of G we will play Db+11.

LH: D3 RH: C4 F4 G4 (Dm11)

LH: Db3 RH: B3 F4 G4 (Db+11)

LH: C3 RH: B3 E4 G4 (Cmaj7)

This will make the chord changes even smoother, especially the bass notes, and maybe more interesting. You can use this formula, which in the key of C means to play Dm, G7 and C, to find many interesting variations on this theme.

It will be a great help for you in piano improvisation to have a working knowledge of the II-V-I progression with variations in different keys because this progression is used in a wide variety of music genres.
About the Author
Peter Edvinsson is a musician, composer and music teacher. Visit his site Capotasto Music and download your free piano sheet music and learn to play resources at http://www.capotastomusic.com
Rating:
Please Rate:
(Average: Not rated)
Views: 134
Print Email Report Share
Article Categories
    • Classic Cars
    • Motorcycles
    • Recreational Vehicles
    • SUVs
    • Trucks
    • Vans
    • Branding
    • Business Opportunities
    • Careers and Jobs
    • Corporate
    • Customer Service
    • Direct Mail
    • Entrepreneurship
    • Ethics
    • Financing
    • Franchising
    • Home-Based Business
    • Human Resources
    • Import and Export
    • Leadership
    • Management
    • Market Research
    • Marketing and Advertising
    • Negotiation
    • Network Marketing
    • Networking
    • Organizational
    • Presentation
    • Project Management
    • Public Relations
    • Small Business
    • Strategic Planning
    • Team Building
    • Telemarketing
    • Training
    • Data Recovery
    • Databases
    • Games
    • Hardware
    • Networks
    • Operating Systems
    • Programming
    • Security
    • Software
    • Spyware and Viruses
    • Ask an Expert
    • College and University
    • Home Schooling
    • K-12
    • Languages
    • Online Education
    • Psychology
    • Accounting
    • Credit
    • Currency Trading
    • Debt Consolidation
    • Insurance
    • Investing
    • Leasing
    • Loans
    • Mortgage
    • Mutual Funds
    • Personal Finance
    • Stock Market
    • Structured Settlements
    • Taxes
    • Wealth Building
    • Coffee
    • Cooking
    • Gourmet
    • Recipes
    • Wine and Spirits
    • Acne
    • Aerobics
    • Alternative Medicine
    • Beauty
    • Cancer
    • Cosmetics
    • Depression
    • Diabetes
    • Diseases and Conditions
    • Fitness Equipment
    • Fitness
    • Hair Loss
    • Heart Disease
    • Medicine
    • Men's Health
    • Muscle Building
    • Nutrition
    • Skin Care
    • Supplements and Vitamins
    • Weight Loss
    • Women's Health
    • Yoga
    • Arts and Crafts
    • Babies
    • Collecting
    • Elderly Care
    • Genealogy
    • Hobbies
    • Parenting
    • Pets
    • Pregnancy
    • Woodworking
    • Feng Shui
    • Gardening
    • Home Appliances
    • Home Security
    • Interior Design
    • Landscaping
    • Affiliate Programs
    • Article Marketing
    • Auctions
    • Audio
    • Banner Advertising
    • Blogging
    • Broadband
    • Domain Names
    • E-Books
    • E-Commerce
    • Email Marketing
    • Ezines and Newsletters
    • Forums
    • Internet Marketing
    • Link Popularity
    • Pay-Per-Click
    • Podcasting
    • RSS
    • Search Engine Marketing
    • Search Engine Optimization
    • Security
    • Social Media
    • Spam
    • Video
    • Viral Marketing
    • Web Design
    • Web Development
    • Web Hosting
    • Copyright
    • Cyber Law
    • Intellectual Property
    • National, State, Local
    • Patents
    • Regulatory Compliance
    • Trademarks
    • Buying
    • Selling
    • Baseball
    • Basketball
    • Boating
    • Cycling
    • Extreme Sports
    • Fishing
    • Football
    • Golf
    • Hockey
    • Hunting
    • Martial Arts
    • Running
    • Scuba Diving
    • Soccer
    • Swimming
    • Tennis
    • Dating
    • Divorce
    • Marriage
    • Weddings
    • Astrology
    • Buddhism
    • Christianity
    • Faith
    • Hinduism
    • Islam
    • Judaism
    • Meditation
    • Metaphysical
    • New Age
    • Cable and Satellite TV
    • Cell Phones
    • Communication
    • Gadgets and Gizmos
    • GPS
    • Satellite Radio
    • Video Conferencing
    • VoIP
    • Addictions
    • Coaching
    • Goal Setting
    • Motivational
    • Stress Management
    • Time Management
    • Clothing
    • Electronics
    • Fashion
    • Gifts
    • Jewelry
    • Causes and Organizations
    • Environment
    • History
    • Holidays
    • Men's Issues
    • Nature
    • Philosophy
    • Politics
    • Women's Issues
    • World Affairs
    • Air Travel
    • Camping
    • Cruises
    • Destinations
    • Outdoors
    • Article Writing
    • Book Reviews
    • Copywriting
    • Fiction
    • Non-Fiction
    • Poetry
    • Quotes
    • Screenplay
    • Tools and Resources