I wonder why these 4 chords sound very good together and very common. No matter what kind of music I look at to I usually see these chord progression and very large amount of pop songs using this chord progession only. Actually I wonder it both in Music Theory and Physics context. Is there any such explanation maybe with its frequencies or something like that?

  • 3
    Ah, the Spanish or Andalucian sequence. Not that common.
    – Tim
    Commented Apr 15, 2020 at 12:49
  • 1
    @Tim: Oh, yes, very very common! almost like für Elise and lesson one. Commented Apr 15, 2020 at 13:56
  • Are you asking whether it sounds better starting in A minor, or in general? It is a fairly common progression but it would work equally well in any key.
    – nuggethead
    Commented Oct 20, 2022 at 10:10

5 Answers 5


This is the Andalusian Cadence:


i VII VI V progression or vi-V-IV-III


I've heard it by most beginners on piano or guitar player or songwriter.

What it is special? The bass-notes of this progression are part of an old mode (but the final chord is E major.

They are very popular in Spanish music, I have it also in the ear from Jesus Christ Superstar, but there are many other songs.

Look up here in this SE Andalusian Cadence or I bVII bVI progression

When you look up the roman numbers at Google you find a lot of examples and songs using this progression (Andalusian Cadence)

like this:


or this one:

The i VII VI V – The Andalusian Cadence This chord progression is not strictly in one single key as we would understand in diatonic theory. It is used very frequently and is quite an ancient musical movement, which predates the emergence of modern music theory. It’s sometimes called the Andalusian Cadence and it does have an exotic quality due the major V chord. In a perfectly diatonic progression, we would expect that V chord to be minor if we were in a standard minor key.


  • And I thought a cadence only involved the final two harmonies. There are four here.
    – Tim
    Commented Apr 15, 2020 at 19:11
  • in German we call the progression I-IV-V-I just: the cadence (the sequence of this 4 chords) Commented Apr 15, 2020 at 20:01
  • 1
    Also see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lament_bass
    – phoog
    Commented Aug 24, 2021 at 1:56

The sequence takes four chords from a minor key, starting with the tonic (Am), then sequentially working downwards (backwards), through the diatonic chords in that key - G (VII), F (VI), down to E (V - dominant), which pushes back to the tonic.

It's not that common - not even one percent of the thousands of songs I've ever played had this sequence. However, it is more common in Spanish influenced pieces, which often favour minor sonorities.

  • 1
    maybe less common across the big pool ;) en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… "Gethsemane (I Only Want to Say)" (1970) by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice Commented Apr 15, 2020 at 13:58
  • 1
    "it's not that common": It's all over the Renaissance and Baroque.
    – phoog
    Commented Aug 24, 2021 at 1:36
  • Might be interesting - given adverse comments - to find out roughly what percentage of pieces feature this sequence.
    – Tim
    Commented Aug 24, 2021 at 7:22

Besides the ethnic music his particula chord progression can be heard in Paul McCartney's "Beware my love" chorus part from 1976 "Wings at the speed of sound" Moreover, this chord progression is more often associated with harmonic minor due to bVI - #VII


It's a strong bass-line, walking down from the tonic to the dominant. Maybe a LITTLE more common than @Tim opines in his answer!

A reminder that there's more to harmony than the Cycle of 5ths.

  • Hit the Road Jack, Runaway, Malaguena. After that, what? The list must run into scores of well-known songs...
    – Tim
    Commented Apr 15, 2020 at 15:42
  • @Tim Verse of Sultans of Swing (though in Dm)!
    – moonwave99
    Commented Apr 15, 2020 at 16:49
  • 1
    NSYNC's "Bye Bye Bye." Simon & Garfunkel's "Hazy Shade of Winter" (allowing a bit of dim 7 in the guitar riff). Philip Glass's Koyaanisqatsi. Nina Simone's "I'm Feeling Good" (duck, here comes a bass line!) youtu.be/oHRNrgDIJfo?t=39 Commented Aug 23, 2021 at 12:59
  • "California Dreaming" has some variation on it as well.
    – user45266
    Commented Aug 23, 2021 at 22:14
  • @Tim also the first movement of Bach's toccata and fugue for organ in D minor, and also the lament bass, also known in its chromatic version the passus duriusculus.
    – phoog
    Commented Aug 24, 2021 at 1:55

Am G F E. Analyzed with Roman numerals it's i VII VI V.

It "works" because of the step-wise descenting bass, and it outlines a tonic/dominant pattern i ... V. Those are musical fundamentals, step-wise lines and tonic/dominant harmony.

You probably want to consider that i VII VI V and i v6 iv6 V are basically two expressions of the same idea: a descending bass, tonic to dominant, in minor. In major keys there is the progression I V6 vi iii6, which is similar in that it has a descending bass. Harmonizing a descending bass is popular thing.

However, there is no reason to ascribe some special status to this progression any more than other popular progressions like I IV V I, I vi IV V, etc. etc. Except to categorize it by the descending bass line.

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