What are the most common jazz progressions?

Jazz Progressions


Jazz is a genre of music that originated in African American communities, primarily in New Orleans, Louisiana, at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. It is characterized by its improvisation, syncopated rhythms, and the use of various musical forms such as the blues, swing, and bebop.

Jazz music is known for its spontaneity and the ability of musicians to improvise and create new melodies and harmonies on the spot. It is also known for its use of syncopated rhythms, which create a sense of forward momentum and energy in the music.

Jazz has also been a genre that has been open to influences of other cultures, particularly African rhythms and European harmony. This has made Jazz a very diverse genre that has many sub-genres such as Swing, Bebop, Cool Jazz, Hard Bop, Latin Jazz, Fusion, and many more.

Jazz has had a significant impact on other genres of music, particularly popular music. Jazz musicians, such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Miles Davis, have become iconic figures in the history of music, and their music continues to be popular and influential today.

Jazz theory is the study of the harmonic, melodic, and rhythmic principles of jazz music. It encompasses a wide range of topics such as chord progressions, scales, improvisation, and harmony. Understanding jazz theory can help musicians understand how to create new and interesting melodies and harmonies, as well as how to improvise and interact with other musicians in a jazz ensemble.

One of the key elements of jazz is the use of improvisation, and jazz theory helps musicians understand how to create solos and improvise over chord progressions. Jazz musicians often use scales, such as the bebop scale and pentatonic scale, as well as arpeggios and chromaticism, to create their solos. They also use techniques such as phrasing, swing, and syncopation to add interest and variety to their playing.

Jazz theory also includes the study of harmony, including the use of chords, chord voicings, and chord substitutions. Jazz musicians often use extended chords, such as 9th, 11th, and 13th chords, as well as non-diatonic chords, to create tension and release in their music.

Here are a few steps you can follow to create a jazz melody in an online DAW (digital audio workstation):

Choose a chord progression: Start by choosing a chord progression that you want to use as the foundation for your melody. You can use one of the common jazz progressions: ii-V-I progression: This progression is used frequently in jazz and is made up of the chords of the second scale degree (ii), the fifth scale degree (V), and the first scale degree (I). For example, in the key of C, the ii-V-I progression would be Dmin-G7-C.

I-vi-ii-V progression: This progression is similar to the ii-V-I progression but it starts with the tonic chord (I). It’s often used in jazz, for example in the key of C: C-Am-Dm-G7

ii-vi-I progression: This progression is made up of the chords of the second scale degree (ii), the sixth scale degree (vi), and the first scale degree (I). For example, in the key of C, the ii-vi-I progression would be Dm-Am-C

iii-vi-ii-V progression: This progression starts with the third scale degree (iii) instead of the tonic (I), it’s a variation of ii-V-I progression. For example, in the key of C, the iii-vi-ii-V progression would be Em-Am-Dm-G7

ii-V-I progression in different inversions: In jazz, it’s not uncommon to use different inversions of chords to create different voicings and movements, by using different inversions of ii-V-I progression you can create new harmonic possibilities.

It’s worth noting that these are just a few examples of jazz chord progressions and there are many more out there. These are some of the most common and you can find many more in jazz standards and jazz theory books.

Choose a scale: Once you have your chord progression, you’ll want to choose a scale that will work well over the chords. For example, if your progression is in the key of C, you might choose to use the C major scale or the C pentatonic scale.

Experiment with different melodies: Using your chosen scale, experiment with different melodies by playing around with different notes and rhythms. Try to create a melody that complements the chords of your progression and creates a sense of tension and release.

Use jazz phrasing and articulation: Jazz melodies often use specific phrasing and articulation techniques such as syncopation, slides, and bends to add interest and character to the melody.

Record your melody: Once you have a melody you like, record it using your DAW’s MIDI recording function. This will allow you to edit and fine-tune your melody as needed.

Add harmony: You can add harmony to your melody by layering different instruments or using chords to complement the melody. You can experiment with different voicings and inversions to create different textures.

Add rhythm: Finally, you’ll want to add rhythm to your melody by adding drums an

It’s worth noting that jazz melody composition is a complex process, and these steps are just a starting point. Practice, experimentation, and listening to jazz music are key to improving your skills and understanding of jazz melody composition.

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