How many ways can you Reharmonize a II-V-I in C major? - Modernize your chord progressions

How many ways can you Reharmonize a II-V-I in C major? – Modernize your chord progressions



The II-V-I is at the center of almost all jazz harmony. In this lesson I set out to try and see a big set of the possibilites you have in reharmonizing a II V I and make a long list of possible chord substitutions. The Jazz Theory that I mostly apply to the II V I cord progression in this reharm lesson is classical or functional harmony. The approach I mostly use. In the later options I also rely on some modal interchange and more freely associated jazz chord substitutions.

0:59 Different sounds on G7
6:09 Tritone substitution
7:59 IV minor chords
15:45 V minor chords
16:28 Diatonic substitution from the Altered Scale
17:45 Diatonic substitution with Tri-tone subs
18:59 Other Dominants from the Diminished scale
19:14 Dominant derived from the diminished scale
19:58 Combining substitutions and getting far out
22:30 Did I miss a good substitution?

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25 thoughts on “How many ways can you Reharmonize a II-V-I in C major? – Modernize your chord progressions

  1. Hello I tried to use
    D-7 G-7 CΔ

    D-7 BbΔ CΔ

    but it didn´t feel like a II V I to CMaj7, it felt like a VI II V and VI IV V, like I was in FMaj7 and not in CMaj7, what do you think?

  2. Serious question, it's at the heart of modern music: Are all these alterations and re-harmonizations equal and arbitrary, or is there something like a coherent, comprehensable and communicable framework, an aesthetic hierarchy for choosing when to use what? Voice leading, yes, but that's always been vague to me as a guitarist. I came to notice that all these re-harmonizations feel pretty neutral against each other, when the I is a maj7 or minor7 chord. When seeing the I as a maj6 or min6 chord instead, like in "gypsie jazz" and any early broadway standard, that's a whole different story altogether, all of the sudden the choices of colour matter a lot more. Imo 6th chords are the foundation of jazz, because only with them there is a stable ground for aesthetic colouring along the way back home. We can choose how to walk across the rainbow, but we can't arbitrarily spill colours on a canvas and call it a rainbow, at least if we agree that a rainbow is a thing. Major7 chords don't sound resolved, major6 chords do. So are we going to everlastingly float in confusion, or are we going to re-discover all the wisdom about harmony, aesthetics and playful adherence to the principles of nature, that was thrown overboard by the modern age? Ok, now it's not a question anymore, more of a statement that I only made to make up my mind about this observation. Sorry, I didn't mean to be disrespectful.

  3. Hello, can you show me how can to do a chord melody with each chord just like in 10:25 it sounds beautiful. Anyway great video 😃

  4. Question for you Mr. Larsen. Would you be willing to make a similar video for minor 2 5 1s?

    I just wrote all of these down 🙂

  5. This is possibly the most concise and understandable way I have seen substitutions presented. Big thanks for this! ❤️

  6. This might be weird but I like to use biii7 chords in 3rd inversion as a dominant sound. So in Cmaj, resolve a Ebm7/Db to Cmaj7 or better, C69

  7. At 2:33, If you “borrow” the dominant from the relative minor(Em), that’s B7. I see the flat 13 (Eb)but not any flat 9 (Ab) as you say.

  8. I tried to watch this, I really did. But is it a case of who's got the biggest pony tail? Yep you win, maybe you should call this how many ways can you Reharmonize I'm a great Jazz guitarist and that's it?

  9. I have been using all the chords from Melodic Minor In place of the Dominant. I know you know this. I really Like the sound.

  10. I use the 7th sus4 b9 a lot. It's one of those chords that can be used to create a sort a feeling of desolation. Also the dom Bb 9 with the 9 in the base to desolve into C7 (using C7 as tonic) Hope it makes sense, it sounds alright. Also i force myself to use many inversions in combination with root possitions as to smoothen a progression. But i haven't yet covered the inversion of extended/altered chords. Slowly recovering from a severe burnout. Your lessons are short, yet very valuable , they keep me motivated. So thank you very much for sharing your knowledge and insight.

  11. Personal taste question: Do you normally use Lydian Dominant (1/2 above) as an implied substitution? So let’s say a Bb blues I-IV, do you commonly use E LD to lead you to the (Eb7) IV?

  12. Thank you so very much, Jens. I've written down all of these substitutions and counted at least 31, which is amazing. Thanks again, Jens – you sure deserve a lot of recognition for all of your videos.

  13. Another lesson for a mini book…! The subject of chord substitutions fascinates me, I'll take the two hour version any time, (in chapters… 😎). Thank you as always!

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