Reharmonizing II V I – breaking all the rules!

Reharmonizing is a great way to get some fresh sounds into your song writing or arranging. Often we find ourselves looking for a new sound that we can throw in there to spice things up and surprise the listener!

In this lesson I am going to show you a way to make substitutions without really thinking about music theory and still come up with some great refreshing chord progressions.

The II V I progression

In this lesson I am going to take this II V I in G major (shown below). I am going to show you how playing the D7 in different ways can be a means of completely rethinking the chord and come up with some other sounds that will work well in it’s place.

The reasons for using a II V I in this lesson is that it is a progression that you are probably familiar with, and if we reharmonize the D7 we have a very logical movement: Am7(home) Chord X (away) Gmaj7 (home)

D7 into F#maj7 

If we take a look at the D7alt voicing below you can probably see that it is in fact a Gbmaj7(b5) with a D in the bass.

If we take the GbMaj7 (b5) and use that instead of the D7 we get this progression:

D7 -> Fm7

Below I have written out a D7alt voicing that is used is a D7(#9b5) chord. The top part of this voicing is an Fm triad. Let’s try to substitute the D7 with an Fm7.

That givs us this progression:

D7 -> Bb7 -> Bbm7

If we look at the D7 in the example below you can see that the top part of it is a 2nd inversion Bb major triad. We could try to substitute the D7 with a Bb7 chord, but since that is a bit close to Fm7, let’s make it into a Bbm7 instead!

Then we have this progression:

Use your imagination and mess around!

This way of thinking and experimenting with harmony is a great way to explore progressions and come up with things you can use in your own arrangements and songs. Figuring out how to solo over it can be a bit of a challenge though :)

If you want to check out the example lines for each ot the reharmonizations that I didn’t include in the video you can do so here below.

I also have a short video of me playing them.

If you want to download the examples I went over here as a pdf you can do so here:

Reharmonizing II V I – breaking all the rules!

If you want to download a Free E-book of 15 II Valt I licks then subscribe to my newsletter: 

Download a free E-book with 15 II Valt I licks!

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