If someone asks me to play I VI II IV in C minor, am I supposed to play them in the same octave? Like, if I start with C minor in the third octave, do I then move 6 steps up to play G# major or can I also move down 2 steps and play the same chord an octave below? Will it still be the same chord progression?

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    Usually, using Roman numerals, minors are represented by lower case. And in C minor, VI will be called Ab rather than G#. – Tim Jan 30 '16 at 7:19
  • c minor does not have a G#. c minor is the relative minor of Eb Major which has a B, E and A Flat in the key signature with a Bb that would be raised seeing as it is the Leading Tone of the c minor key. – Neil Meyer Jan 30 '16 at 10:26
  • This is a very broad question. It is basically asking how should you do harmony exercises. Which in itself is something that takes years of education to truly master. – Neil Meyer Jan 30 '16 at 10:32

Yes they are all the same chord progression. When just given the Roman numeral analysis or chord symbols of the progression, the exact voicings do not matter nor does what octave you play them in.

However it should be noted that what voicings you use, what octave you play in, and how much you move from one chord to another affect how what you play sounds. Try different voicings in different octaves and see what you like best.

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  • There is definite harmonic rules about how the voicing should work. In fact that is the whole point of harmony exercises. – Neil Meyer Jan 30 '16 at 10:27
  • @NeilMeyer 'define' is a strong word. I wouldn't use it in this case. In harmonic exercises yes. But in a random song these rules wouldn't need to be followed 100%. – Shevliaskovic Jan 30 '16 at 14:05
  • @NeilMeyer I shift a voicing by octaves sometimes to create distance. It's an effect you want sometimes. – Dom Jan 30 '16 at 14:18

Whether you move up or down, the progression will sound the same. Which way you choose purely depends on the song. There are times were the composer (or some other musician) will specifically ask you to move a certain way; if not, try both of the ways yourself and see what fits best.

If the melody moves up, it might sound nice to move along with it. It will also sound interesting if you moved the opposite way. If the melody goes up, try going down and vice versa.

Also, it might be nice to mix those two ways. The first time go down and the second time go up.

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