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I'm making a tool to help plan chord progressions, and I'm wondering what the starting options should be.

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You'd think maybe diatonic chords would be the answer - Fly Me to the Moon, in C, starts on Am, Sweet Sue, in G, starts on Am. My Funny Valentine, the same. All My Lovin', in C, starts on Dm.

But no! Sweet Georgia Brown, in G, starts on E.

More than 9/10 songs do start on the key chord - particularly if we don't include anacruces, and of the rest, 9/10 will start on diatonic chords. Figures not too accurate, you understand!

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No, the opening chord need not be the tonic. Here's a very well-known example.enter image description here

It will generally get to a tonic chord before too long though.

Here's a song that doesn't get there until the very end of the first 8-bar section.

enter image description here

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  • Thanks! Are there chords that might be used for this more commonly, or is anything fair game?
    – arrey
    Commented Dec 30, 2018 at 0:59
  • @arrey - Some starting chords are probably more common than others (e.g. the tonic, the dominant, the subdominant, ii), but anything is likely fair game. Chopin's Ballade No. 1 in G Minor infamously starts with material that revolves around an A flat major chord--bII for the home key of G minor.
    – Dekkadeci
    Commented Dec 30, 2018 at 9:03

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