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How to Play “Sunday Morning” by Maroon 5

Jordan Leibel  /  Pop/Rock  /  UPDATED Jan 12, 2023

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Maroon 5’s Sunday Morning is a song that every new piano player should learn. It’s going to teach you one of THE essential chord progressions that you’ll encounter all the time as you learn new songs and genres. There’s also a really inventive riff to learn in the song’s breakdown section that’s super fun to play! So let’s take a look at that essential chord progression…

The ii – V – I Progression

The chord progression of this song uses a special chord progression known as the ii – V – I progression. Written in the key of C, that means those chords are going to be Dm – G – C. To make sense of how that chord progression works, all you have to do is count up the major scale, and make triad chords within the key signature of C.

The second note in the C major scale (D) builds into a D minor chord when you apply that triad shape. If you count up five notes in the C scale you’ll land on G, which will create a G major chord with that triad shape. The final  chord of that progression is pretty self explanatory, since it’s just the I chord (C major).  

Seriously guys, this is a great tune for anyone looking to dip their feet into jazz! Up and at em!

Jazzing Things Up

To get that jazzy sound heard in the song, you’re going to want to make these chords into 7th chords. If you add a 7th tone to each chord in the progression, you’ll create different types of 7th chords, simply due to the order of note spaces found within the major scale. With these new notes added into the chords, you’ll now have a Dm7, G7, Cmaj7 progression.

Making Things Even Jazzier!

If you listen closely to the piano part on the recording, you can hear a few additional chord tones that affect how each chord is sounded. So while those 7th chords are more than enough to give you that jazzy sound, you can dive even deeper into that world with some more chord extensions!

Try out a Dm9 chord, consisting of notes F, A, C, and E in the right hand and the D in the bass. Or turn that G7 into a G13 by keeping that E note on top of your G7 chord (if you count up 13 notes from G, you’ll hit an E note an octave above, hence the name ‘G13’. To sound like the chord voicings on the recording, you can finish that progression with a Cadd9 chord, playing E, G, B, D in the right hand while C is played in the bass.  

You know what?  It’s fine. The ii – V – I progression stands up on it’s own anyways

The Breakdown Riff

The other element of this song that’s important to learn is the breakdown section in the middle of the song. It’s an interesting section totally different from the chordal based verse and chorus sections.

It’s kind of a long section, so it’s best to break it down into little chunks when you practice it.  

The section starts with the notes C, Eb, E before moving chromatically down from notes B, Bb, A. The riff then moves to play B, C, GB, C, F# B, C, F F, GG, A, C, C, A and landing back on C.

It’s the kind of riff that looks like a lot on paper, but when you break it down into small movements it becomes much more manageable to learn. Just remember to practice slow and with the metronome for the best results!

Making The Song Your Own

Since Sunday Morning has that classic jazz chord progression, take the time to apply that ii – V – I formula in different keys, since you’ll be using this progression a lot if you’re wanting to dive into jazz music. Don’t be afraid to try out different rhythms or arrangements of the chords either, once you get comfortable with the classic flow of Sunday Morning. Have Fun!

Jordan


Jordan Leibel is passionate about songwriting, improvisation, and helping you become a creative musician! He’s worked as a composer for film, commercial, and theatre projects as well as a session musician and producer for recording work.

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