18 June 2008

Beginner Guitar Chord Progressions: ii-V-I

This post in the guitar chord progressions series shows you how you can use the 2nd chord of the major key.

The 2nd chord of the major key is notated as 'ii' in Roman numerals. If you have been following the series you will know that this indicates a minor chord.

The examples below use the minor 2nd chord in the key of G. This key is easy to play with only open position chords.

The ii chord is most commonly used in a progression known as ii-V-I, the minor second chord followed by the 5th chord and then back to the root chord of the key. This progression gives the impression of "coming home" on the I chord. The progression is very popular in jazz music and is also found in other popular music forms.

Here are some example progressions in the key of G. Strum each chord four times before moving on to the next. At the end of the progression, denoted by the double bar symbol '||' return to the beginning and keep playing in a loop.

Example 1

|| I | ii | V | I ||

|| G | Am | D | G ||

This simple progression uses just the ii, V and I chords in a cycle.

Example 2

|| I | ii/V | I | V ||

|| G | Am/D | G | D ||

Example 2 uses the ii and V chords with some quicker chord changes. Play each chord for two strums in the second bar. This progression has a faster movement.

Example 3

|| vi | ii | V | I ||

|| Em | Am | D | G ||

Example 3 combines the ii chord with another minor chord, the vi chord to create a more complex harmony.

When you are comfortable with the examples you can try playing them in the key of D. The ii chord in this key is Em. If you don't know how to play the B minor chord you can skip example 3 in D.

A great beginner song with the ii chord in it is Bob Dylan's "Knockin' On Heaven's Door". The verse and chorus use the same progression based on the I, ii, IV and V chords.

| G | D | Am | Am |
| G | D | C | C |


More from the chord progressions series...

Chord progressions in G major
Chord progressions in A major
The minor 6th chord


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