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Encyclopedia > Chord progression

A chord progression (also chord sequence and harmonic progression or sequence), as its name implies, is a series of chords played in order. Chord progressions are central to most modern European-influenced music and the principle study of harmony. Compare to a simultaneity succession. A chord change is a movement from one chord to another and may be thought of as either the most basic chord progression or as a portion of longer chord progressions which involve more than two chords (see shift of level). Typical fingering for a second inversion C major chord on a guitar. ... For other uses, see Music (disambiguation). ... Harmony is the use and study of pitch simultaneity, and therefore chords, actual or implied, in music. ... In music and music theory a simultaneity succession is a series of different groups of pitches or pitch classes, each of which is played at the same time as the other pitches of its group. ... A level (van der Merwe 1989, also tonality level, Kubiks tonal step, and John Blackings root progression) is a temporary modal frame contrasted with another built on a different foundation note. ...

Generally, successive chords in a chord progression share some notes, which provides harmonic and linear (voice leading) continuity to a passage. In the common-practice period, chord progressions are usually associated with a scale and the notes of each chord are usually taken from that scale (or its modally-mixed universe). In music, voice leading is the continuity between pitches or notes played successively in time. ... The common practice period, in the history of European art music (that is, what is popularly called classical music), encompasses those periods identified as Baroque, Classical, and Romantic. ... In music, a scale is a set of musical notes that provides material for part or all of a musical work. ...

## Contents

The most common chord progressions, in the common practice period and in popular music, are based on the first, fourth, and fifth scale degrees (tonic, subdominant and dominant); see three chord song, eight bar blues, and twelve bar blues. The chord based on the second scale degree is used in the most common chord progression in Jazz, II-V-I. Popular music is music belonging to any of a number of musical styles that are accessible to the general public and are disseminated by one or more of the mass media. ... In music, see: Perfect fourth Augmented fourth or tritone The subdominant, and the chord built on the subdominant, is often simply called the fourth as it is the fourth scale degree. ... Fifth may refer to: One fifth, a quintile, or 20% of a certain amount The fifth in a series, or four after the first In the United States, the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution especially as in the expression Taking the Fifth. Fifth (Stargate), a robotic character in... In music or music theory a scale degree is an individual note of a scale, both its pitch and its diatonic function. ... The tonic is the first note of a musical scale, and in the tonal method of music composition it is extremely important. ... In music, the subdominant is the technical name for the fourth tonal degree of the diatonic scale. ... In music, the dominant is the fifth degree of the scale. ... A three-chord song is a song whose music is built around three chords that are played in a certain sequence. ... An eight bar blues is a typical blues chord progression, taking eight 4/4 bars to the verse. ... The 12-bar blues has a distinctive form in both lyrics and chord structure. ... In music or music theory a scale degree is an individual note of a scale, both its pitch and its diatonic function. ... For other uses, see Jazz (disambiguation). ... ii-V-I is a very common chord progression used in a wide variety of music genres. ...

As stated by Tom Sutcliffe on harmony.org.uk:

“… during the 1960's some pop groups started to experiment with modal chord progressions as an alternative way of harmonising blues melodies. . . . This created a new system of harmony that has influenced subsequent popular music.”
“The use of modal harmonies to harmonise the blues came about because of the similarity of the blues scale to modal scales . . . by experimentation with the possible uses of major chords on the guitar. This phenomenon thus probably derives from the characteristics of the guitar and the way it is used in popular music. This is also linked to the rise in the use of power chords.”

Sutcliffe’s hypothesis is that major chord combinations such as: I , bIII , IV, V and bVII cannot be explained in pure modal terms as, in this combination, these don’t exist in the usual modes. They have to be explained as a new harmonic system combining elements from the blues and elements from modality.

The circle of fifths progression is generally regarded as the most common progression of the common practice period, involving a series of descending perfect fifths that often occur as ascending perfect fourths. The circle of fifths makes up many of the most commonly used progressions, such as II6, V, I in major. In music theory, the circle of fifths (or cycle of fifths) is an imaginary geometrical space that depicts relationships among the 12 equal-tempered pitch classes comprising the familiar chromatic scale. ... In music the common practice period is a long period in western musical history spanning from before the classical era proper to today, dated, on the outside, as 1600-1900. ...

### Common progressions used in contemporary popular music

• Twelve-bar blues
• I - vi - IV - V : the 50s progression. Modern examples include "Jesus of Suburbia" (Green Day), "Welcome to my Life", Simple Plan, (also I - vi - ii - V)
• I - V - vi - IV : for example 'Dammit' (Blink-182), 'Feeling This' (Blink-182), 'No Woman, No Cry' (Bob Marley), 'Farmhouse' (Phish) 'Glycerine' (Bush), 'With or Without You' (U2), 'Let It Be' (The Beatles), 'On Fire' (Switchfoot), 'Hide and Seek' (Imogen Heap). In fact, almost all pop punk bands have at least several of their songs encompassing this chord progression. This progression uses the same chords as the 50s progression, in a different order.
• I - I - IV - V : for example the verse of 'Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)' by Green Day and the verse of Blitzkrieg Bop by The Ramones.
• i - bVI - bIII - bVII : a progression in minor. One of the most common progressions nowadays. Used in many genres, including pop, rock, techno, punk, metal and many others. For example, 'The Kids Aren't Alright' (The Offspring), 'Dammit I Changed Again' (The Offspring), 'Self Esteem' (The Offspring), 'Crawling' (Linkin Park), 'Numb' (Linkin Park), 'Hands Held High' (Linkin Park), 'Don't Drag Me Down' (Social Distortion), 'Let U Go' (ATB), 'Jokero' (Akcent), 'Believe' (Yellowcard), 'Holiday' (Green Day), 'White Shadows' (Coldplay), 'My Happy Ending' (Avril Lavigne), 'Behind These Hazel Eyes' (Kelly Clarkson), 'Pieces' (Sum 41), 'Still Waiting' (Sum 41), 'Zombie' (The Cranberries), 'Save Tonight' (Eagle-Eye Cherry), '(*Fin)' (Anberlin), 'Disarm' (Smashing Pumpkins). Sometimes, V or V7 can be used instead of, or with, bVII.
• Any combination of the chords I , IV and V.
• I - II - IV: e.g., Stay With Me (The Faces), Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts club Band (The Beatles)
• I - $flat$VII-IV : came into prominence from the late 60's onward with gospel/country/blues influenced rock. bVII, is a major chord as opposed to the "natural" seventh chord (viidim) which is diminished, and is also known as the "Mountain 7" chord in old-timey and country circles e.g 'Sweet Home Alabama' (Lynard Skynard), 'Gloria' (Van Morrison), 'With A Little Help From My Friends' (REF) (Beatles), 'Sympathy for the Devil' (w/ 'V') (The Rolling Stones), 'Takin' Care Of Business' (Bachman-Turner Overdrive), 'Ain't That America' (John Cougar Mellencamp), 'Can't You See' (Marshall Tucker Band), 'I Can See Clearly Now' (REF) (Johnny Nash), 'The End' (w/ 'bIII') (The Doors), 'More Than A Feeling' (intro & vs) (Boston (band)), 'Paradise City' (Guns N' Roses), 'R.O.C.K. In The U.S.A.' (John Cougar Mellencamp), 'Beautiful Girls' (ending tag) (Van Halen)
• i - $flat$VI - IV : e.g.,'Heart Shaped Box' (Nirvana) (first chord can be major)
• i - $flat$III - $flat$VII - IV : 'Mad World' (Tears for Fears), 'Wonderwall' (Oasis) and 'Boulevard of Broken Dreams' (Green Day) (First chord can be major (I-$flat$III-$flat$VII- IV): e.g., 'Bohemian Like You' (The Dandy Warhols))
• I - $flat$III - IV : e.g., the guitar solo from 'Free Bird' (Lynyrd Skynyrd)
• I-$flat$VI-$flat$VII : e.g., 'All I Wanna Do' (Sheryl Crow)
• i-$flat$III-IV-$flat$VI : 'House of the Rising Sun' (The Animals) (First chord can be major)
• i - $flat$VII - $flat$VI - $flat$VII : e.g 'Don't Fear The Reaper' (Blue Oyster Cult) (first chord can be major)

## Rewrite rules

Steedman (1984) has proposed a set of recursive "rewrite rules" which generate all well-formed transformations of jazz, basic I-IV-I-V-I twelve bar blues chord sequences, and, slightly modified, non-twelve-bar blues I-IV-V sequences ("Rhythm changes"). It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Generative linguistics. ... The term well-formed, when used by itself, can refer to: A formula in logic: see WFF The way in which an HTML tag has been used in web page design: see well-formed tag This is a disambiguation page &#8212; a navigational aid which lists other pages that might... In music, a transformation consists of any operation or process that a composer or performer may apply to a musical variable (usually a set or tone row in twelve tone music). ... In jazz, rhythm changes are a modified form of the chord progression of George Gershwins song I Got Rhythm, which form the basis of countless (usually uptempo) jazz compositions. ...

The original progression may be notated as follows (typical 12-bar blues): (Redirected from 12 bar blues) Twelve bar blues is a typical blues chord progression, taking twelve 4/4 bars to the verse. ...

` 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 I/ I/ I/ I// IV/IV/ I/ I// V/ V/ I/ I `

Where the numbers on the top line indicate each bar, one slash indicating a bar line and two indicating a phrase marking, and the roman numerals indicating the chord function. Important transformations include

• replacement or substitution of a chord by its dominant or subdominant:
` 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 I/IV/I/I7//IV/VII7/III7/VI7//II7/V7/I/I// `
• use of chromatic passing chords:
` ...7 8 9... ...III7/bIII7/II7... `
• and chord alterations such as minor chords, diminished sevenths, etc.

Sequences by fourth, rather than fifth, include Jimi Hendrix's version of "Hey Joe" and Deep Purple's "Hush":

` 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 bVi, bIII/bVII, IV/I/I//bVI, bIII/bVII, IV/I/I//bVI, bIII/bVII, IV/I/I// `

These often result in Aeolian harmony and lack perfect cadences (V-I). Middleton (1990, p.198) suggests that both modal and fourth-oriented structures, rather than being "distortions or surface transformations of Schenker's favoured V-I kernel, are more likely branches of a deeper principle, that of tonic/not-tonic differentiation." Aeolian harmony (Björnberg 1985) is harmony or chord progression created from chords of the Aeolian mode: Im, bIII, IVm, Vm, bVI, and bVII. There are common subsets including: Im-bVII-bVI, Im-IVm-Vm, and blues minor pentatonic derived chord sequences such as I-bIII-IV, I-IV, bVII... In Western musical theory a cadence (Latin cadentia, a falling) is a particular series of intervals (a caesura) or chords that ends a phrase, section, or piece of music. ...

## Sources

• Middleton, Richard (1990/2002). "Studying Popular Music". Philadelphia: Open University Press. ISBN 0-335-15275-9.
• Steedman M.J., "A Generative Grammar for Jazz Chord Sequences", Music Perception 2 (1) (1984) 52-77.

The passamezzo moderno (modern half step) was one of the most popular harmonic formulae in the Renaissance period, divides into two complementary strains thus: I|IV|I|V||I|IV|I-V|I|| (Middleton 1990, p. ... A three-chord song is a song whose music is built around three chords that are played in a certain sequence. ... Tonality is a system of writing music according to certain hierarchical pitch relationships around a key center or tonic. ...

Results from FactBites:

 Chord Progression Glossary (4402 words) Chord names identified by the note which is the root of the chord where this note is described by its alphabetic name. Polarisation of chord progressions can be shown to increase considerably once non-functional chords (passing chords, appoggiatura chords, auxiliary chords) are eliminated from the analysis thus supporting the idea that these types of chords are non-structural in nature. The chord on the first degree of the scale), II the supertonic chord (the chord on the second degree of the scale) and V the dominant (the chord on the fifth degree of the scale).
More results at FactBites »

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