When I asked my question on why do C7 chords contain a Bb and not a B, a user gave an example, how tonic chords transforms into a IV chord thru a dominant chord (C - C7 - F). I found this transition quite good (as a C-D7-G), so, my question is, is there anything in the music theory like some library or collection of such transitions patterns, which are used often in music?

  • The classical theory term for a chord progression pattern is a cadence. Dec 2, 2013 at 9:45
  • 1
    @luser - a cadence comes at the end- of a line/verse/etc.It isn't in itself a progression - it's usually just the last 2 or 3 chords. Common cadences are - perfect, plagal, imperfect and interrupted.A cadence will be at the end of something, so is not just a series of chord changes.
    – Tim
    Dec 8, 2013 at 10:14

3 Answers 3


Music theory is the study of those patterns. As you probably know, music theory is much too large a topic to be covered in a single article or list of patterns. I hope you have a chance to study music theory in detail!

Another important note: what's considered a "good" pattern depends on what style of music you're working with. For example, in the classical period or common practice era, there were very strict rules for what musicians would accept as enjoyable chord progressions and melodies. In contrast, modern jazz has an entirely different set of common chord progressions and encourages experimentation. So in addition to studying general music theory, you should acquaint yourself with the tropes most often used in the genes of music you want to work with.

EDIT: If you're looking for ways to move on to more complicated chord progressions, I have three pieces of advice:

  1. Study music theory, as per the original answer. The more you know about music theory, the more easily you'll be able to come up with new ideas and the more tools you'll have to play with.

  2. Experiment! Try playing different chord progressions just to hear how they sound. Especially try chord progressions you've never seen written. This will let you get used to how each chord sounds and how different transitions between chords work. It will also mean that occasionally, you'll invent an original chord progression that you can use to write an especially fresh song.

  3. Analyze other people's music. Get used to what chord progressions other musicians use. If you hear an especially interesting chord progression, figure out what it is and why it works.

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    In that vein, you can Google "jazz chord progressions" or "rock chord progressions," and you will find lists of common patterns to the genres you're looking up.
    – Kevin
    Nov 30, 2013 at 20:11
  • Kevin, thanks for your kind answer, but I was looking for a different thing :) I was in search for a way how to move away from the simple rock progressions to more complex transitions :)
    – PaulD
    Dec 1, 2013 at 23:10

Perhaps this would be of interest to you: http://www.hooktheory.com/analysis

This site has a database of songs and chords, and allows you to search based on a particular chord progression (see the "trends" section)

They only have 1100 songs, and don't have any with exactly your progression. There is one with a C, D, G


The "interactive chromatic circle" may be of help in understanding how chords are placed with respect to scales and modes. Here it shows how the dominant C7 is the 1,3,5,7 chord in the V (Mixolydian) mode of the F major scale:
Interactive Chromatic Circle - C7
(just click the 'play' button beside the chord to see C7 being played)

Chord transitions/progressions are a much more complex question, as often chords are borrowed from other scales and modes to make the sequences more interesting. I don't believe it is possible to filter the patterns for that into one (or even a few) fixed rules. Even the "correct" transitions vary between cultures and genre.

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