When someone says "one four five" chord progression, could that refer to a "i-iv-v" chord progression? Do I have to say "minor one, minor four, minor five"?

  • Without context, "one four five" would typically be I-IV-V (all major). In a particular context it could possibly be all minor but it seems unlikely -- I'd suggest that you specify their minorness most of the time.
    – user28
    Commented Feb 20, 2016 at 4:22
  • @MatthewRead - unlikely - but Black Magic Woman springs to mind.
    – Tim
    Commented Feb 20, 2016 at 7:31
  • Dominant chords are rarely minor.
    – Neil Meyer
    Commented Feb 21, 2016 at 8:46

1 Answer 1


You do not need to say minor if you are referring to a minor chord especially if you refer to the key when you say whatever progression it is. The key should give you all the information you need to know if the chord is major or minor. However if you are using any alterations, you should be as clear as possible about it.

One example you'll hear all the time is a "two five one" progression in a major key which would map to ii-V-I. Notice how the "two" is minor in this progression. There are variations of the ii-V-I progression where the ii chord becomes II (actually V/V) and you could call it a "major two five one" progression as showing a the alteration, but a more accurate way to say it would be "five of five, five one" although if not familiar with the terminology this might be more confusing.

  • In a minor situation, the V could be either. Usually V but on occasions v, which can get confusing if one doesn't know the song.
    – Tim
    Commented Feb 20, 2016 at 7:29

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