In this month’s Guitarticle, we’ll be taking “Two Five One” progressions from the harmonic minor scale out for a spin through all twelve keys by route of the Circle of Fifths. The phrase “Two Five One” refers to the notes of a specific scale from which chords are constructed. Therefore it literally means the second, fifth, and first chords in a key built from the . . . you guessed it . . . second, fifth, and first notes of a specific scale.
But why not say, “One, two, and five chords?” You can play these chords in any order you please, but in this very popular progression, the “Two” chord sets up harmonically to precede the “Five” chord, which resolves beautifully to the “One” chord. In the case of the C harmonic minor scale, a “Two-Five-One” ends up being D minor7♭5 (also D half-diminished 7), G dominant 7, and C minor/major7 respectively. The individual notes that make up C Harmonic Minor are: C, D, E♭, F, G, A♭, B, C. This Guitarticle addresses only three of the seven basic seventh chords built from the scale.
The included tabs kick off the ii V i progression in the key of C harmonic minor (measure 1), which then modulates (changes keys) up a perfect fifth to the key of G minor (measure 2). Each measure brings us into a new key. Take note of the similarities between the i chord of the old key and the iim7♭5 chord of the new key. The iim7♭5 of the new key could be viewed as a i6 (minor6th) of the old key. This provides a smooth sounding transition from key to key, through all twelve keys!
I’ve also included several different voicings and fingerings of what is essentially the same three chords played in all twelve keys. You would do well to find the root notes of each of these chord voicings and realize, memorize and hypnotize your friends with them.
The coolest thing about this is that we’ve barely scratched the surface of all things harmonic.
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