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Jazz Chord Progression

Clifton Jackson (35622) · [archive]
Style: Jazz · Level: Beginner · Tempo: 20
Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9


Fellow Bass Players, Bassists, Bottom Masters, Low Frequency Dwellers, and Deep End Monsters, as some of us like to be called! This is my first lesson, at ActiveBass.com. This lesson will concern Jazz Chord Progressions using the Roman Numerals, and the getting of the notes for the chords. I will use Walking Bass Lines throughout this lesson. If you play "The Blues" then you are already familiar with the Roman Numerals.

In Jazz, the chord progressions are at times complex, and can come at a very fast pace of two, three or more per measure! This can make it difficult to read, write & play for some Bassists. I'll show you some examples to get you going on this.

The ii-V-I is a very popular progression and is widely used. But in Jazz it has been used as though it is the only progression there is, although there are many others. We will use this progression and a couple of others. And find out the answer to my "Burning question!" Where do the Notes come from?

This is a good place to talk about the Roman Numerals. They come from the positions of the Notes of the scale. Roman Numerals are used to identify chords on each Note of a scale. e.g. The Lydian mode* is the fourth mode of a Major scale, so the IV chord in a progression is 'Major' based on the Lydian mode. The Roman Numerals, give us a tool to work with so, that we can discuss musical ideas in any key. *(If you are unfamiliar with the Modes, See lesson #9, "Modes of the Major Scale" by Christopher Sung.)

I feel that the Roman Numerals should be written as: Major chords use 'Capital' Roman Numerals, minor chords use 'lower case' Roman Numerals and the diminished chords use 'lower case' Roman Numerals with a 'small circle () or some other symbol.' This will avoid confession when reading, writing and playing music using Roman Numerals! Yeah...I'm 'Old School' on this point! :^D

Here is an example of a Major and minor scale with Roman Numerals. ( =Half Diminished chord)

  • G Major scale
  • G - Am - Bm - C - D - Em - F#m
  • I - ii - iii - IV - V - vi - vii

  • G minor scale
Gm - A - Bb - Cm - D - Eb - F i - ii - III - iv - v - VI - VII

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