Or if not….. it exists! I swear!
Cliff asked me about beginning ii V I stuff for Sax Station the other day.
He said, “I’m new to it so not sure what notes are involved, how to fit it into a melody, what it’s best used for etc…….I’ve just read that a good saxophonist needs to be familiar with it.”
At that point, I realized he had heard of the progression, but wasn’t too familiar with it, although he did know it could be important to know.
Here are some pieces you need to understand the basics of the ii V I progression.
If you have a ii V I in the key of C, then the notes in all three of those chords are the notes from the C major scale.
If you have a ii V I in the key of Bb, then the notes in all three of those chords are the notes from the Bb major scale.
The ii V I progression leads from one chord to the next to the last. There is tension and release. Resolution with the I chord.
There are also minor ii V i’s, but you can get into that later.
So, ii V and I refer to the different modes and chords that use the notes of the modes.
Let’s say you have a C major scale. It has seven notes in it. C, D, E, F, G, A, B.
If you had a number that corresponded to each of those notes, they would be 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
If you used roman numerals, they would be I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII.
You can build chords upon each of those roots- triads, seventh chords, etc. Every other note is used in the chord, going up in thirds, so based on the root, the seventh chord would be C, E, G, B (in the key of C).
That would be a major chord. The I chord.
If you built a chord on D, using the notes in C major, it would be D, F, A, C. That would be a minor chord.
The roman numerals can be either capital or lower case. Capitals are used for major and dominant, lower case is used for minor. Half diminished, etc are also lower case and have other symbols.
The ii V I has a minor second chord, a dominant five chord, and a major I chord.
ii V I progressions happen in music, the notes used in the progression are the notes of the major scale of the I. Which notes you emphasize gives the color to the chords and sounds more ‘in’ the changes or ‘out’.
Playing a ii V I progression on the piano can help. And listening to music and recognizing when it comes up.
What other questions do you have about the ii V I progression? Leave a comment!