[Sheet Music]

Lesson 53: Guide-Tones


Guide-tones are the third and the seventh of a given chord. The guide-tones are important because they determine the character of the chord - if it is major or minor and if it has a major or a minor seventh.

The II-V-I Progression

In the II-V-I progression the root progression is down a perfect fifth ( up a perfect fourth). It is important that the third of one chord becomes the seventh of the next and the seventh becomes the third:

I have written down a number of different ways to voice the II-V-I progression. Check out my II-V-I voicings, II-V-I voicings, page 2 - note the movement of the guide-tones!

Guide-Tone Lines

In longer chord progressions, it is important to pay attention to the guide-tones lines. Here is an example progression, the very common I-VI-II-V progression, which contains a II-V-I progression:

Sometimes it is necessary to jump up at some point in the progression, in order to allow for the guide-tone line to fall smoothly. The following progression is from Don't Know Why by Jesse Harris ( from Norah Jones' Come Away with Me):

Guide-Tones and Improvisation

It is important to be able to bring out the guide-tones when improvising. Especially when soloing over rapidly moving changes, it can do wonders if you are able to land on guide-tones at critical spots.

2005 Tomas Karlsson. All rights reserved.