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Discussion Starter #1
Does anyone know of a website where I can find a syllabus of all of the ii-V-I chords?
 

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Nu2sax, do you simply want a listing of the chords, or do you want a series of patterns to play? If the latter, check out Nefertiti's ii-V-I collection. He's a member of this forum. Tim Price also has some very good ones. If the former, there are dozens of jazz theory books that would list them. But you don't really need a "syllabus." All you need is to know how to spell a major chord, a minor chord, and a dominant chord, then apply the formula to every key. For ii-V-I in a specific key you can figure it out modally:

Take each scale degree of a major scale and build the chord in 3rds. So, for example in C:

Imaj7 is C E G B
iimin7 is D F A C
V7 is G B D F

(In C, C is the I, D is the ii, and G is the V)

That's ii-V-I on the key of C major.

You can derive the others from each major scale in turn. If you don't know your major scales, forget about everything else for the moment and learn them. Then continue on. All the best.....
 

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Discussion Starter #3
JL,

I actually want both, and I'd prefer to figure out the chords from the major scales myself. In fact I was just trying to do that. Then I got a bit confused about whether I was doing it right.

I guess the question is, if I want to derive the ii-V-I chords from say the C# scale, do I use C# maj7, D-7, and G7, or C#Maj, (D#7????)Eb-7, and G#7? Or neither. See where I get confused?
 

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Let's keep it simple and use C for the example - for C#, just raise everything a half step.

C scale through two octaves: C D E F G A B C D E F G A B C

I chord is derived by starting on the first step of the scale.

C D E F G A B C >> CEGB

The iim starts on the second step of the scale.

C D E F G A B C D >> DFAC

Note that if we don't create any accidentals that the chord is a minor 7th.

The V7 starts on the fifth step of the scale.

C D E F G A B C D E F G >> GBDF

The chord is naturally a dominant 7th.
 

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Aebersold has some good volumes for practising II-V7-I over.

new2sax said:
I guess the question is, if I want to derive the ii-V-I chords from say the C# scale, do I use C# maj7, D-7, and G7, or C#Maj, (D#7????)Eb-7, and G#7? Or neither. See where I get confused?
D#min7, G#7, C# but better to use Ebm7, Ab7, Db
 

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Discussion Starter #6
DR. G.,

Yes, that's easy enough to follow. The i chord is the major chord, the ii chord is the minor chord, and the V chord is a dominant 7th chord. Which, from the C# (Db) scale would make the ii chord a D# minor chord, which I've never heard of and cannot find anywhere. Again, this is the source of my confusion. I could simply follow the formula, which would give me C#, E#, G#, B# for the i chord, D#, F#, A#, C# for the ii chord, and G#, B#, D#, F# for the V chord. But the chords also are chords with a name in and of themselves right? So is there a D# minor 7th chord. I know there's an Eb minor 7th.

Am I being really dense or what?
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks Dr. G and Kavala,

I guess I'm deriving the chords correctly, and just second guessing myself. I guess I could tell that they SOUNDED correct. I just don't want to practice and memorize only to find that I've gotten it wrong.
 

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They are all the same but with different starting points.
All the diatonic chords are build by using every other note in the scale from
a note in the scale.

Here's the key of C with the numbers and types shown.

Chord Numeral, Scale degrees used , Literal notes and chord name in key of C
I Maj, 1 3 5 7, CEGB C major 7
ii-7, 2 4 6 8, DFAC D-7
iii-7, 3 5 7 9(2), EGBD E-7
IV Maj7, 4 6 8 3, FACE F Maj7
V7, 5 7 9 4 , GBDF G7
vi-7, 6 8 3 5 , ACEG A-7
vii 1/2 dim, 7 9(2) 4 6, BDFA B-7b5

(9) is the same as 2 but up an octave

Go to a piano and play CEGB now march your hand up the keyboard
keeping the every other not shape.
That's the chord set.

All the other keys are structured the same.
All the chords are build using the scale notes from the major scale at hand. Start on one then go up playing every other one. They are all built as a stack of maj and minor thirds.
 

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NU2SAX said:
I could simply follow the formula, which would give me C#, E#, G#, B# for the i chord, D#, F#, A#, C# for the ii chord, and G#, B#, D#, F# for the V chord. But the chords also are chords with a name in and of themselves right? So is there a D# minor 7th chord. I know there's an Eb minor 7th.

Am I being really dense or what?
You're not being dense at all. In fact your "confusion" and questions lead me to believe you're pretty intelligent, so I'll take a chance on confusing you further. Read on.

Everyone gets confused initially with this stuff because when you spell scales and chords strictly from the key signature, you run into some problems naming the notes. Strictly speaking, you have spelled those chords correctly. However, B# is actually the same note as C (these are called enharmonic notes: same note, different names). D# = Eb, and E# = F. Also C# = Db. A keyboard will help make all this very clear.

Try this. Instead of thinking C# major, think Db major. It's exactly the same key and scale:

Db Eb F Gb Ab Bb C

Now your ii-V-I chords are:

Imaj7 = Dbmaj7: Db F Ab C
iimin7 = Ebmin7: Eb Gb Bb Db
V7 = Ab7: Ab C Eb Gb

I realize it's still a lot of flats in this case, but the notes C & F are easier to deal with in your mind than D# & E#. You get used to doing this after a while. I tend to mix flats & sharps around to make it easier to visualize. So, for example, even if I'm "thinking" in the key of C#, I always visualize the 3rd as F, rather than E#. And (please don't let this confuse you!) when I think of an Ab7 chord, I visualize the b7th as an F#, even though technically it's a Gb. Only because it works for me. You have to attain some flexibility with this.

At the risk of further confusion, I'll add something else here. I think it is important at some point to think in terms of the chord root, as well as spelling chords modally. So you can define chord quality, maj, min, dominant, etc., relative to a major scale based on the chord root. Like this:

Cmaj7 = 1 3 5 7 (of the C maj scale) = C E G B
C7 = 1 3 5 b7 (of the C maj scale) = C E G Bb
Cmin7 = 1 b3 5 b7 (of the C maj scale) = C Eb G Bb

Now you can derive any chord in this fashion, based on the root. I'll give one more example at random:

Emin7......Take an E major scale, flat the 3rd & 7th, then spell the chord:

E G B D (the 3rd of E maj is G# and the 7th is D#).

Hope this helps you get the idea, but you'd be wise to get a good theory book and work through it very carefully. And a keyboard is worth its weight in gold.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Yes, it's the enharmonic notes that were throwing me off. I think I was being dense in a way because I know about enharmonic notes. When I practice my scales I don't "practice" the three enharmonic scales, if you know what I mean, I practice/think C# and not Db, etc.

I sat down with the major scales and figured each ii-V-i out and then checked them against a listing of scales I found in a theory book. I did get them right. I figured it would sink in better if I spelled them out on my own rather than just copying them down.

So thanks all for all of your help! More questions to follow...
 

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You're off to a great start. Keep at it!
 

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NU2SAX said:
I sat down with the major scales and figured each ii-V-i out and then checked them against a listing of scales I found in a theory book. I did get them right. I figured it would sink in better if I spelled them out on my own rather than just copying them down...
Right on, that's definitely the way to do it. Carrying this concept a bit further, when you start practicing the chord arpeggios and ii-V-I patterns on the horn, get away from the written music as quickly as possible and learn to play them without reading the notes. You'll learn them better that way and it will be easier to incorporate the ii-V-I progression when improvising. Having said that, everyone is different, so do whatever gets results. Be patient, too.
 

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NU2SAX said:
Yes, it's the enharmonic notes that were throwing me off. I think I was being dense in a way because I know about enharmonic notes. When I practice my scales I don't "practice" the three enharmonic scales, if you know what I mean, I practice/think C# and not Db, etc.
If you practice scales following the circle of fourths (or circle of fifths, depending where you live :D ), you'll eventually get the grip of it. And it gets a lot easier finding the chords in the scales :

http://www.jazzwise.com/catalog/media/AeberHbk/24.pdf
http://www.jazzwise.com/catalog/media/cof/cof.pdf

There is a tremendous load of info on the net, but working with it will get the system in it clear. It's just plain beautiful...

If you also remember the sequence : F-C-G-D-A-E-B and backwards. That gives you the sequence of the sharps (in one direction) and the flats (in the other direction). Note that this sequence is found in the circle of fifths too.

Example : C major : no sharps
G major : one sharp (that's F#)
D major : two sharps (that's F# and C#)

When going the circle the other way :
F major : one flat (that's Bb)
Bb major : two flats (that's Eb and Bb)
Eb major : three flats (that's Bb, Eb and Ab)
and so on.

You see the system?
 

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Jolle said:
If you also remember the sequence : F-C-G-D-A-E-B and backwards.
Probably the best way to practice transposing along the cycle would be "backwards" to the order Jolle states. That is, moving up in 4ths or down in 5ths: B E A D G C F Bb Eb Ab Db (C#) F#

Most chord progressions move in this direction, using fragments of the cycle.
 

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NU2SAX said:
I practice/think C# and not Db, etc.

...
Don't fall into this trap.

Practise the flat keys also. Often they work a lot better.
Personally, I prefer the sound of the flat keys as I think
the Bb/Eb series of saxes sound better in keys such as Bb Major
and Eb major (sax keys).

It's a trap to continually think of a particular lever on the sax
as being the 'G#' key (4th finger LH), when in fact it also is used to create 'Ab'.
The same with the 'Eb' lever (4th finger RH). It also functions as D#.

If you are thinking G# in the key of Eb, it all gets very confusing.
 

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JL said:
Probably the best way to practice transposing along the cycle would be "backwards" to the order Jolle states. That is, moving up in 4ths or down in 5ths: B E A D G C F Bb Eb Ab Db (C#) F#

Most chord progressions move in this direction, using fragments of the cycle.
Absolutely true. I was more referring of the order the sharps (and backwards : the flats) were added when proceeding through the circle. It comes from the classic education here.

But you're 100% right. I learned them both ways, it helps a lot with tons of things. (notice that the flats also follow the same order when going through the cycle: Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, Gb (=F#), Cb (=B), Fb (=E)...)
 

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Good point about the sharps & flats, Jolle. The thing I really harp on to those who want to learn and apply music theory is to start with the 12 major scales and learn them COLD. I mean way past the point where you have to ask yourself how many sharps or flats you have in a certain key. What you need to know (instantly) is that the 5th tone in C# is G#, the 7th is C (actually B#), the 3rd is, yes, E#, etc. And in Db, the 5th tone is Ab, the 3rd is F, the 7th is C. In the key of G, the 5th is D, the 7th is F#. In the key of F, the third is A, the 4th is Bb. And so on......for every key. Ideally you can instantly name/visualize each scale degree of the major scale in any key. Realistically, you might have to think for a moment, especially in keys you don't play in that often, but the better handle you have on this the easier it will be to learn all the rest of the theory.

Why is that? Because everything is related to the major scales. Take the terms "min3rd", "b7th," #4, etc. Then the question is: "minor" compared to what? What is the original note that is made minor? It's a major scale degree that has been lowered a half step. Same thing with the b7th or the #4 (or "augmented" 4th--the term "augmented" can be used for a note that has been raised a half step, the same as using "minor" for a tone that has been lowered a half step). So in the key of C, a minor or flat 7th, is a Bb (lower the maj7th B by a half step). Now when someone tells you a C7 chord has a b7th, you know it's a Bb. C "dorian" has a b3rd and a b7th; you can immediately spell the dorian scale in C by lowering the 3rd and 7th of a C major scale. You couldn't do this if you didn't know the C major scale to begin with. Same with every other key.

Once you learn that the 9th, 11th, & 13th are chord extensions that equate to the 2nd, 4th, and 6th scale degrees respectively, you can easily figure out that a C7b9 chord contains a Db (2nd tone = 9th of C major scale is D).

Etc. Hopefully, whoever is trying to learn this stuff gets the idea. Even if what I said is confusing now, don't worry about it. Once you know the 12 major scales perfectly and can spell each scale out in your head, you'll be on your way.
 
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