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Non-diatonic progressions in non-jazz music

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by belzebass, Jul 14, 2014.

  1. belzebass


    Feb 21, 2012

    We're flying to diatonic and beyond!!!

    Actually beyond :)

    Here one I've stumbled on a non-diatonic progression in a pop song and I don't understand how it works :-\ :

    i | V | bIII | IV V :|| (or in key of A : Am | E | C | D E :|| )

    Could you please explain it?

    More generally, I'm looking for some examples on non-diatonic (containing chord notes out of major scale) chord progressions in pop, soul or rock. Rather simple 3 or 4 chord progression, used as song basis, and that are not diatonic.

    They sound hip. I like it :)

  2. If your bass line has only roots or roots and fifths you are voicing power chords which are neither major or minor, as they have no 3, therefore as long as you take the following accepted chord movement into account your going to sound OK.

    • i's can move anywhere they want in the progression.
    • V are the dominant chord in the progression and normally want to resolve and move to the tonic i or I. But, in this case....
    • bIII - you took it to the III and the III is a move somewhere chord, i.e. in this case it's working like a sus chord or passing chord moving to somewhere..
    • IV is somewhere -- IV is the sub-dominant chord and wants to move to a dominant chord.
    • V is the dominant chord the IV is looking for.
    The rest of the story:

    • I chord can move anywhere in the progression it wants to, however, if you go to the I chord you resolve any tension you have built up so the question then is do you want to return to rest and start the tension movement over?
    • ii chord is a sub-dominant chord and wants to move to a dominant chord.
    • iii is a move somewhere chord. Like in a turn-a-round iii-vi-ii-V7-I.
    • IV is another sub-dominant chord and it too wants to move to a dominant chord. As both the ii and IV have the same task in life they can sub for each other.
    • V is the dominant chord and it's task in life is to move to the I tonic chord. When you add the b7 and make a V7 chord it wants to resolve to the tonic chord RIGHT NOW.
    • vi wants to move to a sub-dominant chord it normally works in tandem with the iii, i.e. iii-vi....
    • vii is the diminished chord and as such it functions as the leading tone - or movement chord much like the iii. IN addition it is another dominant chord. As a dominant chord it wants to resolve to the tonic I. It however, is in no hurry to do so and is used as a move somewhere chord or the take off chord in a turn-a-round; vii-iii-vi-ii-V7-I. So if you want to get to the tonic chord right now use the V7, and if you want to move somewhere first use the vii chord. Both being dominant chords they too can sub for each other.
    Then up pops that sound good thing. If it sounds good it is good. OK that takes care of movement, harmonization is next. The chords under a melody need to share some of the active melody notes. When the active melody line and the active harmony line share like notes you get harmonization, i.e. you sound good.

    The songwriter takes all this into account when writing the song. All we have to do is play the chords in the order the songwriter placed them. If you are the songwriter, well there are several more things that need to be brought into the picture..... Lyrics, verse structure, rhythm, etc. Songwriting is another study in itself. But, that's what I like about music, i's something that will keep me occupied for the rest of my life. :thumbsup:

    One more thing to take into account; in simple songs the minor chords are sometime shown as major chords, i.e. the songwriter for one reason or another just lists them as all major chords -- and if played as power chords it works out OK.
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2014
  3. Seems like the progression is basically a vamp: ||: Am | E7 :||

    The C subs for the Am and the D is a 2 beat passing chord.
  4. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    scratch that I was wrong.
    If the chords aren't power chords I agree with angryclown
    If they are power chords than it's all perfectly A minor.
  5. Tupac


    May 5, 2011
    How about an audio example?
  6. Ewo

    Ewo a/k/a Steve Cooper Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Huntington WV
    The only chromaticism I'm seeing in that sequence of _triads_ is playing with G (in the C triad)and G# (in the E triad). The A dorian scale includes all the notes in those chords but the G# (in the E chord). And in minor keys the ascending melodic minor scale would include the leading tone (G#), anyway.

    It doesn't seem all that outside to me.
  7. belzebass


    Feb 21, 2012
    Those are not power-chords :)
    I think there's F# in the melody over the D chord, while the E7 chord is major to make better movement from D to E and create a stronger pull to the tonic.

    We're going back, way back :

    I don't know if it's in Am, but it's the progression
  8. Bainbridge


    Oct 28, 2012
    Yeah, dude. That's a diatonic progression.
  9. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    It's A min Dorian with the v min modified to a V7
  10. Ewo

    Ewo a/k/a Steve Cooper Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Huntington WV
    Yeah. That's how I see it. Again, the leading tone (G#) is part of the ascending A melodic minor scale, anyway. It's really not outside, at all.

    The progression is diatonic, in that every note in those triads (with the exception of the G#) is part of a G major scale. And A dorian (built on the second degree) is one of the most common modes of G major. (Again, I'm seeing the G# in the E chord as a chromatic alteration. Not uncommon.)
  11. belzebass


    Feb 21, 2012
    Actually, I was looking for common non-diatonic chord sequences that can be found in pop or rock (no jazz, metal nor progressive).
    I'm learning to navigate and use non-diatonic stuff in songs :)

    The one popping up regularly is "IV - iv - I".

    Any other frequent chord progression fragments?
  12. Ewo

    Ewo a/k/a Steve Cooper Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Huntington WV
    Sounds like what you're looking for would be changes that give some sort of chromatic motion in the inner parts. So, yeah, in a major key IV - iv - I would give a descending line from the sixth scale degree to flatted sixth to the fifth degree.

    How about I7 - bIII - IV7? Pretty common for tunes to make the third of the key center ambiguous (major, minor).

    Added: Heck, how about the Louie, Louie progression? I7 - IV - v7. The dominant chord is minor.
  13. belzebass


    Feb 21, 2012
    That's exacly what I'm looking for. Those things sound fresh, and don't sound out. Like a little hook phrase. Especially if the melody is through the same chromatism
  14. Ewo

    Ewo a/k/a Steve Cooper Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Huntington WV
    I've always dug Imaj7 - Vmin7 moves, personally...
  15. Real Soon

    Real Soon

    Aug 15, 2013
    Atlanta, GA
    Pharrell uses some of what amounts to Debussy-style chromatic planing in some of his stuff. The changes on the bridge to Frontin', if I recall, are two times thru of b min, d min, f min, c min. Simple, but sliding up the minor thirds sure makes for a cool sound. [crappy quality vid]
  16. Ewo

    Ewo a/k/a Steve Cooper Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Huntington WV
    Ah! Speaking of Pharrell, the chorus in Happy plays around with min/major 3rd in the key center.

    bVI (has minor 3rd of key as its fifth) - V - I (with its major 3rd).
  17. belzebass


    Feb 21, 2012
    Yay, that's exactly xwhat I was looking for.
    Here's 2 somewhat edgy progressions (same song verse and chorus) outlining 5-b5-5 mouvement:
    I - V - VII - iii
    I - V - II - iii

  18. Lownote38


    Aug 8, 2013
    Nashville, TN
    Louie, Louie? The five is a V7. It's major. It's a 1-4-5 standard blues/rock progression. It isn't diatonic though.
  19. Ewo

    Ewo a/k/a Steve Cooper Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Huntington WV
    Vm7, no? And IV7, IIRC. But I might not...
  20. Lownote38


    Aug 8, 2013
    Nashville, TN
    A "V" with a minor 7 is charted as V7 (a major triad with a flat 7). You wrote it as v7 originally which tells me it's a minor triad because the "v" is lower case.

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