II-V Progression - Minor Edition / Music Theory Lesson

Author: sleepfreaks

Using Non-Primary Minor Chords

This time we will use similar steps from our major key example to use non-primary chords in a minor key.

The contents from this article will help us understand how to naturally use the “VIIdim” “VIIm7b5” chords which were giving us trouble previously as the 7th diatonic chord in a major key.

A very natural use of it was found in “Fly Me to the Moon” from our 25th article.


We will look more into detail on this in a future article.

The information from our previous articles below will be necessary so be sure to brush up on your knowledge.

33. II-V and Dominant to Tonic Motion
49. Scale Degree Names – Natural Minor Edition
50. Primary Chords (Natural Minor) and their Function ①
51. Adding Leading Tones in Natural Minor
52. Cadence and Different Types of Movement (Minor Edition)

Using IIdim (IIm7b5) as a Substitute to IVm (IVm7)

Up until this point, we have looked at cadences using primary chords, but of course, more than 3 chords are used throughout the songs in a minor key.

We mentioned that “other chords can carry similar functions” in our major key article, but this remains true in a minor key as well, through the use of “substitute” chords.

In the major key, we took a look at moving from stablity to develpment, to tension, and back to stability in the common cadence “T→SD→D→T”, and used a substitute chord in the place of the SD.

EX) Key=C Major



From stability, we move to develpment, then tension, and back to stability similar to the first example.
This means that the IIm7 worked as a substitute for the SD.

When we pay attention to the root notes, we can hear that the second example has a stronger pull as a chord progression.
Lets try this out in a minor key as well.

We will use the minor T→SD→D→T progression from our 52nd article as a base.

❇︎ These are all chords made from the tonic, subdominant, and dominant notes so they may be written as T, SD(S), or D as well.

First, lets find the “II” of the minor key.


It’s the area circled in blue in each chart. Lets try utilizing it.
We will be looking at the Key=C minor.


Tm→SDm→Dm→Tm Cm→Fm7→Gm7→Cm


Lets try using the IIm7b5(IIdim) as the substitute chord for the SDm chord.

Tm→SDm(substitute)→Dm→Tm Cm→Dm7b5→Gm7→Cm


Though it isn’t bad, it feels a little lacking.
Lets try using a more “powerful” progression instead.


Tm→SDm→D→Tm Cm→Fm7→G7→Cm


Tm→SDm(substitute)→D→Tm Cm→Dm7b5→G7→Cm


The progression feels more powerful. It is easier to determine the key as well.
When analyzing songs, you will be more likely to find this kind of progression.

The final SD→D→T progressions have a more powerful impression.
If you come across it when analysing music, be sure to take note!

Article Writer: Kazuma Itoh

講師 伊藤
After moving to the USA at 18 years of age with a scholarship from Berklee, he completed a 4 year study focused on song writing and arranging there.
Using this knowledge, he works across a variety of fields from pop music, film music, and more.