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So, I come across this progression fairly often: e.g: G - A - C

I was wondering if this progression has a name since its used often in pop songs. I interpret it as V - VImajor - I. Scales to use vary from Gminor pentatonic, to G lydian dominant - A mixolydian - C mixolydian. I am not that familiar with chord scale theory and was wondering how one would fit chord scale theory over this kind of progression?

Edit: after some comments I want to re-evaluate my previous statement about the interpretation of the progression. The progression drwas heavily to G, making it plausible that G is the I chord, making the progression I, IImajor, IV. Either case, the A is the odd one out. How does the A fit in this progression?

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    Do you have an example of a song that uses this progression? A more common progression would include Am, instead of A, and that would be in the key of A minor. – Peter Mar 13 at 15:59
  • Can't really see how Gm pent notes fit well, or Mixolydian on either of the other two. Unless it has a blues tinge. – Tim Mar 13 at 16:01
  • Hi Peter, I understand that Am is diatonic, but thats why I ask this question: how would one interpret thís progression. An example is the chorus from let love rule by Lenny Kravitz. – Tom van Heusden Mar 13 at 16:01
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    What key feels like the tonal center? G? – user45266 Mar 13 at 16:10
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    by asking "fit in" are you asking for a functional harmony analysis? – Michael Curtis Mar 13 at 16:41
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This link names it the Pop-Rock Lydian II progression: I - II - IV - I. Musicologist Allan W. Pollack attributed to The Beatles its first use in popular music (Eight Days a Week verse) and analyzed it as I - VofV - IV - I.

  • I have seen that description/analysis before, and I understand a II symbol can be used to show a major triad on the second scale degree, but V/V I don't really like. What dominant function is that chord fulfilling? – Michael Curtis Mar 13 at 16:43
  • Thanks a lot. This was what I was looking for. It also solidifies my initial lydian-feel with this progression. Thanks for the link and the explanation. – Tom van Heusden Mar 13 at 16:44
  • @TomvanHeusden, yeah, I guess I'm picky with functional descriptions. When something is non-functional (like I believe this II is) then a functional V/V seems inappropriate. Of course that doesn't change the actual music, just chord labels. – Michael Curtis Mar 13 at 16:59
  • It's outside the scope of this question, but the composer Debussy used lots of non functional triads and seventh chords. Trying to label such chords with Roman numeral analysis functions wouldn't make much sense. I think this is a similar situation but in the pop music genre – Michael Curtis Mar 13 at 17:00
  • @michael curtis: thanks for the contribution. I agree. I have seen many attempts ramming songs into the nashvile numbering system that, to me, (though correct) don't make much sense. Giant steps, or Stella by Starlight for example. – Tom van Heusden Mar 13 at 17:08

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