In the verse part of Genesis' "Behind the Lines", the last line of the chord progression goes:

F C Dm Bb G -> C (resolution)

What is that cadence? What is the theory for that bVII - V - I?

I've heard a lot of times the double plagal cadence that goes IV/IV (bVII) - IV - I, for example in the outro of Hey Jude. But I could not find the correlation between the bVII and V chords. I thought maybe it could be kind of a resolution where D stays the same, Bb goes to B and F goes to G (if voiced and inverted correctly); but it's kind of disorienting that the Bb is chromatic to the key...

  • Maybe because it wouldn't be used in the common practice preiod, there's no official name for it.
    – Tim
    Nov 15, 2019 at 20:07
  • @Tim I'm not looking for a name but for a common analysis
    – Iaka Noe
    Nov 15, 2019 at 20:16
  • What is the bass doing through these changes? Nov 15, 2019 at 20:26
  • @MichaelCurtis that's a very good question, that I don't know the answer to.
    – Iaka Noe
    Nov 15, 2019 at 20:29

3 Answers 3


Rock harmony tends to be mostly root position, but if the bass held a D for the Dm and the Bb, you could possibly talk about passing motion, especially if there is a line like A Bb B C.

Mixolydian coloring may be the most straight forward way to describe this. Exclude the Bb...

F C Dm ... G -> C

...and you have common progressions IV I then ii V I.

Inserting a Mixolydian (borrowed) bVII between ii and V doesn't really change the essential harmony of root progression by fourths and fifths.

In terms of technical jargon borrowed chord, mode mixture, etc. are terms that could be used.

  • That would be a good explanation. I don't know if there is criteria or theory for passing chords so...
    – Iaka Noe
    Nov 15, 2019 at 20:47
  • passing motion, chords, etc. basically can be used when the tones don't fit a well defined, common progression, but the linear motion is step wise. A classic passing chord is the V6/4 in something like I6 V6/4 I. Passing chord in invoked for that description, because 6/4 chords (second inversion chords) are expected to be part of a cadence of pedal bass. Nov 15, 2019 at 20:51
  • Try looking up passing tone, passing chord for a more complete description. Some counterpoint knowledge helps complete the understanding. Nov 15, 2019 at 20:54
  • 1
    Wikipedia: Borrowed Chord "Chord progressions may be constructed with borrowed chords, including two progressions common in rock music, I–♭VII–♭VI–♭VII, common everywhere, and I–♭VI–IV, used by bands like Genesis, Yes, and Nirvana."
    – Iaka Noe
    Nov 23, 2019 at 5:17

I think it could be considered a line cliché where the A in the Dm chord goes to Bb and then to B in the G chord.

  • I was going to call it that, but isn't a line cliché a progression where only one note changes chromatically (and the others stay the same)?
    – Iaka Noe
    Nov 15, 2019 at 20:14
  • But it would actually make sense, since then it resolves to C (going A Bb B C)
    – Iaka Noe
    Nov 15, 2019 at 20:18
  • I don't think it's necessary for all the other notes to stay the same. Stairway to Heaven has other notes move. Nov 15, 2019 at 20:33

The B♭ chord could very well be a borrowed chord from C Minor. In C Minor, it behaves as an ordinary non-tonic, non-dominant chord. In C Major, it will behave the same way.

In any cadence, it's the last two chords that are by far the most important. I wouldn't put any significance on the ♭VII part of a ♭VII - V - I cadence.

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