I was fiddling around with chords on the guitar and "variations" of the D chord. After a bit I noticed the following progression was pretty good:

D - Dsus2 - D6 - Dsus4

In tabs it is:

     D  Dsus2  D6  Dsus4  
     2    0    2     3
     3    3    0     3
     2    2    2     2
     0    0    0     0
     x    x    x     x
     x    x    x     x
  1. Is the above considered a valid chord progression?
  2. Is there some theory behind this? I'm not that advanced in music theory but a progression looking like I - Isus2 - I6 - Isus4 (is that it?) seems kind of weird.
  3. Are there any genres in which this is used?
  • 4
    This could be considered a melody line on top of a D major or D5 chord, rather than a sequence of different chords. Regarding whether it's "valid", Duke Ellington is quoted as saying, "If it sounds good, it is good". Sep 18, 2015 at 15:07
  • Closer to Fine by Inidigo Girls has Dsus4 - D - Dsus2 - D repeated in the verses. Elvis' Any Day Now features D - Dsus2 - D - D7 - D6 - D - Dsus4. Sep 18, 2015 at 15:22
  • I believe the song kiss me from six pence non the richer has the chord progression D-D7-DM7 in the chorus so yes it is possible.
    – Neil Meyer
    Sep 18, 2015 at 15:35
  • I agree with the answers it is more chord repetition than chord progressions.
    – Neil Meyer
    Sep 18, 2015 at 15:42
  • 1
    A guitarist might call it a chord progression for expediency, and a music theorist might not. The answer to (1) depends on who you are talking to, and how pedantic they are feeling.
    – amalgamate
    Sep 18, 2015 at 16:31

4 Answers 4


You don't really progress so it's not really a chord progression in that sense because you aren't going anywhere you're just staying on the tonic chord. However for simplicity because the chord symbols change just call it a progression to keep it simple.

For analysis, I may be temped to call the whole section a I and call it a day because the sus chords are more for ornamentation than anything else and 6 chords can be used the same way. In some situations I may analysis it as I vi6/5 I depending if the D6 functions more like a Bm7 in first inversion.

There's not really one genre that is defined by of it, but I know a few examples that use it. One is Patience by Guns N Roses. At the end of ever line in the verse this progression is played:

    D    Dsus2 D  Dsus4  D  Dsus2  D 

This is mostly for ornamentation .

Another example is Something by the Beatles The verse starts out with this progression:

  C  CM7 C7

In this however these chords are used to transition into the next chord F because C7 leads to it

  • A very similar ordainment is used in Summer of ’69 by Bryan Adams after every chorus (or is this part even the chorus?) as a lead-in to the following verse and more prominently in the little interlude coming out of the bridge and throughout the entire last verse: Dsus2-Dmaj-Dsus4-Dmaj-Dsus2-Dmaj Asus2-Amaj-Asus4-Amaj-Asus2-Amaj instead of the regular D-A of the verse. youtu.be/9f06QZCVUHg?t=1m55s Sep 18, 2015 at 18:30
  1. This isn't invalid; by which I mean it's not wrong. If it sounds good, you keep it. But I don't think it counts as a chord progression. A chord progression is when you play different chords. Like D,G,A etc. What you are doing (I believe) would be called variation of the D chord; a playing-around with the notes of the chord.
  2. Also, I wouldn't say there is much theory behind this. You keep some notes steady, like the D as the root of the chord and play around with the other notes. This is quite common in songs. Composers use many passing notes that could qualify as sus2 or sus4 etc.

Something interesting here is how the notes change on the high E string; F#-E-F#-G. A nice fiddling around the major third of the chord, which is F#. This is found in some chorales by J.S.Bach. This might count as changing tones, but I'm not 100% sure.

By the way, keep in mind the in traditional harmony I6 refers to the I chord in first inversion; so D6 would be the D chord with F# as the bass.

  • I didn't answer your third question, because nothing comes to mind right now, but I'm sure that there are songs that use this kind of chord changing Sep 18, 2015 at 15:02
  • The theory is in Schenkerian analysis, which does not require the harmony to "progress," but does recognize that the harmonic and melodic activity will "develop" and "expand" throughout the composition. Apr 9, 2016 at 5:07

The basic idea is at least as old as 16th-century counterpoint, when it was called "cambiata" in Italian, or "changing note(s)" in English.


Since modern guitarists don't usually talk about music in terms of counterpoint or voice-leading, I suppose almost everything must necessarily be described as a "chord progression."


It seems like you are trying to ask "Are there songs/tunes/pieces where every chord has the same root note?"

I have some problems with some other things you said - Is it 'considered' a 'valid' chord progression, uh, which either I misunderstand or you radically misunderstand the nature of these things. I'm not sure how music can be 'wrong', like people say. What is 'wrong' one day is the brilliant innovations of the next generation; surely almost everything is 'OK' nowadays, if you like it. I don't know what that would mean, 'wrong'. I've even heard musicians talk of a chord progression 'not making sense', even though it sounds fine, because supposedly it doesn't do what theory says a progression should. Who cares. Music theory is like grammar. It's just (or was initially) the ways people speak/write, or the harmonic progressions etc that sound good, written down in a book. Where else could it come from. I don't know what else 'valid' could mean, other than it's approved by these supposed authorities. Like has been said already here, in music, if it sounds good, it is good. There is no other source of 'validity'. In short, don't worry so much. Play what you like, study and learn from what you like. Etc. :-) Less caring what is 'valid' or 'wrong', more 'fiddling around with chords'! :-) Knowing what something sounds like is more important than knowing what it's called, but sure, it helps when trying to write it down or communicate it to others. Good luck.

I can't think of a piece using that exact pattern, but I'm sure it would occur a lot in classical, pop/rock, songs of various genres. Just usually it wouldn't be written in the chord symbols, but just occurs 'naturally' when melodies pass over chords. Yes, it's weird to see something like that written out, but not to hear it.

I guess you just like subtle harmonic changes. You could try playing any 'conventional' chord progression entirely over the same root note. (uh, why not D hehe - write in here and ask whether it's a chord progression although it's all D chords haha) This kind of thing often called a 'pedal' (at least in classical/rock/jazz) - a D pedal (from organ pedals, I guess) with various flavours of harmony passing over it.

To actually answer your question, well yes, I've heard pieces in jazz, also in blues, with the same key/root note throughout. Also, I don't there is a clear line between 'chord progressions' that are all in one key (e.g. D) and ones that aren't, strange as that may seem. What if one of them is an inversion? like a D triad but with F# in the bass - do you count that as a D chord? No? They have to have D in the bass? Well, how about an Eb triad with a D in the bass? Eb/D? Or the various other 'slash' chords. So I don't think saying 'A chord progression is when you play different chords' actually draws a clear line the way it's intended to.

I hope this was of some help. :-)

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