Tag Archives: descending bass line

Refreshing and Easy II V I reharmonization

Rethinking the chords and just adding small details here and there can give you some really beautiful melodic ideas. In this lesson I am going to show you how you can add combine a II V I and a descending bass line cliché that you already know. I will also give you some great lines that demonstrates how this can work in a solo.

Another good feature of this approach is that it ties together the entire movement through the cadence. In that way we have a continues idea that we then resolve. This is a lot stronger than having separate ideas on the II and V that you then resolve to the I chord.

Using a voice movement to connect the melodies

Voice leading may sound like it’s terrible complicated, but in the way we are going to use it in this lesson you will probably find it both easy and familiar. The chord progression that is the foundation for all of this is shown in example 2:

In example 2 I have use a very common C minor bass line cliché and turned it into a II V I in Bb7 by resolving it a Bbmaj7.

You can try for yourself while comping to see how it will fit in most situations. It is also the type of idea that will work without warning the other people in the band.

Turning this progression into II V I licks

The same idea can be translated into a line as shown in the standard bebop lick in example 3:

The line in example 3 is first using the Cm arpeggio. This is followed by a CmMaj7 arpeggio, that continues in to a Bb and a chromatic approach to the 3rd(A) of F7. The line then continues to resolve to Bbmaj7.

This example is really spelling out the chromatically descending line on the strong beats of the bar.

The same idea turned into a less obvious line is shown in example 4:

In this example I am not laying down the descending line on the strong beats and also not keeping them in the same octave. The line does still work quite well though and still makes use of the CmMaj arpeggio. 

Turning the descending line into chords

The descending chromatic line that we have used in the previous examples can of course also be harmonized in a different way. One way to do that is shown in example 5:

So now we are adding a G7 as a dominant to Cm and that is then replacing the CmMaj7. I also changed the F7 to an altered domiantn to get some more tension there. This means that on the weak part of the first bar we have some tension that we can resolve in the second bar. This will work on top of a regular II V as well, though the G7 line may be quite dissonant. 

Lines over the new chord set

The progression in Example 5 is what I used in the line in example 1 (That I played in the beginning of the video).

The first part of the line is a Cm7 arpeggio. On the G7(b9) I am using the arpeggio from the 3rd of the chord: Bdim. This is resolved to Cm7 and on that chord I play a Gm triad. On the final F7 I am using a GbmMaj arpeggio. This is then resolve to the 3rd(D) of Bbmaj7.

Another possibility is to not use a G7(b9) but go for a G7alt. This will still work because the tension of the altered dominants are on the weak part of the bar.

The line is again relying mostly on arpeggios but still sounds quite strong since they are well connected,

I start with the arpeggio from the 3rd of Cm which is an Ebmaj7 arpeggio. On the G7alt I am using the arpeggio from the b7: Fm7b5. This resolves to a Cm triad idea that continues into an altered scale run from the b5 of F7. This is resolved to the 5th of Bb. 

I hope you can use the ideas I went over here to get some new lines and to have one more sound that you can put to use on a II V I, since it is a very common progression.


If you want to study the examples I went over in the lesson you can of course also download them as a pdf here:

Refreshing II V I reharmonization

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