Chord Progression

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by ZBirdV8, Dec 16, 2012.

  1. ZBirdV8


    Feb 26, 2012
    Detroit Michigan
    I know that if a chord progression is I IV V that means the chords are constructed on the 1st 4th and 5th note of the major scale.

    Could someone present some other useful chord progressions and explain the scales they come from?
  2. a huge lot of chord progressions derive from the major scale.
    if youre into jazz you will find II-V-I often. (eg dm-g-c)
    the best thing to do is listen to some soul recordings. motown especially , stevie wonder for instance, and transcribe those progressions. they are usually more "interesting" than I IV V and II V I and unique to each song. they are millinos of possibilities

    from a major scale, any random combination of : I II III IV V and VI is a legit easy progression
  3. Here is a site that will give you several things that will come in handy.

    The notes of a scale and the chords that can be made from those scale notes, plus some typical chord progressions that are normally used with that key/scale. Note - lower case Roman numbers are minor chords and upper case Roman numbers are major chords.

    Looking down the tunnel and looking for a light switch --- to throw some light on what chords do. A chord progression does two things, 1) move the progression from rest to tension to climax and then resolves and returns back to rest. And then 2) the chords in the progression harmonize the melody being played over them. They do this by sharing some of the notes of the melody in the chord's makeup. Melody revolving around the C and G notes the C chord made of the C, E & G notes makes a good harmonizing candidate, for that specific portion of the melody. This may come in handy.

    Let's set harmonization off to the side and concentrate on movement and how a chord progression does this.

    Any chord made from a specific scale's notes will sound OK with any other chord made from those same notes, i.e. any chord in a specific key is going to sound good with any other chord within that same key. OK that gets sound out of the way, now movement becomes our task.....

    • The I tonic chord is the tonal center of the progression, Lot of times the I chord will start the progression, not all the times, but, as most progressions like to resolve back to rest and have closure, they do this by returning to the I tonic chord to end the verse, or thought, so a new thought can start. Most verses will bring up a thought in the first two lines of the verse, then the next two lines of the verse will react to what was said in the first two lines. My point; a lot of verses will have two V-I cadences in the verse.
    • The ii chord is a sub-dominant chord. It's task in life is to move to a dominant chord --- that is how you will see it placed in most progressions.
    • The iii chord is an important chord in that it dictates if the progression will be major or minor. It's task in life is to move somewhere. In this movement it likes to drag the vi chord with it on the move.
    • The IV chord, like the ii chord is a sub-dominant chord also. It also likes to move to a dominant chord. As both the ii and the IV have the same task they can and do substitute for each other. Begs the question, will you see the ii chord moving to the IV chord? You can, however, in doing so you have not moved the verse anywhere closer to resolution -- so probably will not see a lot of this.
    • The V chord is a dominant chord. It's task in life is to move to the tonic I chord. When you make the V chord into a V7 or dominant seven chord you have increased the tension of the chord and it now wants to move to the I tonic chord - RIGHT NOW. I look upon the V7 chord as the climax chord. Once you have reached climax quickly resolve back to the I tonic and close the verse - so a new verse, i.e. thought can start with the next verse.
    • The vi chord likes to go to a sub-dominant chord.
    • The viidim chord is also a dominant chord and it's task is to move to the I tonic chord. However, it is in no hurry to do so. The Viidim chord like the iii wants to move somewhere and you normally see them connected as in the classic turn-a-round vii-iii-vi-ii-V7-I. So if you want to resolve quickly to the tonic I chord use the V7, however, if you want to eventually get back to the tonic chord, but, are in no hurry - use the viidim (Bm7b5) chord.
    If you want to construct a chord progression - take these "want to traits" into account and you will end up with a pretty good chord progression.

    Now that is only half of the story. The other half is the chords used have to harmonize with the melody, they do this by sharing like notes with the melody. So a chord progression has two tasks;

    1) Movement.
    2) Harmonization.

    Let's just talk about movement here.
  4. Picking a chord progression for your song......

    The following is a basic format you could use to write any song. Use as much of this as you need.

  5. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Columbia SC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    While Malcolm's post is a pretty good, basic overview of diatonic functional harmony, I'd say that trying to understand this piecemeal, over the internet, with a lot of input from folks whose depth of understanding you have no way of assessing, may not be your best course of action. If you can't find a good, competent teacher in your area, there are a number of schools that do either online or correspondence courses in theory, harmony and arranging that will start you off with a good foundation and build on that.

    Just understand, there is a HUGE amount of music out there, from all genres, that is NOT based on functional harmony. The bottom line is that music is an AURAL art, not a literary one.
  6. hgiles


    Nov 8, 2012
    Sit at the piano and play a C chord. The move that same shape up to D....then E...etc. Those are basically the diatonic chords for C.

    Certain chord progressions get their character due to their gravitation pull around the tonic. What appeals to you is going to be subjective. If you hear a tune on the radio with a progression you like, then identify it. Play it, look it up or whatever. Put it in harmonic context so that you can easily identify if you hear or see it again in another key.

    There really aren't that many progressions when you disregard whatever key the tune might be in.
  7. Sloop John D

    Sloop John D

    Jun 29, 2012
    In addition to the I -IV - V blues progression and the ii - V - I Jazz progression, there's I - vi - IV - V, which I believe developed from the doo wop era in the late 50s. It was developed heavily by soul musicians during the 60s, who would use it in conjunction with the I - IV - V progression by using the Doo Wop progression for the verses and the blues progression for the choruses, or vice versa. Check out Sam Cooke's "Twistin' the Night Away" for a good example.

    More recently, a lot of musicians relied on the I - V - vi - IV progression. For a period in the 90s it was difficult to find a song that didn't use this progression. Green Day's "When I Come Around," Semisonic's "Closing Time," and Blink 182's "Dammit" are all examples.

    The Roman Numerals correspond to the scale degrees.

    I - chord starts on the 1st scale degree.

    ii - chord starts on the 2nd, and so on.

    Most of the time, an upper case roman numeral, like I or V, indicates a major chord, while a lower case roman numeral, like ii or vi, indicates a minor chord. A roman numeral that is followed with a small circle or asterisk, like vii*, generally indicates a diminished chord.

    Occasionally you'll see something like bII. The b means the chord is flat, so instead of playing the chord on the 2nd scale degree, you would start it on the note that is half a step below the 2nd scale degree.
  8. ZBirdV8


    Feb 26, 2012
    Detroit Michigan
    I get what I wanted to know now. Thanks.
  9. Rev J

    Rev J

    Jun 14, 2012
    Berkeley, Ca.
    Actually the songs you mention are I-vi-IV-V.

    Check this out:

    Rev J
  10. Rick Robins

    Rick Robins

    Jan 13, 2010
    Las Vegas, NV
    ZeroSymbolic ,
    Not sure of your intent of use , IE : songwriter, session guy, sideman, shredder, etc, etc.
    Though I think diatonic functional harmony is a good place to start in order to be able to figure out when a piece does not fit this formula (& there are many) then to be able to figure or seek out why.

    To answer your request
    “Could someone present some other useful chord progressions & explain the scales they come from? “
    I have tossed a bunch of examples below.
    Regardless of what genre material you may find yourself immersed in I think the following is good to get into your brain & under your fingers. Use your ears & focus on chords/tone/intervals & not scales so much. Since most the links below are from an analysis point of view you will pick up keywords , theory's & methods you may not be aware of. I find this helps in order to seek additional information as to the “Why's & Whats”. Basically all the links below will supply content that you will bump into repeatably regardless of what it is you are doing & help you be able to figure out when the piece you are working on IS NOT.

    A gazzillion examples:
    See the links on the left also.


    Beach Boys:
    See "The Mind of Brian"

    The Beatles:

  11. AMp'D.2play


    Feb 12, 2010
    This thread, compliments of jive1, will give you a bunch of common chord progressions.
  12. I believe Sloop John D is correct. I V vi IV

    I Come Around
    G (I) D (V) Em (vi) C (IV)
  13. Rick Robins

    Rick Robins

    Jan 13, 2010
    Las Vegas, NV
    Correct with a quick slide from C (IV) to D (V) to turn back to G (I)

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