Questions tagged [chord-progressions]

For questions about sequences of chords, and the relationship of one chord to the next. Typically questions about chord progressions should also be tagged harmony if asking about in depth concepts about them. Questions that are about abstractions of chord progressions use Roman Numeral analysis should also be tagged with Roman-Numeral and analysis if applicable.

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87 votes
14 answers
11k views

How do professional accompanying musicians (seem to) figure out songs instantly?

Sometimes, when I'm watching any TV show which has a live hired band for accompanying and they have a musician guest, the host will ask for them to sing something on spot (that wasn't really planned), ...
55 votes
4 answers
38k views

What are some chord substitutions for a I-IV-V blues progression?

I was watching a video of SRV and one of the things that really stood out was the fact that he seemed to have a different iteration of the I-IV-V turnaround - and made it look/sound effortless. Any ...
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41 votes
12 answers
26k views

Why do many songs in major keys use a bVII chord?

Based on my understanding of chord theory, the chords used in most modern popular songs are comprised of notes that occur in the scale of the tonic key for that song. The I, ii, iii, IV, V, vi, and ...
36 votes
5 answers
48k views

How to turn any (pop) song into a jazz song?

Quite often there are pop songs wich get covered in a jazz style. These covers are seen from youtube to tv. Now I tried doing something like this, with for example Bad Day by Daniel Powter. It's ...
28 votes
6 answers
5k views

How to create Chord progressions that make sense

I've been reading over Walter Piston's Harmony book, and it has been an eye-opener to say the least. I understand concepts like tension and release, voice leading and so forth, but I still don't ...
27 votes
7 answers
7k views

The function of Gm G♭ B♭ chord progression in "Shine On You Crazy Diamond"

Over the Christmas break I heard this programme on BBC radio: Shine On You Crazy Diamond David Gilmour discusses his famous four-note motif B♭ F G E but what wasn't discussed and I wished had ...
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27 votes
3 answers
8k views

What are some common jazz chord progressions?

What are some common progressions for Jazz improvisation? I have been playing with ii-V-I and variations -- what are some others? Is the answer here just to really dig through standards until I've '...
25 votes
10 answers
4k views

Randomly and Programmatically generate a "good" next chord?

I am a Software Developer/Musician who has free time before summer classes start up. I wanted to sharpen my chord reading and improvising skills. What I would like to do is generate a phrase of ...
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23 votes
6 answers
70k views

What is a secondary dominant chord?

What is a secondary dominant chord? What's the theory behind them? How are they used in composition?
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23 votes
3 answers
8k views

What are the four chords that so many pop songs are based on?

Apparently, a lot of pop music is based on the same four chords, the video does not say which those may be. Any idea what four chords they are talking about?
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22 votes
2 answers
19k views

What is a "Circle of Fourths" chord progression?

Are there any examples of songs that employ a Circle of Fourths that I might be able to practice along with? How does the progression tie in with different scales?
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21 votes
9 answers
35k views

How to improvise a walking bass line

When improvising or writing a walking bass line the bass note (usually the root of the chord) is played on the chord change, but how do you choose the other notes for a walking bass line? Is there a ...
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21 votes
5 answers
3k views

Can one measure the "distance" between chords? If so, how?

I was reading an article an the author gave the following sequence of chords: C A7 Dm G C I would like to measure the "distance" if there is such a thing between C and A7. Can this be done? In ...
21 votes
5 answers
3k views

Beatles - Because: Chord progression

I am currently looking at this tune but I'm a bit confused by a part of the progression. It seems to be using chords built mostly from the C# harmonic minor scale. So, my current understanding ...
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21 votes
3 answers
4k views

How to algorithmically find a chord progression for an infinite arbitrary melody?

My question is primarily about this piano performance: The number Pi is played with the right hand by mapping each digit to a note in the A minor scale: 0 1 2 3 ...
  • 311
21 votes
1 answer
2k views

Are there any machine-readable databases of chord progressions available?

I'm interested in doing some linguistics-inspired computational musicology on chord progressions and am wondering if there are any freely available databases of chord progressions. Obviously, I could ...
  • 3,097
20 votes
6 answers
8k views

Why is IV-iv-I an effective chord sequence in a major key?

An example of this is the song Nobody Home by Pink Floyd. The last line of the intro is, in a C major key: F Fm C % I think this sounds great, and in fact I often use such passages when ...
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20 votes
6 answers
39k views

Do all chords in a progression usually fit within a scale

I am wondering if when writing a chord progression, all the notes fit within a single scale. If not, what is the logic behind chord progressions?
20 votes
5 answers
5k views

Guide-lines for creating a simple chord-progression?

I am working on a computer program that generates a simple melody, based on a simple chord progression of four chords taken from the 7 triads of the C Major scale. The program is also supposed to ...
19 votes
4 answers
3k views

Why do these progressions sound good?

I have always wondered why these progressions sound so exiting. I don't really know how the I-IV-things work, so I'll just write the chords. An explanation of what's really going on would be much ...
19 votes
12 answers
45k views

Uses for augmented chords in composition

I've been studying for music theory for many years and I enjoy just writing little chord progressions and melodies to see what certain progressions sound like and how interesting I can make them. The ...
  • 46.5k
19 votes
3 answers
5k views

How can I generate nice-sounding random chord progressions?

I'm trying to write a computer program to generate simple random chord progressions. Is there a way of ranking chords based on how nice they will sound after the previous ones? Any advice would be ...
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18 votes
7 answers
5k views

How to escape the C Major trap when improvising on the piano

I play/practice the piano for some decades and when improvising (Jazz, Romantic, and sometimes even Baroque), I observe a certain magnetism of the C Major key. I'm able to play scales, arpeggios, ...
  • 507
18 votes
3 answers
63k views

When creating a bass line, how do I know what notes I'm allowed to use?

I've been playing bass for about two years now. I've learned plenty of beginner/intermediate songs and play with some friends about once a week. I have no problem playing the songs, but I kinda just ...
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18 votes
4 answers
3k views

How to interpret this chord notation?

How do you interpret this couple of notations? In Bar 2, Fm / Ab, what does the slash do? Do I play either chord or both? In addition, in Bar 3, what does the /9 mean?
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17 votes
7 answers
5k views

Which key signature to pick for this chord progression?

I wrote a song, with a simple four-chord progression. The chords are A - G - D - E and back to the A. Now, I am trying to identify the key of the song, and I have run into a problem. I originally ...
  • 637
17 votes
3 answers
3k views

Why does the chord progression Dmaj -> Emaj -> Bmaj sound good?

I looked up the chord progressions for all major and minor scale keys, but this combination doesn't match any of them. Why does it work well?
  • 273
17 votes
6 answers
871 views

My ear is not very well trained - what can I look for as easy hints when trying to identify a ii-V-I progression in blues music?

I'm looking to learn how to better analyze music I am listening to, and I'm having problems identifying ii-V-I progressions, especially when they're the basis for improvisation. What are some hints or ...
17 votes
1 answer
2k views

Locrian Harmony

I like utilizing modes in my the pieces I write, but there is one mode I've never been able to fully grasp and utilize and that is the Locrian mode. The chords that naturally occur in the Locrian ...
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16 votes
6 answers
38k views

How to make songs with chords that don't belong in a scale?

I've always wondered how come there can be a chord progression with some chord that doesn't belong in the particular scale... Moreover, how can it be possible that this progression is in any key at ...
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15 votes
7 answers
6k views

modulating from G major to G# major

I was asked to incorporate a modulation that goes one semitone up in a song initially written in G. So at some point it should go from G to G#. I am having a lot of trouble finding a relatively nice ...
15 votes
4 answers
13k views

The Chords in this progression sound great but don't belong together - so why do they work?

I am a songwriter and compose my own music to go with my lyrics. Most of my chord progressions follow common patterns like using a I V IV or I IV V with an occasional ii or iii or vi chord thrown in ...
14 votes
3 answers
4k views

Significance of pop songs with progressions that alternate one chord with one that's three semitones below it

I've noticed a couple of pop songs that use one chord progression that alternates between swapping one chord (either fifth or fourth) with one that's three semitones below it (to third or second): ...
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14 votes
7 answers
3k views

Can any diminished chord be used as V anywhere?

I've been playing with diminished chords as 'V' in ii-V-I progressions. I often use one of the three diminished chords in a ii-V-I progression -- I sharpen the 5th note of the scale and hang a ...
14 votes
5 answers
4k views

C#m in Am chord progression

I was listening this song; Chord progression is something like this; Am, E, F, C, Dm .(BTW His guitar is tuned half step down) And almost all solos are in A minor/...
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14 votes
2 answers
4k views

I wish you a merry Christmas: what is this chord progression called?

Is there a special term for this chain of secondary dominants V/IV, V/V, V/vi ? (or in C major: C,F,D,G,E,Am) It’s a frequent chord pattern in the era of Baroque and has also been used in the ...
13 votes
6 answers
2k views

What is the name of using a major chord instead of a minor chord at the end of a progression?

I've heard somewhere that there's a technique where you put a major chord where a minor chord is expected, and it creates a feeling of unexpectedness. If I recall, there's one in Hey Ya by OutKast: ...
13 votes
11 answers
24k views

Theory behind the change from a major chord to the same in minor

In many songs I hear the change from a major chord to the same, but minor. For example F A Bb Bbm. It sounds really nice to me and I'm wondering if there is a theory behind it. Is there a genre ...
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13 votes
5 answers
17k views

Why are four-chord songs (I-V-vi-IV) so prevalent?

Over time, many musicians have experimented with various chord progressions, but none has stood the test of time as the four-chord song. What is it about this progression (and its variations) that ...
  • 433
13 votes
5 answers
3k views

What chord is "A7+4"?

That's how it's notated and I think it's a really unusual notation. Could that be a synonymous notation for "A7sus4"? The key signature is E-flat.
  • 231
13 votes
6 answers
6k views

Why is a 2-5-1 progression so often associated with jazz?

Why is a 2-5-1 progression so often associated with jazz? Is there something inherent in this progression that makes it sound jazzy? Or rather, is it just that jazz people started to use it, ...
  • 131
13 votes
3 answers
29k views

What chord progressions are used in traditional Celtic music?

What chord progressions are most often used in traditional Celtic music, such as aires, jigs, and reels? For example, harmonies in classical music are dictated by the common practice rules and focus ...
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13 votes
2 answers
5k views

Why play out of scale notes as part of a chord?

So, I'm learning 'Stray Cat Strut' right now and came across something I'm not sure I understood. I have to say, I've only just begun to learn theory, so maybe that's why. Anyway, as far as I can ...
13 votes
3 answers
22k views

Using the Dorian Mode

I've been composing for years but know very little about modes, just stuck to major and minor. If I took a chord progression from Cmajor, ie I - IV - V - I which would be C,F,G,C and then switched ...
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13 votes
4 answers
13k views

How do you write successive, non-functional chord progressions?

Elements of non-functional harmony is ubiquitous among contemporary music creations. In most cases, it materializes in the way of non-functional chord progressions, which are characterized by its "...
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13 votes
1 answer
767 views

Help me understand this progression

A friend showed me this progression: G7, F#m7b5, B7, Em7, A7, Dm7, G7, CMaj7, Cm7, Bm7, Bdim7, Am7, Ab7, Bm7, Bb7, Am7, Ab7 For the most part, I understand that at its heart it is built on a I vi ii ...
  • 233
12 votes
11 answers
11k views

How common is the complete circle of fifths progression?

A complete circle of fifths progression would go (I)-IV-VII-III-VI-II-V-I, and it's taught that way in textbooks, but it seems to be rare in actual music. Could you give me any examples of songs that ...
  • 936
12 votes
4 answers
2k views

Chord progression where tonic chord does not appear at all

The song Weird Fishes (Arpeggi) by Radiohead has a chord progression which has been shared in a website and I believe it is more or less correct: Em7 F#m7 A A7 A6 Gmaj7 The song seems to be in ...
  • 233
12 votes
1 answer
1k views

What is a I♭ chord?

I was watching Music Matters' video on counterpoint when I came across this chord progression: | I V | I V IV | II♭ V I VI I♭ | II♭ V I || My question is what is a I♭ chord. Is this chord common? Is ...
12 votes
6 answers
3k views

Why does C9 sound so good resolving to D major 7

So, I have been playing this chord progression in the key of D major with the chords DM7, Bm7, GM7, C9, and I can't seem to figure out why the c9 resolves so nicely to the D major 7 chord. Is it just ...

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