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I've been trying to finish a song with the following chord progression: C G7/D Am F. I know I'm supposed to end it on a C, but it just doesn't sound right. I tried the other chords in the progression too, but it still didn't sound right. I also tried to use these chords an octave down. What chord can I use after F to end my song? The song is in C major.

score excerpt

(The second staff has a baritone clef, and the first has a treble clef.)

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    We really have very little to go on here. What style it's in will influence a finish chord. Also its voicing. What instruments are used? Is that A supposed to be Am? The last chord is supposed to be C? There's always the other option - fade out... – Tim Jul 27 at 20:51
  • I'm writing sheet music for piano, I can't use the fade out because its supposed to be an end of a section after which there will be a longer pause after which comes a more bouncy melody. A is supposed to be A minor – Virbat Sim Jul 27 at 20:58
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    Why on Earth are you using a non-standard clef? – Laurence Payne Jul 28 at 1:51
  • @LaurencePayne Because that's the way keyboard music was written in 17th century France. If you have a background playing Couperin, it probably looks normal. – Your Uncle Bob Jul 28 at 2:17
  • As an aside - how are staccato dotted minims played? Maybe like crotchets followed by crotchet rests? – Tim Jul 28 at 11:17
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The problem here seems to be that it is the G7/D chord that would resolve well to C, but following it with Am and F takes the progression in another direction, and just ending on G7/D, Am, F, C indeed doesn't sound all that final unless you carefully choose the voicing. And also, if the previous part had a repetition of those four chords, there's nothing telling the listener that this part won't just repeat the sequence like it did before.

If you want to avoid ending on C, you could end e.g. on the relative minor Am, with a sequence like G7/D, Am, F, Dm, G, Am, but this will always sound a bit open-ended.

There are options to end on C and make it sound more final. One is to cut the progression short after G7/D and go straight to C. Another would be to follow G7/D, Am, F with another G7/D before going to C; or a variation of that with a straightforward G instead of a G7 (especially when played lower than the first G7/D) or go via Dm to G to C; and maybe give the G7/D or G two measures before resolving on C.

Another interesting option is to follow G7/D, Am, F with an F6/9, and then resolve to C via a combination of G7/D, Dm and/or Bdim. Or a simpler version that just goes from the G7/D, Am, F, to Bdim and then C.

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I think I've figured it out. I tried to use C/G and it now sounds about right. I also tried using the C chord with a C added in the octave lower, and it worked too, but less so. And it still is kind of a resolution on the I chord, but it works.

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    Isn't C/G the I chord that you were trying to avoid? – David Bowling Jul 28 at 0:34
  • It is, but it's the best thing I was able to think of. It works better than the other things I've tried including changing modes, augmented and diminished chords. It still isn't the best solution, but it's good enough. – Virbat Sim Jul 28 at 0:40
  • As for ending on a chord other than I, I guess it can be done on V, but as I said, it doesn't sound right for me. I wrote this question being convinced that the thing that sounded off to me was the I chord, but an inversion kind of fixed that. – Virbat Sim Jul 28 at 0:56
  • Ending on the V instead of the I would cause a very different feeling, to be sure. There is an important lesson in this: specific chord voicings play a crucial role in how chords actually sound in their specific contexts. Calling a chord C doesn't tell you much, and calling it C/G tells you only slightlly more. The way the chord is voiced and how that relates to the chords and melody around it tells the whole story. – David Bowling Jul 28 at 1:02

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