The 2-5-1 Chord Progression (Jazz Piano 101)

Lisa Witt  /  Musical Genres / Dec 21

The Ultimate Online
Piano Lessons Experience

Click Here »

Do you love jazz and the rich sounds of 7th chords? Then you need to learn the 2-5-1 progression. This progression is a staple in jazz music and will sound familiar to you as soon as you hear it!

The progression is built up of only 3 chords based on the 2nd, 5th, and 1st intervals of the scale. If you are playing in the key of C you will play a Dm7 G7 and Cmaj7.  Playing the 2 chord using its 2nd inversion will help you move between the progression very smoothly so try playing these chords as follows

  • Dm7 is D-F-A-C (root)
  • G7: D-F-G-B (2nd Inversion)
  • Cmaj7: C-E-G-B (root)

If you are new to 7th chords and jazz sounds I suggest you spend some time playing each of these chords on its own until you are comfortable with it. You can play them in broken and solid form, using inversions up and down to help get really comfortable with the chords. Once you are feeling great with these shapes play them as a progression. There are lots of ways to do this.  You can play chords in both hands, You can play the chord left hand only and then use your right hand to play riffs or melody OR you can play the chords in your right hand while you left-hand plays a simple accompaniment based on the root note.


Lisa Witt has been teaching piano for 19 years and in that time has helped hundreds of students learn to play the songs they love. Lisa received classical piano training through the Royal Conservatory of Music, but she has since embraced popular music and playing by ear in order to accompany herself and others.

Save up to 84% on lessons,
accessories, and merch!