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HomeBlogChord Progression Workout: ii7-V7-Imaj7

Chord Progression Workout: ii7-V7-Imaj7

The ii7-V7-Imaj7 is an important chord progression in jazz music, and any music for that matter. Thousands of tunes utilize this set of chord changes, and so being able to improvise on them is a must! You name it, Autumn Leaves, You Stepped Out of a Dream, I Love You, Blue Bossa…they all have ii-V-I’s in them.

This play-along we have provided for you, takes the ii7-V7-Imaj7 progression through all 12 keys. Practicing in all 12 keys is an incredible way to master anything you are working on. It forces you to know your instrument better, use your ears more, and translate things you know in comfortable keys to difficult ones.

Each key is played 3X each, and cycles through the Circle of 4ths. If you are not familiar with the Circle of 4ths, it is simply changing keys in intervals of 4ths(Ex. C to F is a perfect 4th interval away). So cycling through the Circle of 4ths would be: C-F-Bb-Eb-Ab-Db-Gb-B-E-A-D-G. Count em’! That’s all 12!

Why do we practice a ii-V-I progression in 4ths? Well, its just one way to organize the exercise, but also think about it…the chords move in 4ths!(Ex. Dm7-G7-Cmaj7) It makes sense!

But what is a ii-V-I progression!? The numbers represent the tones in the key we are in. If we are in the key of C major, our ii would be D. You simply just walk yourself up the major scale. What would be the V? If you go up the scale to the 5th degree, it is G.
The lower case number means it is a minor chord. Upper case means either it is a dominant 7th chord or a major 7th chord. V7 is dominant, Imaj7 is major. So what is a ii7-V7-Imaj7 in C? Dm7-G7-Cmaj7.

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Brent Vaartstra
Brent Vaartstra is a professional jazz guitarist and educator living in New York City. He is the head blogger and podcast host for which he owns and operates. He actively performs around the New York metropolitan area and is the author of the Hal Leonard publication "Visual Improvisation for Jazz Guitar." He's also the host of the music entrepreneurship podcast "Passive Income Musician."


  1. Hi,

    I’m having trouble with the timing on this exercise, can you help? I know my 2,5,1’s well enough I think, but maybe I’m tone deaf, in other words: I can’t get into the groove on when to start and then when to hit the next chord, can you help? (I wish there were visual cues on the screen)

    Also, the blurb at the top of the screen (at the very start) says: “3X each key”, so does that mean play the 2,5,1 cycle 3 times in a row or play the “2” three times, then the “5” three times, then the “1” three times? Thanks very much for your answer.

  2. This is great, and super challenging to me. I am a classical pianist trying to learn jazz, and while I understand the theory, actually thinking of chords and harmonic progressions and guide tones and target notes… phew, so foreign to me. I like this exercize because it feels like I'm playing jazz but I'm actually practicing one idea. Thank you!!


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