The chords shown below are already compatible with the C Major scale. These are the diatonic chords.

              I     ii     iii     IV      V     vi     viidim

C major = C , Dm , Em , F , G , Am , Bdim

But given all these different chords that work in the key, a smaller subset of highly common progressions exists. For example, some such common progressions are:




Why would one limit themselves to these common chord progressions?

closed as unclear what you're asking by Tetsujin, David Bowling, user19146, jdjazz, Dom Aug 7 '18 at 13:12

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  • Sorry, what do you mean by "common chords" or "harmonic" in this question? – Dekkadeci Aug 5 '18 at 12:54
  • Common chord progressions in major keys are: * I – IV – V* I – vi – IV – V* ii – V – I* – Xcrain Aug 5 '18 at 13:17
  • There's a big difference between the phrases "common chord" and "common chord progression." And again what do you mean by "harmonic"? – LSM07 Aug 5 '18 at 14:42
  • WIthin C major scale, – Xcrain Aug 5 '18 at 14:43
  • 1
    @Xcrain, Please read over my edit and let me know if this is a good way to write your question. Are you asking why one would use a common chord progression when there are many more possibilities to create from the list of 7 diatonic C major chords? – jdjazz Aug 5 '18 at 16:25

Chords have functions. Chord Functions

There is a reason for the order and number of chords to express harmony. Each chord has a function as stated in image.

There are common progressions because the chords please the ear using that number of chords and types throughout history. I-IV-V has been used throughout history. The V leading to the I. The ii-V-I for example is a common turn around. The tension created resolves at the Tonic.

Composers use the other chords for more expression if they choose to.


The question isn't making a lot of sense, but if I translate it one way, it's like asking why do we write a whole sentence/paragraph only in one language?

Simple answer, it works better that way! Except in music, the order of chords is less important than the order of words in a sentence - albeit using words from the same language.

All the chords quoted are diatonic to C major - they blend with each other, and fit well together. Not the only way to play, but certainly pleasing to the ear, and easy to understand.

With several re-edits to the question, the answer still stands.

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