Consider the first section (first 4 measures) of this song :enter image description here

I would like to make a basic analysis of the first 4 measures. My attempt :

  • the key is D minor

  • the chord progression is i--VI--iv--i--V (I am not really sure of the last i since the chord is a A Major which is not in the D minor scale degree and I don't really now how to deal with it. Also is there a name for this chord progression ? is it a famous chord progression ?

  • the chord progression resolves back to i

I would like to know if what I have done is correct, since I am beginning in music theory. any help would be appreciated. Also I would like to know what I could add to my analysis ?

  • You need to be aware that minor keys can contain more notes than those in the natural minor scale. There's a raised leading note in the harmonic minor, and a raised 6th note in the melodic minor. So A major is a chord which will be found in many works in key Dm. – Tim May 12 at 15:09
  • ir resolves to D Major which is the parallel key. – Neil Meyer May 12 at 17:02

I think you are pretty much right: The progression is i-VI-iv-V , which is one of the most common progressions you will hear today in popular music. (Notice that you have the chords named on the guitar notation on top of each bar)

The A major is the V chord. As you point out, D natural minor (1,2,b3,4,5,b6,b7) has an A minor as the V chord, so D natural does not have a dominant V. To solve this, the natural minor scale is modified to have a raised 7th, to what is called the harmonic minor scale (1,2,b3,4,5,b6,7). This scale has now a dominant V chord. This scale also has an augmented second interval between the b6 and 7, which gives an exotic sound and is not very traditional. To solve this, the melodic minor scale was introduced, with a raised 6th (1,2,b3,4,5,6,7).

This was a simplified introduction. But be aware of the three most common minor scales: Natural, Harmonic and Melodic minor.

To introduce that dominant V chord, which generates the motion back to the root, you will see an accidental in the bar, just like here, adding a sharp C in the bar containing the V chord.

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  • Can I say that VI prolongates i ? Because it is the same chords but with inversion ? – Dicordi May 26 at 17:46
  • @Dicordi I am not sure what you mean. It is not the same chord. The i chord is an Dm (D,F,A) and the VI is a Bb (Bb,D,F). They share two notes but differ on the third. However because they are similar, they have a similar chord function (same with the III chord), they all feel roughly like 'home' and work as substitutions. – hirschme May 26 at 18:09
  • @Dicordi So I guess in a "functional harmony" context, you could say the VI chord prolongates the i chord. But not because they are the same chord! (they aren't) – hirschme May 26 at 18:16

Your analysis is basically correct except for one minor detail in the first 2 beats of bar 4. The chord symbol on beat 1 indicates A4 but that doesn’t match the piano part. In this case I give more weight to the written piano part than the guitar chord so the A4 is wrong. The bass is A then above it are triplets playing F A D F E D, all notes in a Dm chord except the E which is a passing note. You called it a i chord and you’re partially right, that chord is a Dm/A, or i/V. The dominant A chord then comes on beat 3.

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It might be useful, depending on circumstance, to think of the first part of the song in the key of F. Meaning your chord progression (in F) is VI, IV, ii, and then the A7 is a leading chord into the key change to D major. This is not a "correct" analysis as such, but if you think of using the Aeolian mode of F, you should cover all the notes.

It does seem, that the 4th bar is an Asus4, A7, which is a nice kind of double tension before the key change.

Again, I must stress, this isn't a "correct" interpretation, but one that can be used in a pinch when you need to cover simple minor chord progressions like this.

I know personally, if I saw those chords when I was sightreading some changes and taking a solo, I would probably go straight to Aeolian in F, at least first time round.

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