Jazz School: Major 2-5-1 Chord Progression: Diatonic Scale-Chord Pairings


Lesson Goal: To become fluent in the diatonic “scale-chord” pairings for the major 2-5-1 chord progression…

One way to conceive of the ii7-V7-IM7 chord progression is as three sets of “scale-chord” or “chord-scale” pairings as follows…

The Dm7 chord is paired with the D [Dorian] mode of the C major scale…


IMPORTANT: This is NOT the same as Dorian modal music. This is tonal harmony in the key of C Major, not modal harmony in the key of D Dorian.

The G7 chord is paired with the G [Mixolydian] mode of the C major scale…


IMPORTANT: This is NOT the same as Mixolydian modal music. This is tonal harmony in the key of C Major, not the key of G Mixolydian.

The CM7 chord is paired with the C Major scale you already know…


Now let’s put it all together with voice leading in the left hand chords…


As you listen/play, simply be receptive to the overall sound-feelings while keeping in mind that THIS is what a major ii7-V7-IM7 chord progression sounds and feels like. Such is nothing more than ear training by experience and association. And it won’t take long for you to recognize a ii7-V7-IM7 chord progression when you hear it!


Using your ears and knowledge of scales and chord structure, “transpose” this pattern to all spellings in three musically-useful patterns:

  1. Chromatically Ascending: C > Db > D > Eb > E > F > Gb > G > Ab > A > Bb > B > C.
  2. Chromatically Descending: C > B > Bb > A > Ab > G > Gb > F > E > Eb > D > Db > C.
  3. Cycle of Dominants: C > F > Bb > Eb > Ab > Db > Gb > B > E > A > D > G > C.

Doing so will develop an enormous scale and chord vocabulary that you will know by ear, intellect, eye, and muscle… laying a rock solid foundation for fluent improvisation.

learn more… Major 2-5-1 Chord Progression: Root Position 7th Chord Arpeggios

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