JAZZ BASICS – 7TH CHORDS AND THE 2-5-1 CHORD PROGRESSION
The most common chord progression used in jazz music is the 2-5-1, using 7th chords. This means that in any given key, you take the 2nd note, the 5th note and the 1st note of the major scale, and play their corresponding 7th chords, in that order.
Whether we play the ‘Dominant 7th’, ‘Major 7th’ or ‘Minor 7th’ chord depends on exactly how those three chords fit into that key’s major scale.
For example, in the key of E, the 2nd, 5th and 1st notes would be F#, B and E.
The F# chord would be ‘F# Minor 7’, the B would be ‘B7 (dominant, or flat 7), and the E would be ‘E Major 7’. Play these three chords in this order, and you have a basic jazz tune.
Here are the three chords in every key:
By playing these three chords in a band, with a friend
who also plays guitar or with a backing track, you can improvise
lead over these progressions in the corresponding key’s major
scale, and the notes will fit perfectly.