# Understand this progression/harmony

I've found a song that uses the next progression. Is a 4 "simple" 4 bars progression:

Cm / D / D# / F

In the first 3 bars, it plays notes from this scale: D D# F# G A A# C In the last bar, basically is using the notes from the triad: F A C

At the beginning I thought it was a G harmonic minor progression, but the last bar blows my mind because it works so well but I can't fit it all together (it should be F#, not F). Is the song making a key change? or maybe I'm too tired and I can see the obvious?

Thanks to all the community in advance.

First, that D# chord is more easily understood as an Eb chord.

Assuming that this chord progression loops, I'd think it's in C minor, with this Roman numeral notation:

i - V/v - VI/v = III - IV

So the D-to-Eb chord progression would be understood as V/v (a secondary dominant) to VI/v, rather like a deceptive cadence. The Eb chord would be a capable pivot chord back into C minor.

IV going to i (a subdominant variant going to the tonic) sounds fine to me.

Alternately, if we treat this as being in G minor, we get this:

iv - V - VI - VII

Shame we don't reach the tonic!

• With the scale notes being G A Bb C D Eb F#, it's highly likely to be G harmonic minor. With it being modal and using C as the root.
– Tim
Nov 27, 2018 at 7:01
• Mmhm, one thing is true and I didn't say it before: the song/progression has a bass making a C note all the time in the 4 bars. But I don't understand, if it were a C minor, we would have: C D Eb F G Ab Bb And not "my" notes: C D Eb F# G A Bb And D chord should be suspended and the F chord should be minor and not major isn't? Nov 27, 2018 at 8:43
• @Victor it's rather c-Dorian than Ionian/major, and (in this answer's interpretation) the D chord is basically borrowed from the dominant key. Nov 27, 2018 at 16:05

This is best undestood as iv-V-VI-VII in G minor. Sure, D major chords are from G harmonic minor, but that doesn't exclude the rest of the G natural minor's chords.

In light of the new developent in this post, the C pedal over the entire progression, I agree with the other answers that suggest C Dorian with a borrowed D chord from the relative minor, G minor (harmonic minor).

• What is your reason for seeing this as g rather than c, if the “dominant” anyways doesn't resolve to a g chord? What does your answer add over Dekkadeci's? Nov 27, 2018 at 15:59
• @leftaroundabout, all the pitches are from G minor where the only chromatic is the raised ^7 for the dominant `D`, while it's funny the tonic is omitted, everything else is straight forward key of G minor. The dominant truly defines a key. If it were C minor we have two foreign chords - that aren't really functional - and no dominant. Nov 27, 2018 at 18:22
• I conceptualized this as a variation of the VI-VII-i move in minor, that's really really common. Also, in C, it seems to make less sense, with less of a sense of resolution. It could, of course be C minor, I just think it makes more sense in G minor. As for what it adds, in my opinion it is a refutation of his idea. Nov 27, 2018 at 18:30
• I see the original post left out the part about bass part playing a `C` pedal. In light of that @leftaroundabout's comment about C Dorian seems probably the best description. Nov 27, 2018 at 18:32
• Thank you, @MichaelCurtis. I've edited my response. Really interesting piece, should be! Nov 27, 2018 at 23:59