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I've noticed a pattern in music that is very interesting where a progression will start with one chord and chromatically ascend or descend until the starting chord is reached again.

For example: a descending progression that has this pattern would look something like this:

C   G7/B   Bb   F/A   Ab   G   D/F#  F  C/E Cm/Eb  D  Eb7/Db  C

The bass chromatically moves by half step down 12 times until reaching the first chord. Does this type of progression have a name?

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  • I'm not sure it has a name, but it's really a bunch of deceptive progressions: root moves up a fifth, "resolves" to the flat mediant; up a fifth, etc....
    – user16935
    Feb 19, 2015 at 12:17
  • @Patrx2 I know there are similar progressions out there and this one was just one I've been playing with for a while. I'm pretty sure there is one like this in somewhere in Mozart's Requiem (Lacrimosa if I remember correctly).
    – Dom
    Feb 19, 2015 at 12:22
  • I'll have to check. I've seen similar in the literature myself (parallel first inversion chords, maybe?), but they rarely go full circle (or they go past full circle). The practical problem with a full circle sequence of any sort is that it can give the impression of treading water.
    – user16935
    Feb 19, 2015 at 12:27
  • If I'm not mistaken, it is called an omnibus progression.
    – Caters
    Oct 17, 2019 at 23:48

2 Answers 2

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This type of progression is called an Omnibus Progression. It is a variation on the lament bass which is a figure where bass moves by a 4th connecting all chromatic notes in between. The Omnibus Progression most notably features a chromatically-descending bassline that traverses an octave. Additionally, the progression may also support a chromatically ascending S, A, or T line that ascends an octave simultaneously.

Here is a link to read more:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omnibus_progression

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  • Can an omnibus progression also ascend the chromatic scale, or is there another term for that?
    – Kevin
    Feb 19, 2015 at 21:48
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    @Kevin, reread the last full sentence of my answer. :) Feb 20, 2015 at 2:29
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    old question, but for who looks this up, this is often called a "line cliché" in jazz
    – Some_Guy
    Jan 4, 2017 at 15:12
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One could also call this a descending bassline type of progression. Descending basslines are a powerful device that can unify a seemingly atonal chord sequence.

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