Skip to main content
50 votes
Accepted

Which key signature to pick for this chord progression?

Put it in key A. That's I, and D is IV, while E is V. The slightly awkward G is said to be a borrowed chord, from, in this case, A minor, the parallel key. It's theory, an observation, not a rule, ...
Tim's user avatar
  • 194k
28 votes
Accepted

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

This chord progression is common enough to have a Wikipedia page: I–V–vi–IV progression The 'axis of awesome' video you refer to is talking specifically about those chords in that particular order - ...
Нет войне's user avatar
26 votes
Accepted

What is a B-flat major chord doing in the key of A minor?

This is a very common concept known as the Neapolitan chord. In short, the Neapolitan chord is typically a major chord built on the lowered second scale degree; you'll occasionally see/hear it called ...
Richard's user avatar
  • 84.6k
23 votes

Randomly and Programmatically generate a "good" next chord?

There are several "chord maps" on the net which indicate chord successions; these may be a good starting point. The chord maps do not give any relative weights or probabilities to chords. A ...
ttw's user avatar
  • 25.5k
22 votes
Accepted

modulating from G major to G# major

Any readers may thank you more if the new key becomes Ab. Ab has only 4 flats in it, whereas G# has 8 sharps. The simplest, which always works, pretty well whichever key you're changing into, is to ...
Tim's user avatar
  • 194k
22 votes

What is a I♭ chord?

I think, based on the co.uk domain, and the instructor's accent, that those are not flat signs, but British inversion signs. a = root position b = first inversion c = second inversion I'm also ...
Michael Curtis's user avatar
21 votes
Accepted

What is the progression from A minor to F minor called?

Chromatic mediant is the technical name https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chromatic_mediant This is where the chord roots are a third apart and there is one common tone. So with Fm and Am you have: F, ...
Michael Curtis's user avatar
21 votes

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

The move from Gm to GbM is definitely not a standard “classical” progression, although it does start to happen more and more in the late Romantic era and in lots of Impressionist and other neo-tonal ...
Pat Muchmore's user avatar
  • 18.3k
21 votes
Accepted

Why does the iii chord seem to be usually avoided in many styles?

I'll go a slightly different direction with my answer and say that I think this is a misconception. And frankly, I blame lackluster textbooks for it. I recall Kostka/Payne's Tonal Harmony in my ...
Richard's user avatar
  • 84.6k
20 votes

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

In addition to No'am's nice answer, there are two further points I'd like to make: In most (all?) of your instances, note that the chord in question changes from major to minor. This is thus an easy ...
Richard's user avatar
  • 84.6k
19 votes
Accepted

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

Let's say a song is in the key of C; three semitones below this is the key of Am, which is known as the relative minor key. In the same way, chords which are 'three semitones below' (e.g. F and Dm, G ...
No'am Newman's user avatar
  • 1,663
19 votes

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

The original term - still used - is 'Tierce de Picardie', which translates to Picardy Third. No proof has emerged appertaining to the reason why Picardy was involved, except perhaps the major chord ...
Tim's user avatar
  • 194k
19 votes

Randomly and Programmatically generate a "good" next chord?

Formal Grammars I have done some research on formal grammars for composition. A formal grammar G = (V, S, P) consists of a vocabulary V, a starting symbol S in V, and replacement rules P. A rule ...
Lucius's user avatar
  • 291
18 votes
Accepted

Why do these chords from the plastic bag scene in American Beauty work?

In addition to Tim's great answer, we can also conceptualize this as being in C Dorian. The Dorian mode is a major scale with a lowered third and seventh. C Dorian would thus have E♭ and B♭. I think ...
Richard's user avatar
  • 84.6k
18 votes

Using chord iii in a chord progression (major key)

iii is used, I'm not sure where you heard that it wasn't really used much. Sure, you could argue that it's used less than other diatonic chords, (Em in the chart for chords, according to this site), ...
user45266's user avatar
  • 12.7k
16 votes
Accepted

How do I correctly borrow chords from one key to another?

The term "borrowed chords" relates to borrowing from the parallel major or minor. This is also called "mode mixture." At its most basic, when we're in a given key, we can use chords from the parallel ...
Richard's user avatar
  • 84.6k
16 votes

Can the same song be written in a minor key and major key with the progression written differently?

The scale/chords are good clues to the key of a song, but at least as important is the tonal center. That's not as easy to define but generally it's where the song comes back to a place of less ...
Todd Wilcox's user avatar
  • 56.9k
16 votes
Accepted

Sharps used in Super Mario theme

You are right, this piece is in the key of C major. There are countless songs written in C major, or any other major key that don’t use any notes outside the major scale or any chords outside the 7 ...
John Belzaguy's user avatar
15 votes
Accepted

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

Where my confusion really comes in is that if the song is in the key of G does that mean I'm only allowed to play the notes in that scale (G,A,B,C,D,E, F#)? The key of a song does not determine ...
Vector's user avatar
  • 6,833
15 votes

How do I know what patterns to play under a melody?

This is where your musicianship skills become useful. (Or where you realise you need some!) Write down the melody and show it to us as notation. Then we know what we're talking about. Hint: You'll ...
Laurence's user avatar
  • 93.3k
15 votes

What chord is "A7+4"?

This answer assumes that 7#11 chords are equivalent to 7b5 chords, and it uses the two symbols interchangeably. I acknowledge that there are in fact some pedantic differences between the two, but for ...
user45266's user avatar
  • 12.7k
14 votes
Accepted

What chord progressions are used in traditional Celtic music?

There are many English folk songs and Celtic tunes and airs that use the Dorian Mode, Mixolydian Mode, and the Aeolian Mode (the Aeolian is perhaps not as exotic as the other two, so maybe these don't ...
Jerry Rockwell's user avatar
14 votes

Are there scales and chord progressions particularly used in Rag music?

Structurally ragtime harmony is pretty much classical tonal harmony, but there are some idiomatic specificities that give ragtime its characteristic sound. One progression very characteristic of ...
José David's user avatar
  • 4,244
14 votes
Accepted

Are chord progressions used in classical music?

I think your terminology is a bit off here. Nothing about a chord progression requires repetition although a lot of more modern pieces will use progressions that repeat, it does not speak for all ...
Dom's user avatar
  • 47.7k
14 votes

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

To understand the prevalence of the ii-V-I in jazz, there are three good places to look: ragtime, Tin Pan Alley, and blues. Ragtime Ragtime was characterized by something called the "Ragtime ...
jdjazz's user avatar
  • 11.2k
14 votes
Accepted

Chord exceptions in City of New Orleans

The chords you've listed in your table are what we call the diatonic triads of a key. "Diatonic" basically just means "within the key," so the diatonic triads are what are created when we only use the ...
Richard's user avatar
  • 84.6k
14 votes
Accepted

Using chord iii in a chord progression (major key)

Kostka/Payne is one source that explains the iii chord is used relatively infrequently. But they don't simply say it isn't used. You can account for iii's use (or any other diatonic chord) through ...
Michael Curtis's user avatar
14 votes

Why does C9 sound so good resolving to D major 7

This resolution is called a backdoor cadence, which part of another common progression referred to as the backdoor ii-V, and it is used often in jazz standards. This article from educator Anton ...
Peter's user avatar
  • 6,506
14 votes
Accepted

What purpose do chords serve in music?

Basically what you're asking is "what is tonality." And the first disclaimer is that hasn't always been "a thing" in Western music, and isn't always in other music-cultures. Just ...
Andy Bonner's user avatar
  • 17.4k

Only top scored, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible