How should I analyse this chord progression: Fm D♭ E♭ B♭ ?

Is it (in A♭ major): vi IV V II ?

  • Assuming there are no key changes, a very basic rule is to look at the last chord of a piece to figure out what key you are in. Most pieces end on I or i. There are ones that end on V or IV, but those are usually really obvious, as they sound incomplete. – trlkly Sep 6 '14 at 1:08

It is unlikely that this is Ab major because the progression doesn't have an Ab major in it and also doesn't typically have a Bb chord. If it has a Bb chord it is usually followed by a Eb chord as the Bb chord will function as a secondary dominant in the key of Ab major not II.

I see it as a progression in F minor as a i VI VII IV. The IV is technically not from F minor, but could have easily been taken from the relative major. Another possibility I see is the chord progression being in Eb major as a ii bVII I V.

Without seeing more of the piece, I would lean towards Eb major or F minor over Ab major.

  • 1
    B♭ is more likely to be found in the minor scale as a foreign IV than as a foreign II in the major scale? – ysdx Sep 6 '14 at 0:02
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    I play this exact chord progression in F minor frequently. It has F as a strong tonal center in my experience. – Kevin Sep 6 '14 at 0:33
  • I would tend to agree with the F minor interpretation (i bVII bVII IV), with the major IV probably coming from F Dorian scale (or Ionain/relative major scale, as previously noted). Although as mentioned, Eb also works. – Caleb Hines Sep 6 '14 at 0:48
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    Yeah, an actual II chord is rather rare. It's usually actually a V/V, which is almost always followed by a dominant chord (e.g. V, vii°) in close succession. – trlkly Sep 6 '14 at 1:12

E flat major. That is the key that the passage resolves to, as you can hear by playing an E flat major chord after the B flat chord. If you follow the B flat with any of the other chords, the passage is left sounding unresolved.

Hence, the chord progression is ii,flattened VII, I, V

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