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I use this sequence of chords, Dmaj7, C#mi7, Emi7, E7, Eaug, Amaj7(A C# G# E), A#5#3 (A F A D), Amaj7 as an introduction for songs "Try a Little Tenderness" and "No, You Don't Know Me." Why does this progression sound acceptable even though it is nowhere in the body of the song (in the key of A)?

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  • How about Dm/A for the next to last chord? A#5#3 is way too complicated a chord symbol for a simple inverted triad… Jul 23, 2022 at 19:39
  • Yes, it is a Dmin chord.
    – Fred
    Jul 23, 2022 at 20:42

1 Answer 1

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TL;DR: The chord progression clearly establishes the key of A major, which is why it works with A major songs even though the progression itself is not in the song.


It helps to look at the end of the progression first. The chord labeled A#5#3 is really just Dmin. So the final three chords are:

Amaj7 Dmin AMaj7 (Imaj7 iv Imaj7), which is a perfectly standard plagal motion establishing the key of A major, which is where the body of the tune lies. A very smooth introduction.

Working back, consider the E7 Eaug Amaj7. This, too, is a very common progression. Essentially it's just V-I, but with the augmented chord interpolated in between, creating chromatic voice leading from the E7 chord's B, through the augmented chord's B#, and then to the A chord's C#.

Moving to the C#min7 Emin7 E7, consider the progression instead as E6 Emin7 E7. Now one can see that E6 and E7 are simply one note different: C# moving to D. The intervening Emin7 chord again provides some chromatic interest by moving from G# to G and then back to G#.

Finally, the beginning of the progression is just IV7 iii7 in A major, which is, again, not so unusual.

So, in short, the entire progression really comes down to an expanded IV V I sequence with some chromatic voice leading between the primary chords. The progression clearly establishes the key of A major, which is where the tune is. The same progression could be transposed to provide an introduction to other songs as well.

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  • The A#3#5 is an Aaug/sus4 chord. It has the notes (A D F). Agree it is the Dmim chord. The D6 is the same as the its relative minor C#mi7, so labling the chords as you have done helps to see the changes that take place as the progression proceeds.
    – Fred
    Jul 23, 2022 at 20:37
  • @Fred I'm glad the answer was helpful. I would certainly appreciate your upvote.
    – Aaron
    Jul 23, 2022 at 21:11
  • I'm new so I gave an upvote but it said I don't have enough credits yet to vote.
    – Fred
    Jul 23, 2022 at 22:24
  • @Fred My mistake. You need four more reputation points before you can upvote.
    – Aaron
    Jul 23, 2022 at 22:34
  • Is it ethical to ask for upvotes..?
    – Tim
    Jul 24, 2022 at 10:01

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