I do not know about chord progressions. What is a chord progression? What is an example of chord progression? Thank you.


This question may be fooling you because the answer's so simple! A series of chords played one after the other can be called a 'chord progression'. That's it.

Chord progressions come in several flavours. They may be simple or complex. Functional or not. C, A7, D7, G7, C where (apart from the first) each chord is the dominant seventh of the next is 'functional'. Jazz-rock players can enjoy themselves for hours over a simple, non-functional Cm9, Bbm9 vamp.

Would we say a one-chord piece has a 'chord progression'? Nice question :-) I guess the English language requires a progression to PROGRESS, not just sit there.

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  • If you play Frère Jaques only on the tonic the progression will be I - I - I - I ;) – Albrecht Hügli Oct 1 '19 at 14:38
  • @AlbrechtHügli - what's wrong with I V I I in each bar. It's a little less tedious. Or I ii iii I for the adventurous...Or I ivo vi I. The list goes on! – Tim Oct 2 '19 at 8:14
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    Tm, of course I'd play it I-V-I-I or any other (even 1625 ;) my comment was concerning the point: Would we say a one-chord piece has a 'chord progression'? Nice question. to say it is possible to accompany a simple canon only with the tonic and I'd suggest this is a chord progression. – Albrecht Hügli Oct 2 '19 at 8:46
  • yes, I think staying on the tonic is a perfectly valid chord progression. It's a stretch to call that "chord changes" though ... – danmcb Oct 2 '19 at 19:47

The requirement to understand what chord-progression means is the knowledge of chords and scales - and the best advice (if you play E-bass, Keyboard or Guitar) is to learn the circle of fifths.

Chord progression means the sequence of chords (built on degrees of the scale on which a song or a music-piece is constructed).

If you look at the sheet music of a pop song then the chord symbols are notated above the staffs in letters or if you have got only the lyrics the chords are set as letters above the text:

The sequence of this changing of chords is the chord progression.

It's very helpful to know the degrees in Roman Numbers and their function also in Jazz or when playing a Blues.

Knowing the chord progression in Classical music helps you a lot to learn a piece of music, as when you know the motifs and the chord progression it is much easier to play by heart and it helps you in sight reading.

There are many different patterns, like the cadence C-F-G-C or C-Dm-G-C ... very famous is the progression C-Am-Dm-G or the progression of the blues pattern.

As already explained it is almost impossible to understand this stuff without knowing the scales, chords, and circle of fifths (the functions of chords as tonic, dominant, subdominant and secondary dominants) and playing and applying it on an instrument.


You information that you know what chords are comes a little bit late.

So I’ll focus at the point:

What is an example of chord progression?

The chord progression is the changing and succession of chords that build the harmony (harmonysation) to accompany a tune and make a song fuller and more interesting.

The first progression you should learn is I-V-I Or C-G7-C with this you can accompany e.g. SUR LE PONT D’AVIGNON, FRÈRE JACQUES, HEY,HO, SKIP TO MY LOU and many other children songs.

This sounds similar like you blow in a mouth harp I = c,e,g = Tonic and by “pulling” you get the substitution of the G chord (V = g,h,d, called Dominant). The substitution vii = b,d,f, can have a similar function as the V as it has 2 tones in common b,d and can be considred as V7 g,h,d,f without root tone.

Another chord change is I - IV = C-F-C. F = f,a,c is called the subdominant. With this progression you may be able to accompany some spirituals or a great song of the Beatles: I GOT A FEELING (you better sing it in E-A-E or G-C-G. **You can transpose chord progressions with help of the circle of fifths or by writing the new key scale you are looking for above the given scale and derive all degrees and chords.

With the tonic, dominant and subdominant you can play now all songs using only the chords of the cadence e.g. THIS OLD HOSE, JACKSON and many other folksongs and ordinary BLUES (using 7 chords).

Many songs use the dominant of the dominant (secondary dominant) like JINGLE BELLS where you have to play the V7/V which is D7:G. The dominant and secondary dominants are clockwise (right) of the related key in the circle of fifths.

Some usual progressions are already mentioned in the fist part of this answer like 1,6,2,5 or 1,6,4,5 (better use Roman Numbers!)

A well known chord progression is the so called subdominant cadence: C,C7,F,Fm,C, D7,G7,C If you play this chord progression you will recognize instinctively many songs: e.g. O WHEN THE SAINTS GO MARCHING IN

Finally there is very usual the fifth fall cadence (chromatic and diatonic). The chromatic Is identical with chains of secondary fifths.


in some songs you have to exchange the major chord by its minor parallel and you’ll get a chain of secondary (IIm7-V7) functions.

So you see if you ask a question and you don’t say precisely what are your requirements you risk that the one who answers will have to explain the whole theory of basically harmony.

A chord progression is understood in music as any sequence of chords. While a cadence with a formulaic movement leads to a goal, there are no special rules or style guidelines for progressions. Progressions are not tied to a particular form. Wikipedia

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A chord progression is a series of chords played in sequence, represented by roman numerals. Since you already know the C Major scale, you also know you can build a chord on each of those notes, each represented by a Roman numeral.

chord progression

Take those chords, put them in any order you wish, and you get a chord progression. The I-IV-V chord progression is a particularly famous one, as is the ii-V-I. (Source)

ETA: As other users have pointed out, any series of chords could be a chord progression, it does not have to stick to just one key signature.

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    Any series of chords intended to be played in succession can be called a progression, the chords don't have to make sense in any particular person's opinion, or be "in the same key", and they don't have to be represented by roman numerals. Cm - F#13 - Db7 - Abm - B7 is a chord progression just as well. What it's suitable for is up to subjective imagination. – piiperi Reinstate Monica Oct 1 '19 at 7:06
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    Downvoted for perpetrating the myth that music has to stick to one key or mode. – Laurence Payne Oct 2 '19 at 13:37
  • @LaurencePayne Indeed, thank you for the catch :) – Annie Oct 5 '19 at 6:33
  • "Since you already know the C Major scale" ... they didn't mention scales at all. In comments, OP mentioned they know the C major chord, which is what was asked. I don't understand scales and your answer looks more confusing than helpful to me. :$ – msb May 20 at 22:51

When investigating into music theory Wikipedia has very good sources. Topics like What is a Chord Progression? can be typed into google or by clicking here. If Wikipedia is too complicated I will attempt to give a simple answer.

As you probably know a single chord can be used for harmony whether it is "happy" or "sad" or somewhere inbetween. However, if a song only used single chords it would be very boring (somehow pop songs manage this). So instead composers use multiple chords in succession called a Chord Progression.

An examples of a popular chord progression in C major would be C major to A minor to F major to G major (I-vi-IV-V). However, a chord progression can be any succession of chords.

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  • Downvoted because?... I'm generally confused I need some constructive critisicm. Was I being too simple? – Vitulus Oct 1 '19 at 9:00

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