I got in an argument with a buddy of mine over whether the chord progression I had written was in C Major, or A Minor. I've read up on what makes it one or the other, and I strongly feel it is C Major.

F(add9) Dm7 Am G Csus4 C Am G


  • While @Laurence is no doubt correct... I've got an opinion, and it is purely an opinion, and a lighthearted one at that, but it is not without reason! I'm leaning toward Am, because the Am chord is expressed in the sequence in all it's minor 3rd glory whereas the C chord has no major 3rd interval, the Cmaj tonality is never expressed. How can Cmaj make a claim upon this harmony if it doesn't even show up to the fight? We are what we do :) Jan 11 at 17:19

1 Answer 1


You give us neither the G7 > C or E7 > Am cadences that would answer your question conclusively. Which way will you choose to end the piece of which this is an excerpt? Neither you or you friend is wrong, or right!

  • I agree with you Laurence. It could go in either direction and end up in either key from where the snippet is as shown. Apr 12, 2016 at 0:56
  • 1
    Yep. In addition, saying that a piece is "really" in C major or "really" in A minor is applying a dualism that is not necessarily useful. In my field, medieval music, there's a common mode where a melody shifts having its emphasis between two notes a third apart- for instance, A and C, and you really cannot say that it's "in" A or "in" C. The world doesn't always divide up into black and white. Apr 12, 2016 at 6:28

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.