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D C Bb, Does this progression belong

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by photogdude, Dec 22, 2016.

  1. photogdude

    photogdude ustonsucs Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2010
    Houston, Tx
    He's playing it all majors chords.
    The guitarist wrote a song with this progression, What Scale/mode does this belong....or does it belong to anything?
  2. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    central NY state
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    Not in a traditional key, you don't get three major chords a whole step apart like that. Nirvana did this kind of stuff all the time. It may actually have a key, though, would have to hear the melody line. It might effectively be in D minor with the D minor hacked to a major (but again, what does the melody imply?)
  3. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Sounds like something AC/DC would do.
  4. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    A. What sounds like "home"? Between the melody and the harmony (the chords) there's probably going to be a place that it wants to rest at. That's the overall key.
    B. What to play? Easy, figure out the notes in each chord and see how they go together and what sets them apart.

    See, your job as bassist is two-fold (and BOTH are EQUALLY important so ignore the doffuses who say the rhythm is paramount). Those two jobs are to tie the purely rhythmic parts (e.g. percussion) to the harmonic/melodic parts AND to define the harmony. So if you don't know the chord tones you are severely limiting your opportunity to define that harmony.

    It's frequently NOT about scales, and even less often about modes in real music. It's the flow and what sound right. So start with chord tones to construct the basis of the line. See where it varies- you've got an F# and F natural in the chords. Those are important colors. Start there.
  5. MCS4


    Sep 26, 2012
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    Does it sound good?
  6. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    D5-C5-Bb5 is a common rock chord progression. These are "power chords" consisting of the root, 5th, and, sometimes, octave, but do not contain a 3rd that define the chord as major or minor. So, D5=D+A, C5=C+G, and Bb5=Bb+F.

    Okay, enough theory. Back to your guitarist's song. I think there are basically three possibilities:

    1. The guitarist heard this popular and beloved chord progression on the radio and wanted to use the same progression for his song. But, he doesn't understand power chords, and so he is playing all the chords as major chords.
    2. The guitarist is, in fact, playing root-5th power chords, but you are mishearing them as major chords.
    3. The guitarist has indeed decided to put his own variation on a popular chord progression by making all the chords major in quality. This is an example of a "non diatonic" chord progression, meaning that all chords do not "fit" with one major key.
    It is a common wookie mistake to think that songs must be diatonic, meaning that every note must "fit" or "belong" to the same key. In actual fact, music doesn't work that way at all. Most of the music we know and love contains non diatonic chords or melody notes that deviate from the key signature. This is how we write emotional and interesting songs that don't sound like they were written by a computer. :)
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2016
  7. b/o 402

    b/o 402

    Jul 14, 2015
    DC & RVA
    MCF and Leo Smith like this.
  8. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    just repeating this key point
    -however the 'rules' are still valuable to learn.
    Mushroo likes this.
  9. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    Context? What came before? What comes after? Three isolated chords don't tell us much.
    Ellery likes this.
  10. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013
    I think you have missed our "tempest in a teapot" about those (so called) "three isolated chords".

    That chord progression - i - VIIb - VIb - is quite well-known.
    Guitar Chord Progression - i-VIIb-VIb - Half Spanish (Minor)

    HalfSp.PNG HalfSp-2.PNG
  11. rtav

    rtav Millionaire Stuntman, Half-Jackalope

    Dec 12, 2008
    Chicago, IL
    That chord progression - i - VIIb - VIb - is quite well-known.
    Guitar Chord Progression - i-VIIb-VIb - Half Spanish (Minor)

    HalfSp.PNG HalfSp-2.PNG [/QUOTE]

    It is so popular because it is a great sounding progression but by now (to me - not necessarily to anyone else) it is so overused that it's practically a cliche in popular rock music (and the same progression often begins with another minor chord, especially Dm and Em).
  12. BassFishingInAmerica


    Jul 24, 2014
    You can get away with almost anything using power chords, which omits the 3rd, thereby leaving out any need for minor chords. The chord progression you give - D C Bb, is just a 4th up from the progression A, G, F, which is used at the end of Stairway to Heaven. (Actually Am, G, F, but power chords omits the flatted 3rd on the A chord). So, you would most likely be in the key of Dm.
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2016
    BAG likes this.
  13. BassFishingInAmerica


    Jul 24, 2014
  14. john m

    john m Supporting Member

    Jan 15, 2006
    I think the OP's version would have an A major. That puts a different, non traditional twist on it.
    Major-Major-Major has all parallel movement---- not so nice theory wise,
    But if it works for the song--- it works.
    HolmeBass and Whousedtoplay like this.
  15. Like Duke Ellington. What a doffus he was!
  16. BusyFingers


    Nov 26, 2016
    Thanks for explaining this.
  17. BusyFingers


    Nov 26, 2016
    bholder, onosson, Nev375 and 2 others like this.
  18. Groove Master

    Groove Master

    Apr 22, 2011
    Author of Groove 101, Slap 101 and Technique 101
    Without the melody it is hard to come up with what this is really but I have something for you to try.

    The D to Bb is one of the James Bond theme by the way. The C is a link between them. If you want to stay within the same scale all the way which would sound pretty nice is the use of the G minor melodic scale and its related modes or scales from it. So a melody or a bass line can use this set of notes: G-A-Bb-C-D-E-F#. Start the scales with the roots D, C and Bb. It is still possible to play a Bb-F (I-V) over the Bb chord to straight up the harmony if the G minor melodic scale sounds a bit too jazzy.

    Of course these three chords can imply a dominant7 color or leave the Bb as a straight major. But again the melody would help to dict the color of the chords more precisely.

    Hope this helps
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2016
    HolmeBass and Whousedtoplay like this.
  19. Nickweissmusic

    Nickweissmusic Knows all intervals from one Fred, to Juan octave Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2014
    San Diego, CA
    I teach lessons and perform live music in and around San Diego CA. Sometimes I even make money doing it!
    It's a I, bVII, bVI (one, flat 7, flat 6) progression in the key of D major. The bVII and bVI chords are "borrowed chords," which are chords borrowed from the parallel (not relative) key. Parallel keys are simply the opposite minor or major from the same root note, so in this case, you're in D major, but the borrowed chords are from the parallel key, D minor. So yes, there are more chords "out" the key than "inside," but it's not a particularly dissonant sounding progression. Off the top of my head I can think of the extended ending of "Only the Beginning" by Chicago as an example of it. For soloing, etc., on the I chord you can think D major, on the bVII and bVI, D natural minor and its appropriate modes work. (I = D Ionian, bVII= C Mixolydian, bVI= Bb Lydian).

    That explains the theory. But to make things even more interesting, in Rock and pop music, chords that should use Lydian modes are usually just played as regular old major/Ionian (with no #4). Why? I don't know, It's just a Rock convention, I suspect rock guys just didn't know any better, and that's how it goes now. Unless you're Jerry Garcia, he often used Lydian when called for, that's one reason his solos and noodling sound unique. And of course, there's always the blunt instrument of Rock, the Blues scale/minor pentatonic. That's the easy answer for everything, but since you're asking about the progression, you're obviously looking to step outside that rut, good on ya for doing so.
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2016
  20. Nickweissmusic

    Nickweissmusic Knows all intervals from one Fred, to Juan octave Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2014
    San Diego, CA
    I teach lessons and perform live music in and around San Diego CA. Sometimes I even make money doing it!
    Not to be a jerk, but most of the examples you're seeing above are not the same progression, they are the more common i-, bVII, bVI progression (one minor, flat 7, flat 6), all in D minor. If you start the progression in D minor, then you're completely in the key of D minor the whole time, and D natural minor would be the most appropriate parent scale (i-= D Aeolean/natural minor, bVII= C Mixolydian, bVI= Bb Lydian). That is the implied progression from the end of Stairway to Heaven (even though they use power chords, the melody and everything else implies minor), the "half minor Spanish" progression above (I've never heard that term before), and the progression for All Along the Watchtower, among many others.

    Your progression is different, the major I chord is a big difference of course.
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2016
    Whousedtoplay likes this.

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