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Hello I'm searching for a basic chord progression template. So far I found this :

  1. I (vi)
  2. V, vii°
  3. IV, ii
  4. IV, iii, vi

Where one can go on any level equal or lower than the level it's at and "1." can go anywhere. (vi) in parenthesis is for deceptive cadence. So an example of a chord progression would be :

I, iii, IV, V

Now what I don't understand is that I thought a chord progression should tend to finish on the tonic, or did I get that wrong ? What I often heard is that it's to give a feeling to get back home, back to the tonic. I'm not sure if that should be at the beginning, at the end, or both though. So ultimately if I want 1 chord progression with 4 parts I could have: I, iii, IV, I Or ''should'' I have the first one ?

Also if I want to combine it with a deceptive cadence how would that look ?

I'm just trying to figure out a template to help me out here. I'm conscious there is no set rules and what works is what sounds good. But for an analytical person like me I prefer to start with a template.

Thanks in advance.

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I'm going to mostly ignore the template itself; it's ok, I guess, but it doesn't cover a lot of common progressions. For example, anything that transitions from V to IV.

Chord progressions do often tend towards the tonic, but it may not be the last chord in the progression. The resolution may come from the first chord of the next repeat. So, in your example, the last chord (V) will resolve to the first chord of the next cycle (I). At the end of the song you'd probably add another bar of I to finish everything off.

If you want a deceptive cadence, try substituting the I with vi or IV. There are other options, but let's not muddy the water.

Note that in many modern styles, the I can come in the middle of the progression. You don't even have to end the song itself on the tonic. I've played many songs that end on vi and IV, and at least two that end on V. Of course, this gives a different sense of resolution to the tonic.

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The following chords can be derived from any major scale: I, ii, iii, IV, V, vi, vii°.

The chords can be grouped into "functions":

  • Tonic (T): I, vi, iii
  • Predominant (PD): ii, IV
  • Dominant (D): V, vii°

The building block of most chords progression is the following sequence: T (PD) D T. PD is optional. For example I (IV) V I, or iii (ii) V vi, etc. Your template is based on this. This is why it works.

So you generally start and end on the tonic. If you end on vi or iii instead of I, you get a so-called deceptive cadence.

You don't have to stop on a T chord though. You can stop on a PD or D, which provides an unresolved/suspended feeling.

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