Chord Progressions

Hello! I am composing as part of my practice and finally getting around to 2-5-1 and 1-5-6-4 progressions. I’m unable to find any information or chord charts on these. I don’t want to limit myself by doing just one bar of each all the time; can anyone with experience playing these weigh in on what a chord chart for a typical song looks like for these? For example a 12 bar 1-4-5 they are always 4x, 2x2x, 1x1x2x or some variation.

The system always works in this same way. There are always 4 bars of the 1 chord to start. Bars 5 and 6 are always the 4 chord. Bars 7 and 8 are always the 1 chord again.

Bars 9 and 10 are always a pairing of the 5 and 4 chord before ending on two bars of the 1 chord.

There are sometimes some variations where you may insert an additional 5 chord into the 2nd or 12th bar, but for the most part, it follows this system.

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For 2-5-1 look for a jazz breakdown/analysis of a standard like autumn leaves.

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Here are some fun ones from popular tunes:

| 2 | 5 | 2 | 5 | 2 | 5 | 1 | 1 |

| 2 5 | 1 |

| 2 | 5 | 1 | 1 |

The 1-5-6-4 can be turned in any way and has a different feeling depending on where you start.
Try these (and feel free to lengthen or shorten the duration of these - they tend to work best when they’re all given equal time - that’s what creates the hypnotic, infinite majesty of the perfect pop chord progression)

| 6 | 4 | 1 | 5 |

| 4 | 1 | 5 | 6 |

| 5 | 6 | 1 | 4 |

What will make any of these come to life will be:

  • the groove/feel/genre you play it in
  • the melody that will tie the chords together.

Chord progressions don’t exist by themselves. They exist because they were the chords that the composer used to back up the melody.
So it’s nice if you have a melody in mind.

One very great way to practice melody over your bass lines (and full credit goes to @JoshFossgreen here) is to grab a kazoo.
You can kazoo your melodies on the kazoo - hands free! - while you’re playing. The kazoo is:
1 - awesome
2 - not your voice, so hopefully it doesn’t trigger the “I can’t sing” anxieties people have
3 - great ear training practice to see if you can hear and realize melodic lines over bass lines and chord progressions

Hope this is helpful.


Thanks! This is exactly the information I was looking for. Interesting idea for the kazoo, I’ll definitely consider it. :eyes:

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