Tag Archives: 2 5 1

10 II V I Chord Embellishments – The Ultimate Guide

The most important chord progression in Jazz is probably the II V I. It is every where and we play it all the time. But if we play it all the time then it is also important to have a lot of different ways to play these jazz chords.

In this video I am going to take a look at 10 different ways you can embellish and add some variation to your II V I comping and chord melody playing.

The Examples on the II V I Chord Progression are different ways to use line-clichés, passing chords and secondary dominants.

#1 Stairway To Heaven

The first example is using the descending line-cliche associated with Stairway to Heaven or My Funne Valentine. This way of adding some extra movement and color to a II V I is a great addition to your chord melody or comping vocabulary.

#2 James Bond 

A similar and equally famous idea is this use of the line-cliché on the 5th of the minor chord.

In this example it is working great as a way to add a chromatic approach that lands on the V chord. Usually it is all on Dm and the movement A A# B is related to Dm. Here the B is used as a target and marks the transition to G7.

#3 Diatonic Passing Chords

Adding Diatonic Passing chords is a fantastic way to add movement to a chord progression. Notice that this way of comping the II V I would still work if the bass player is still playing a regular II V I bass line.

The Passing chords are really just adding two chords so that the progression walks up from Dm7 to G7. Looking for step-wise or 4th intervals in the bassline are both strong and common ways to add passing chords like this.

#4 Tritone Substitution

The Tritone substitution is a very powerful way to add some extra tension and color to a II V I cadence. In this example I am substituting a Db7 for the G7 and creating a top-note melody that helps move the progression along.

#5 Tritone II V Progression

Taking the tri-tone idea a step further is to substitute the G7 with a complete II V, so in this case an Abm7 Db7.

The idea is roughly speaking the same as #4 but instead of just using the Db7 it is now a complete II V: Abm7 Db7. 

This example is played as a continuous stream of chords and a great little chromatic inner-voice movement on the Cmaj7

#6 Secondary Dominants

A variation of the Tritone substitution is also to use it as a secondary dominant. In the example below I am using Ab7 to pull towards the G7. So here Ab7 is a tritone substitute of D7, the secondary dominant of G7.

#7 Borrowing Minor Cadence

Modal Interchange is a great way to add color to a cadence. When ever we use a G7(b9) in a II V I in C major it is actually a dominant that is borrowed from C minor.

In this example I am borrowing an entire cadence, so first a bar of Dm7 and then followed by the minor cadence Dø G7 before resolving to Cmaj7

#8 Chromatic Passing Chord

Chromatic Passing Chords are a really useful addition to your comping and chord melody vocabulary.

This example is approaching the G7 from a half-step below. The idea is to have an F#7 at the end of the Dm7 bar that then resolves to G7 in the second bar.

#9 Neapolitan Subdominant

The Neapolitan Subdominant is an overlooked way to color cadences. In this example I am using the Dbmaj7 as a way to add a different color and pull to the Cmaj7.

The Neapolitan Subdominant is a IVm chord with a bII in the bass, so it is Fm/Db. Which is also why it is a (minor) subdominant chord.

#10 Chromatic Resolution

Of course it is also possible to use Chromatic passing chords in the resolution to the I chord. 

This example uses the 2nd half of the G7 bar to introduce a Bmaj7 chord that is then used to create a chromatic approach to Cmaj7.

How To Use This Lesson

The way I think you can benefit from this material is probably to think about how I am playing the examples and try to insert that into your own comping or chord melody using your own voicings and songs.

In the end the best way to learn something new is to insert it into what you already play and use it when you are playing real music

Check out more Comping Ideas

If you want to check out how I comp and many of the ideas I use then check out this lesson on a 5 chorus example on Autumn Leaves:

Autumn Leaves Comping – Lesson

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Minor II V I options – Melodic Minor, Phrygian Chords and Tritone Substitutions

The minor II V I can be a difficult chord progression to play on and have a varied vocabulary on. In this video I am going to go over how you can approach it in several different ways with Phrygian Chords, Melodic minor and Tritone Substitutions.

In the video I will demonstrate the different Minor II V I approaches and talk about how to use them both in terms of comping, voicing choices et and also soloing and arpeggios.

I also talk a bit about what will fit with the melody of a piece.


Content of the video:


0:14 Minor II V I The Progression in this video


0:42 Basic II V I – Demonstration

1:03 Scales, Voicings, extensions

2:31 Arpeggios for a m7b5 chord


4:33 Locrian natural 2/ Locrian #2 – Demonstration

4:54 Melodic minor for m7b5

5:15 Chord voicings for m9(b5)

5:54 How does it fit the melody?

6:48 Arpeggios from Melodic minor


7:50 Tritone sub – Demonstration

8:12 Using a Tritone sub dom7th instead of the IIm7b5

8:26 The progression with these chords

8:56 When does it fit the melody?

9:41 Voicing Options and considerations

9:57 The bonus Blue note!


11:51 Phrygian Chord – Demonstration

12:10 What is a Phrygian Chord

13:19 Comping a Phrygian sound

14:06 Soloing on a Phrygian Chord

14:36 How you can use them and where


14:55 Tritone II V – Demonstration

15:17 Tritone substitution of the entire cadence

16:23 Strategies for soloing over a tritone sub


17:27 Borrowing II from Major – Demonstration

17:49 How it works – modal interchange

18:13 Using the brighter sounding II chord

19:34 Voicing considerations

19:56 Soloing over the borrowed II chord

20:43 Do you have a great reharmonization or scale choice for a minor II V I?


21:26 Like the videos? Support me on Patreon!

II V What?! – How not to resolve a II V I (on purpose) – Modern Jazz Guitar Lesson

Probably you know a lot of choices dominant scales in a II V I, but no matter what you do it will always be the same old II V I chord progression that sounds predictable.
In this video I will go over how you can break up that pattern by suspending the resolution of the I chord. Our ear really expects the dominant to resolve so going somewhere else is one of the most powerful reharmonization techniques.
The video covers how you can get started playing outside by insering IV minor, diminished chords or altered dominant ideas on places where your ear expects resolution not tension. I demonstrate how I use chord substitution in this context with both comping and soloing. The video also discusses how and where you can use this in a reharmonization of a jazz standard. Some of the songs I mention are Stella By Starlight, I Love You and Fly Me To The Moon.


List of contents

0:42 What is a Cadence
1:12 How can we use that to surprise the listener
1:46 #IV diminished Solo
2:03 #IV dim What it does and how it works
3:30 Using this in arranging or comping
3:58 Song example: I Love You
4:34 Song example: Stella By Starlight
5:04 Using Dim suspension when comping
5:36 Song example: Misty
6:30 IV minor Solo
6:48 How IV minor works in a solo context
8:04 Other Iv minor sounds than Melodic minor
8:58 Songs with a IV minor suspension in the melody
9:53 When can you use this suspension on the melody
11:07 Maj7#5 solo
11:24 Maj#5 as a suspension – Using chords to practice
12:59 solo ideas
13:15 In Comping or Reharmonizations
14:06 Song example: Stella By Starlight
14:48 Altered Dominant suspension
15:06 What Altered Dom7th suspension is
16:30 Where this often works the best – Relating it to the form
18:00 VImaj7 solo
18:18 How it works and how I use it.
20:55 Resolve the Maj7 sound and playing difficult modern changes
22:03 Using it to reharmonize standards
23:04 Using Common Progressions in Funny places
23:50 This ReHarmonization series and reinterpreting chords
24:53 Don’t think in scales think in chords and sounds
25:26 Using Standards as reharmonization exercises

Drop2 – Tactics to Create Cutting-Edge Jazz Guitar Harmony

Drop2 voicings is probably one of the most important chord types that we use in jazz guitar. This video is going to demonstrate how you can embellish the melody you play with inner-voice movement and sometimes an extra layer of harmony. 

Exploring ideas like this are great for really understanding how the harmony moves and how each voice is moving. This will give you a great overview of the notes in the chord and also a lot of useful insight in what is possible with a chord voicing.

The Cadence

For this video I will demonstrate the ideas on a II V I in A minor. The basic A minor cadence would be:

Bm7(b5) E7(b9) Am6

Since we use melodic minor on tonic minor chords the A minor chord is an Am6.

The II and V chords are coming out of A harmonic minor.

The basic Drop2 voicings

To begin with it is probably useful to just go over the basic cadences on the top string set. This is shown in all inversions here below:

I have kept the voicings very basic but did opt for using a dim chord for the E7 to have the b9 in the chord.

Adding Extensions and alterations

One possible next step could be to add some more extensions to the chords. This can be done following the ideas that I went over in this lesson: http://jenslarsen.nl/jazz-chord-essentials-drop2-voicings-part-2/

To quickly demonstrate this you can look at the example below:

Here  the Bm7(b5) has an 11 which replaces the 3rd and the E7b9 has an b13 that replaces the 5th. The Am6 has an added 9 where the 9th(B) is replacing the root.

Inner-voices in a Minor Cadence

The first example has a half note top melody moving from A to C and finally B on the Am6(9).

The second highest voice is moving from D up to F on the E7(b9) and on the E7 it makes a small melodic movement with F, G and D. The is voice then resolves to E on the Am6.

On the Am6 the lowest voice travels from 6(F#) chromatically up to the Maj7(G#).

Melodic movement in more parts of the harmony.

In this second example the top note melody is moving on the Bm7(b5) and then the 2nd voice takes over on the E7. The E7 voicing on beat 3 has a #9 and also a #11 suspending the 3rd. The inner voice moves from A# to C and on the C the top note melody takes over and moves from F to G to resolve to the 5th(E) on Am.

On the Am the first voicing is an Am6(Maj7) and there is an inner voice melody travelling from G# to B on the final chord.

Counter Harmony – Counterpoint 2.0

The beginning of the 3rd example has the top note melody moving, similar to what was happening in the 2nd example. 

On the E7 the melody is a high C and under this I move all three voices adding a different layer of harmony. The first voicing is an E7(#9b13) and the idea is to move the #9 down to the b9 via the 9th. The way I do this is by adding B7 on the F# so that there’s a quick B7 passing chord under the sustained C note melody.

From there the E7 is resolved via a dim chord voicing to an Am6. On the Am6 the 2nd voice is moving from the 6th(F#) via the root to the Maj7(G#).


A practical way to learn this

The examples that I went over in this lesson are of course quite dense with innner-voice movement. I made them like this to demonstrate what is possible and to give you some ideas to make your own chord progressions.

When you want to work on this you should probably try either take one of the ideas I use (so one of the chords in the example) and then insert that into your playing. This will make it easier to work on getting used to thinking like this.


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Get the PDF!

You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

Drop2 – Inner-voice movement and Melody – Minor II V I

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics or how I can make the lessons better then please let me know. Leave a comment on the video or  send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you are searching for.

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6 Triads for a Cmaj7 Chord (well 10 actually..)

Using triads to play jazz chords is a great way to get the sound of the chord and have a flexible three note voicing that you can change the extensions and melody on. This video is going over 6 triads that I use for my Cmaj7 voicings and will also demonstrate how you can use them in a II V I cadence in C major. At the end of the video I go over 4 more triads that are a bit tricky to use but also yield more interesting sounds!

Finding the triads

The most important note in a Cmaj7 voicing is probably the major 3rd: E.

If we want to find the triads that can be used it is probably a good idea to just look at what options are available with the diatonic triads that contain an E.

As you can see here below I have written out the triads where E is the 3rd, the root and the 5th. Which gives us C, Em and Am triads. But we can also use the sus4 triads. The second half of the example below are the sus4 triads where E is the root, 5th and 4th.

The Bsus4 is not really diatonic to C major, but is a great sound to use for a Cmaj7(#11) or Lydian sound.

The Tonic triads

The C major triad is of course a good candidate to convey a Cmaj7 sound. The example below shows how that might be used:

The C major is of course lacking a bit of color, but it can still be used. I chose to use it with the E in the melody because if it has  the root in the melody it immediately sounds like the ending of the song.

Em triads – Triad from the 3rd of the chord

A lot of very common Cmaj7 voicings are in fact just Em triads with a C bass note (as I demonstrate in the video) This of course means that yet again the structure from the 3rd of the chord is incredibly useful as a voicing for the chord.

The Am triad – C6 chords

When using the Am triad we don’t actually get a Cmaj7 sound but instead a C6 sound. As you probably already know, the two are interchangeable so this is also a useful triad to have in your vocabulary

Esus4 The super triad

A very rich Tonic sound is the Cmaj7(13) and this is what you get if you use an Esus4 triad to spell out the Cmaj7 as shown here below:

Asus4 The 6/9 upper structure

Using an Asus4 as a Cmaj7 voicing gives you an C6 chord with an added 9. This sound is very common in Bossa Nova and other Brazilian styles but is in general of course also a beautiful sound on a tonic chord and a great alternative to the more common Cmaj7 sounds.

Lydian with a Bsus4

The last sus4 triad is the Bsus4 which is in fact diatonic to G major not C major. Bsus4/C gives us a maj7, 3rd and b5 (or #11) which is a lydian sound.

Combining the triad sounds

Now that we have 6 different ways to play the Cmaj7 chord we can combine them to get a varying set of colors on the tonic chord.

This is shown in the example below where I am first resolving to Asus4 then Am and further on to Esus4. This small move on Cmaj could also be a riff for a song with a period of static Cmaj7.

The second example is starting with a very basic II V voicing set. From there it resolves to C using Asus4, then an inversion of Asus4 that moves up to a Bsus4 and on to Esus4 before it resolves to a Gsus4.

The Gsus4 is a great choice for a Cmaj7 but it is a little more context sensitive as it does not contain an E.

The secret triads

There are four more triads that I often use for voicing a Cmaj7, but these last ones are a litte more difficult to work with because they are more incomplete or very specific in the sound that they convey.

The four triads are shown here below:

The first three are difficult because they don’t contain an E, and the last one is tricky because it has the #5 of C in the voicing.

The beautiful incomplete voicing – Gsus4

In the example here below I am using the Gsus4 triad. The Gsus4 mostly works as a C voicing because the fact that is missing the E is somehow compensated by the C in the voicing.

G/C Upper-structure triads

This voicing is fairly open sounding and not too specific as a Cmaj7 sound. This comes from it only containing the upper part of the chord. One way that it still sounds great as a Cmaj7 voicing is to have it preceded by a G7alt, because the strong pull from the G7 will then automatically make it sound like a resolution.

The Lydian Upper-structure

Another example of only using an upper structure is the D major triad. This triad spells out the 9th, #11 and 13th over the chord. Since we are missing both 3rd and 7th it is not really giving us the sound of the chord, at the same time the Lydian sound is so  heavily represented that it is still fairly clear what is going on.

The Augemented Maj7 – E/C

In this last example the chord sound is actually altered, but since it is by now a very common sound I chose to include it anyway. The E major triad is in fact a Cmaj7#5 without a C, so it is in that respect a very clear sound. That said you should probably be a bit careful with what is going on in the music before you start using this sound.

How to use these 10 triads

This exercise is mostly and overview of what triads you have available as voicings but it should give you some idea on what you can try to use. 

You probably want to spend some time with each one that you want to get into your vocabulary and work on them one at a time to get used to how they work in different contexts.

This can ofcourse also be applied to solos, so maybe that is something to do a video on at some point.

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Get the PDF!

You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

6 Triad Voicings for Cmaj7

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics or how I can make the lessons better then please let me know. Leave a comment on the video or  send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you are searching for.

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Instagram,Twitter Google+ or Facebook to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.

Vlog: How many ways can you Reharmonize a II-V-I in C major?

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.

List of contents:

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?