Useful Progressions beyond (251, 1625, 3625)

Wonder if you can suggest some progressions to play and improvise with in addition to the ones you already present on your site: 251, 1625, 3625, 25. Also, if you can offer some ideas for combining / mixing and matching progressions together in order to come up with interesting stuff.

I really enjoy experimenting with different progression structures rather than just using them within the context of songs. It’s very freeing and a lot of fun to improvise with.

By the way, I’ve really improved as a result of going through your lessons Great stuff. I’m 70 years young and still love learning and playing.

Thanks for you excellent instruction.

Hi Keith,

Good question!

The I-VI-II-V is great because it’s a cycle. As you point out this makes it a very free and fun progression to improvise over.

A variation is to reorder the the chords starting with the II chord, so it would be II-V-I-VI.

Even though you are playing the exact same chords, you will find that your improvised lines will take different shapes and contours.

Perhaps try a pattern in minor tonality…

Here’s another 4 bar repeating pattern or cycle that works in minor keys:

II-7b5 / V7alt / I- I-maj7 / I-7 I-6 / then back to II-7b5 to start again.

It’s basically a minor 251, and the last 2 bars you are adding a minor line cliche.

In G Minor, you would have:

A-7b5 / D7alt / G- G-maj7 / G-7 G-6 /

This can be nice to play around with the modes of the melodic minor.

Over A-7b5, you can play the Locrian natural 2

Over D7alt you can play D altered mode, or D HW Dim

You can also play the G Harmonic Minor Scale over both the A-7b5 and D7alt which is a cool sound. Angular sounding, but nice! Try to outline the characteristic tones from the underlying harmony…

G Harmonic Minor contains: G-A-Bb-C-D-Eb-F#

  • Over the A-7b5, the Eb-D-C work well
  • Over D7b9, the A-G-F#-Eb-D-C all sound great to my ears
  • Over G- in the last 2 bars it’s nice to outline the G- triad with the 9 and major 7th

Finally with the 2 bars of G Minor, play around with the G Jazz Minor Scale, also known as G Melodic Minor (G Dorian with the major 7th, or G Major with a b3… however you want to look at it .) The characteristic note of the mode is the major 7th, so try to accentuate that colour in your lines.

I jotted down some common progressions that can be used for vamps, I’ll dig out the sheet and post it in this thread :slight_smile:

Glad to hear your making progress Keith. We’ll explore more functional harmony in upcoming lessons… it’s the kind of stuff I like to explore in my own time!


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Thank you very much for your detailed and helpful answer. I really appreciate the excellence you provide in your teaching.