In the next link Tony Rice is playing in his first chord sequence Am - G - C - D. The song and the sequence is in the key of D. In the Key of D (tonic) we have A(major) as the dominant and G(major) as the subdominant, then C must be a borrowed chord making it a bVII chord, am I right? In the Chord sequence played by Tony Rice he plays an Aminor as the fifth chord, why does that work?

He also notes he got that sequence from Claude Debussy, a profound user of tritone and whole tone scale. And that's all I know about him.

Can somebody tell me how such sequence (Vm-IV-bVII-I) works? Or am I on the wrong path?

Here's the link:

  • Can you clarify what you mean by "work" in your questions of "why does that work?" and "...how such a sequence works?" Dec 26 '17 at 17:17
  • What I mean by "why does that work" is why it doesn't sound odd, what's the theory behind this chord sequence when the song is in D and the chords not. Jan 5 '18 at 11:35

If the song is in the key of D, then the chords are taken from D mixolydian, which has the triads

D Em F#dim G Am Bm C

Note that they are the same as the chords of G major because D mixolydian is the fifth mode of the G major scale.

  • So if I'm right then he starts out in D mixolydian and immediately goes into D ionian for the melodic part, which has 2 sharps? Dec 17 '17 at 16:15
  • Oh wait, the melodic / lead part has no C in it. So the song could actually be in D mixolydian the whole time? Dec 17 '17 at 16:22
  • @Benjamin2303: I do not know the melody of the song. The chords are definitely from D mixolydian.
    – Matt L.
    Dec 17 '17 at 16:24
  • @Benjamin2303: D mixolydian is often written with 2 sharps (so everybody knows the piece is in D), and then the note C would be written with a natural.
    – Matt L.
    Dec 17 '17 at 16:25

You're on the wrong path by assuming there's any reason the sequence SHOULDN'T work. There is no requirement whatsoever for all chords in a piece to be diatonic in any one key. The bVII chord is frequently used, and needs no special justification.

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