I've been trying to get into jazz, and it's very hard because I do not have access to a teacher right now. I spent this morning studying the ii-V-I progression because I hear it is very common in jazz and this seemed to be the most simple.

I found some very interesting things when I started to really get into it. I wrote down the Root, 3rd, 5th, and 7th of each of the 3 chords and this is what I found:

In the key of C: Dm7-G7-Cmaj7

ii - Dm7 (R m3 M5 m7)

1 3 5 7

V - G7 (R M3 M5 m7)

1 3 5 7

I - Cmaj7 (R M3 M5 M7)

1 3 5 7

Now when I wrote those down, I started to notice patterns. For instance:

- The root note of each chord becomes the 5th of the next chord:
- The D in Dm7 becomes the 5th in the G7
- The G in G7 becomes the 5th in Cmaj7

- The 3rd of each chord becomes the 7th of the next chord
- In Dm7, the 3rd (F) becomes the 7th in G7
- In G7, the 3rd (B) becomes the 7th in Cmaj7

- Lastly, the 7th of each chord is exactly one half step above the net chord's 3rd
- In Dm7, the 7th (C) is one half step above the 3rd of G7 (B)
- In G7th, the 7th (F) is one half step above the 3rd of Cmaj7 (E)

How is this useful?

Well, trying to learn how to comp efficiently, I noticed that when only using the 3rd and 7th of each chord, this tips became very useful.

During the Dm7, I played F and C.
-When it switched to the G7, I knew that I did not have to remove the F because it became the 7th of G7.
-Next, to find the 3rd of G7, all I had to do was move down one half step from Dm7's 7th (C to B)

When switching to Cmaj7

-You do not have to remove the 3rd of G7 (B) because it becomes the 7th of Cmaj7.
- To find the 3rd of Cmaj7, just move one half step down from the G7's 7. (F to E)

      Dm7           G7             Cmaj7                            

By itself it doesn't sound to sweet, but it helps to play the root note of each chord with those notes. If you were in a situation with other instruments and the bass is playing, you obviously wouldn't need the root as much.

Anyway, I know this isn't groundbreaking or anything and that I'm not the first person to find this, but I thought it might be helpful to others. Please feel free to comment or correct any mistakes
Last edited by lemonsquares42 at May 25, 2008,
Stuff that you work out on your own sticks much more. Now, I'd recommend you start constructing lines you can play over them. Check out bopland.org for some examples.
My heart warms every time I see a jazz thread. Nice observations. Now to find even more use for them.

+1 to Nick as well. You want to build up your little lick dictionary. I've been doing that lately and it's fun to come up with little patterns and sequences especially when you start seeing ways to link the things together allowing you to use them over a few bars. That's a good feeling.