The II, V, I chord progression is very common in music. Each one of these chords is related to one of the basic functions: II is related to subdominant, V to dominant and I to tonic.

Bach’s Prelude BWV 846 from the first book of The Well-Tempered Clavier seems to be a set of variations of this progression. It is also an excellent example of voice leading using major, minor, diminished seventh chords and inversions.

The progression is presented in the first four measures:

Chris Breemer, piano. Recording courtesy of Chris Breemer and Piano Society

Many jazz standards can be analyzed by identifying the II-V-I progressions. Miles Davis, Tune Up's is a good example:

Chord:   Em7 A7 DMaj7   Dm7 G7 CMaj7   Cm7 F7 BbMaj7
Function and key: D major: ii V I C major: ii V I Bb major: ii V I

© 2017 José Rodríguez Alvira. Published by


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