2-5-1 chord progression

What is a 2-5-1 chord progression? The 2-5-1 chord progression is a very common and strong sequence of chords, mainly used for ending songs or musical fragments. Now common in pop music, this chord progression has its roots in the classical music tradition. In music theory the 2-5-1 chord progression is called cadence. 

Roman numerals 

The numbers 2, 5 and 1 refer to the positions on a musical scale. In music theory, chords are indicated by the following Roman numerals: I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII. These numerals refer to notes on a musical scale. For instance, the Roman numerals accompanying the C major scale are:

C major scale chord progression

C major scale

Depending on different scales the Roman numerals denote different chords. So let’s say we are looking for the 2-5-1 chord progression in the key of C.

First step: Find the notes. 

2-5-1 chord progression for C

2-5-1 chord progression for C

The next step will be constructing chords which are based on these notes. For the C scale for example, this comes down to Dm G C.

Here are few examples of 2-5-1 chord progression in other keys:

Gm – C – F

Bm – E – A

Cm – F – Bb

Em – A – D

Related to 2-5-1 chord progression:

The Music Dictionary on chord progression 

Playing smoother by memorizing chord progression roots (key of C and key of E)

Memorize chord progressions roots and tabs (key of D and key of A)

An introduction to chord progressions on piano 

School of rock — principles to improve your rock ’n’ roll jams

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