The Ii V I Chord Progression
The Professor
Aug 26 2013, 11:55 AM
Theory Instructor
Posts: 888
Joined: 8-January 13
From: Manchester UK
The ii V I Chord Progression

As we learned in a previous lesson, the IV V I chord progression is one of the most famous and commonly used progressions in modern popular music.

While Pop, Rock and Country, among other, performers love to use these three chords in their songs, Jazz composers and arrangers much prefer a slightly altered version of this progression, the ii V I chord progression.

In today’s lesson we’ll be looking at how you build a ii V I chord progression, 10 classic songs that use this chord progression in their construction, and we’ll test your theory knowledge at the end of this lesson with written review exercises.

What Is the ii V I Chord Progression

To begin, let’s take a look at how you build a ii V I chord progression, and how you would spell these chords in the key of C major.

If you want to build a ii V I chord progression in the key of C major, or any key for that matter. you simply take the 2nd, 5th and first notes of that scale, D-G-C in this case, and build four-note chords up from those three root notes.

In the case of major keys, as we are looking at in this lesson, the ii chord is always a m7, the V chord is always a V7, and the I chord is always Imaj7.

Here is how that would look on paper.

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As well, here is how these chords would look like when written out in a “lead sheet” format, as just chord symbols on top of bar markers.

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List of 10 Songs With ii V I Chords

Even if you haven’t heard of the ii V I chord progression before from a theory standpoint, you have no doubt heard countless famous songs that use these three chords.

Here is a list of 10 ii V I songs to get you started with this applying this chord progression to the fretboard.

Of course there are countless other tunes, especially since this progression is in a large number of the jazz standard repertoire, but this list will get you started on some of the most commonly played jazz and American Songbook tunes that use the ii V I chord progression.

1. Summertime
2. Autumn Leaves
3. Blue Bossa
4. Tune Up
5. All The Things You Are
6. Stella by Starlight
7. Satin Doll
8. Take the A Train
9. Honeysuckle Rose
10. Misty

Do you have a favorite ii V I song? Share it in the comments thread below.

Test Your Theory Chops

Now that you have learned where the ii V I chord progression comes from, and checked out 10 songs that use the ii V I chord progression, let’s test you knowledge with a few theory question regarding these 3 chords.

If you decide to answer these questions, post them below and I can check your work, using the “spoiler” button to the left of this box as not to give away your answers.
Here is a chord progression that uses the ii, V and I chords. How many keys can you write out using these chords? Post your answer(s) below.

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Do you have a question or comment about I IV V Chords? Share your thoughts in the comment thread below.

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