Today’s piano exploration

I played for about two and a quarter hours. I accomplished a few things: I discovered something about jazz chord sequences, and I wrote another tune.

I’ll start by talking about the jazz chord sequences. Some time ago, I searched the Internet for “common jazz chord sequences.” I found one that I liked:

CM7 CMm7 FM7/C FMm7/C | BM7 BMm7 EM7/B♭ EMm7/B | A♭M7 etc.

Here are the functions of those chords:

  1. IM7,
  2. IMm7,
  3. IVM7 in second inversion,
  4. IVMm7 in second inversion which modulates to a VMm7 chord,
  5. resolve down to the new IM7 chord, and then
  6. go to step 2 (repeat ad infinitum).

But what I realized today is that it’s a simplified version of the ubiquitous iim7 VMm7 IM7 jazz chord sequence. It’s just missing the iim7. And when I realized that, I thought that maybe the ii V I itself might be a compressed version of a more elaborate, expanded chord sequence. So I messed around on the piano, playing various chords in succession and deciding which ones sounded okay. I came up with a chord sequence where each chord is connected through just one note moving down a half step—I’ve decided to call this the “expanded form” of the ii V I progression. There are probably other slightly different expanded forms, depending on what order you choose. I of course avoided any progressions that involved a minor 2nd interval because it sounds ugly, and I also avoided weird chords like the minor-major-seventh—but even excluding those situations, I’m sure there are many slight variations on this. I’ll have to think on it for a bit longer.

Here’s the “expanded” ii V I sequence in C. The chords are as follows:

CM7 CMm7 Cm7 | Am75/C Cdim7 FMm7/C | Dm7/C Bm75 | BM7

Separately, I came up with a tune that I thought sounded nice, so I recorded it. An interesting thing about this tune is that it ends with a modulation one fifth downwards (e.g., if it was in C then now it’s in F). I played it in the twelve keys for fun.

The chords (assuming it’s in C, which it begins in) are as follows:

||: CM7 FM7 :|| AM7 BM7 C9 | AM7 GM7 FM7

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