From my previous question I decided to search for some info on switching between major and minor and the other way around.

Unfortunately, I cannot find anything. And unfortunately, I couldn't find songs where this switch would exist within a 2 chord or a 4 chord progression.

I mean for instance my previous progression Cm, F, C, Fm or some progression like A, Am, Dm, D for instance or Bm, A, B, C. All looped.

Are such switches unnatural and avoided?

Somehow if I just keep playing A, Am 2/4 it sounds odd but still enjoyable, is there something psychedelic to my ear that such oddities are pleasant or is it something else?

I always wondered why musicians use only standard chord progressions and don't experiment.

  • 3
    Such switches are common. Possibly the most famous example is "Norwegian Wood" by The Beatles. The F major chord at the end of the verse just switches directly to F minor right at the beginning of each chorus. Musicians experiment all the time, so I don't understand your last sentence. In fact, I would characterize the music writing process as being largely a process of experimentation. Jul 18, 2018 at 16:57
  • Got to listen to that. Jul 18, 2018 at 16:58
  • 1
    They don't use standard chord progressions, they do experiment. You just don't have enough experience of what's happening.
    – Tim
    Jul 18, 2018 at 19:07
  • There are cases when the switch makes sense, in the sense that it is supported by classical music theory or by tradition in western music. But more importantly there is no such thing as "unnatural" or to be avoided in art (and music is art). It seems that you are experimenting with things outside of the standard template most people use. If it sounds cool do it.
    – user50691
    Jul 19, 2018 at 10:36

2 Answers 2


As said in the comments, those switches are kind of common. In general, you won't hear it in everyday music, but there are infinite examples. Maybe the most common application of it is the cadence IV iv I, present in one million songs, but I would cite Chopin and Oasis. As for alternating major and minor constantly, I know this one.

I think constantly switching is not so common because, as you say, it sounds a little odd. I think the general public claims, most of the times, for familiarity, and just sometimes for surprises and experiments. That's why you have the feeling that "musicians use only standard chord progressions", but probably you are just looking in the wrong places.


There’s two examples of major straight to minor I can think of from jazz. You might want to check them out.

The first, which fits your description best, is the opening four bars of the chords to the A section of ‘On Green Dolphin Street’. In concert C, it’s:

Cmaj7 | Cmaj7 | Cm7 | Cm7 | ...

The second is in the tune ‘Alone Together’. The A section begins in D minor, but moves to D major by the end, and during the transition to the second A section, the D major goes directly to a D minor chord.

In both of the cases above, I don’t think it serves as a functional progression though. It’s just, colour.

As coconochao mentions, the IV - iv - I ending is a common example of direct major-minor. I believe this is a form of Modal Interchange, a different way of approaching chord progressions. I personally like to use it whilst improvising on jazz ballads.

As for whether it sounds odd... I believe that’s just a matter of how accustomed to it your ears are. I like it because it sounds different from conventional functional progressions.

Additional thought: Just realized these are all major to minor, not minor to major. I don’t know why that it. Maybe our ears prefer going to flatter keys over going to sharper keys. (Minor is just major with more flats.)

Edit: Additional additional thought: Perhaps it’s because we associate tension with going up (getting brighter, thus sharper) and resolution with going down (getting darker, hence flatter).

  • To your last para. A number of my students, at different times, have referred to something like A minor as Ab, and vice versa. Certainly nothing I've taught them..!
    – Tim
    Jul 19, 2018 at 6:22

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