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I found this classical chord progression. What are the harmonic functions of these chords, especially the Adim.

1Amin Bdim Amin A Bb Adim Amin E Amin

I got it from here youtube.com/watch?v=zgBPiHTPCdg. The key here is C minor though.

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  • There doesn't always have to be a 'scientific' reasoning behind a chord sequence. And often, the 'reasoning' is man-made anyway. Ever asked why cows moo, but horses don't?!
    – Tim
    Mar 4, 2023 at 13:19
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    I'm just asking for the harmonic functions. Particularly interested in what the Adim is doing here. Not asking you for the meaning of life.
    – MiaLee
    Mar 4, 2023 at 13:55
  • That's an easier one - 42!! Didn't mean to offend. Dim chords often exist to 'change key' or modulate. Doesn't look like it here though...
    – Tim
    Mar 4, 2023 at 15:23
  • Give us some context? Like notation of the whole piece (if you mean the same by 'classical' as I do) or at least point us at a recording? Is this your own analysis, or are you quoting chord symbols? Chord progressions don't HAVE to be 'functional'. Sometimes they just meander around.
    – Laurence
    Mar 4, 2023 at 16:41
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    @MiaLee the video you linked (youtube.com/watch?v=zgBPiHTPCdg) shows the chord progression (which you didn't accurately transpose to Am), with harmonic analysis. Are you asking how viio chords work? Mar 4, 2023 at 19:17

2 Answers 2

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Based on the reference you provided in comments your version of the chords in the key of A minor is incorrect and also leaves out the all important bass notes/inversions:

G#o7/B Am/C A7/C# Bb/D D#o7 Am/E E7 Am

If you look at this screenshot you will see the chords in the key of Cm at the top with the analysis directly below them. The analysis is also in the lower right corner:

enter image description here

If you want to understand this beyond a bunch of Roman numerals, numbers and slashes, just listening to it reveals that the first 6 chords of this progression has a chromatically ascending bass line which has a dramatic building quality to it.

Another important aspect of this progression is that chords 1,3,5 and 7 are either diminished or dominant chords that resolve to chords 2,4,6 and 8. This gives an added tension-release as you go from chord to chord.

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The Adim chord is known as a "common-tone" chord. Common-tone diminished chords are often used to extend a tonic chord.1 In this case, it's acting to delay the tonic chord or smooth the transition from the Bb chord.

Here is each chord by function:

Amin:          Tonic
Bdim (=G#dim): Leading-tone chord; expansion of tonic
Adim:          Tonic
A:             Tonic major
Bb:            Neapolitan; more tonic expansion
Adim:          C.T.dim; transition from N to tonic
Amin:          Tonic
E:             Dominant
Amin:          Tonic

1. For more on common-tone diminished chords, see Understanding function of diminished chord in Paganini's 4th caprice

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