In Part 2 we discussed how the minor II-V-I progression presents the player with a lot of different options and opportunities to be creative with voicings and chord choices. In this lesson we will look at a few methods of creating variety and build our options for minor II-V-I chord voicings.
First, let’s first look at a few characteristics of the minor II-V-I which don’t change, assuming the chord progression is strictly a minor II-V-I without any substitutions or alterations.
- The II chord will be a minor 7th with a b5
- The V chord will be a dominant 7th chord, which has a major 3rd and minor 7th
- The I chord will have a minor 3rd, and will function as a minor type chord
There are several characteristics which can change and are up to the player to decide.
- The II chord is often played rootless, with an added 11th (example 1 below)
- The V chord often has an altered 9th (flat or sharp 9th)
- The I chord is frequently played without a 7th. Though the 7th is fine to play on the I chord, the type of 7th (major, minor, or diminished/6th) is variable and up to the player in the moment (listen to the melody)
- Often, notes are omitted (examples 3 and 4 below) to thin out the texture and retain the character of the progression.
In the top examples, the 11th is replacing the root in the II chord, and the V chord uses a b13th, which are both different from our II-V-I pattern from Part 2. Notice the raise in dissonance level on the II chord in this version of the progression.
The bottom example uses 3-note voicings for a thinner texture. This is an excellent strategy which allows for some contrary motion in the outer voices. The V chord in these examples uses the #9th, which is a great choice in some situations. Remember to take the melody into account when choosing your left hand voicings.