In the first two articles (part 1, part 2) of the series, I presented some important chord progressions that can help musicians improvise better. Today, we will continue the series with yet some other important progressions. Please make sure you have mastered the principles described in the first two articles (see links above) – as this article will build on those principles.
Let’s look at some possibilities in constructing new progressions – based on what we have learned so far. We will use the scale of C.
1)V7 of II
Em7 —— A7 (*)
Bbm7 —- Eb7 (*)
Here Eb7 is the substitute of A7, and it is preceeded with its IIm7. Em7 may go towards A7 or Eb7. Bbm7 may go towards Eb7 or A7.
* A7 or Eb7 may go towards Dm7 or Abm7 of the next formula (towards II) – see below.
2)IIm7 towards V7.
Dm7 ——– G7
Abm7 ——- Db7
Here Db7 is the substitute of G7, and it is preceeded with its IIm7. Dm7 may go towards G7 or Db7. Abm7 may go towards Db7 or G7.
3) V7 of V
Am7 —– D7 (*)
Ebm7 — Ab7 (*)
Here Am7 may go towards D7 or Ab7. Ebm7 may go towards Ab7 or D7.
D7 is a V7 of V7 (V7 of G7 in the scale of C).
Ab7 is the substitute of D7, preceeded with its IIm7.
* D7 or Ab7 may go towards G7 or Db7 of formula 2) above. That’s towards V7, which itself can be preceeded with its IIm7.
Let’s look at the following progression:
Cmaj7 — | A7 — | Dm7 — | G7 — | Cmaj7 — | Eb7 — | D7 — | Db7 — | Cmaj7 |
Now let’s reharmonize it with some of the formulas – as described above:
Cmaj7 — | Em7 – Eb7 – | Dm7 — | Dm7 – Db7 | Em7(b5) — | Bbm7 – Eb7 | Am7 – D7 | Dm7 – Db7 | Cmaj7 |
…and now, the analysis.
We are in the scale of C, thus Cmaj7 is a Imaj7. Eb7 in the second measure is a V7 substitute of A7 and is preceeded with Em7, as it’s described in formula 1) above. Dm7 stays the same in the 3rd measure. In measure 4, we have Db7, which is the substitute of G7 but preceeds IIm7 of G7 as in formula 2. We then have Em7(b5), which is the substitute of Cmaj7. Note that we have (b5) because it’s possible to have either just the 5th (interval) or the altered 5th (interval), and here it makes the chord richer.
For the next measure, we have simply added IIm7 to the existing Em7. And the same thing happens for the next measure. For the measure before the last one, we have already used formula 2 and finally it is resolved into Imaj7.
You could have chosen different possibilities as offered by the formulas and you would have obtained a different progression that sounds as great as the above. With time and experience, you will develop better understandings. To better understand what we just went through, try going backwards – that is, from the end to the beginning of the progression. That should help you understand it better!
That concludes another session of harmonic/chord progression. In the next articles of the series, we will look at the one skill that is a must for musicians, improvisation. Don’t miss it!