Chord Progressions

Interpretation Song construction

Chord Progressions – A series of chords that are often referred to in Roman Numerals such as I-IV-V-I.

There are many standard chord progressions that crop up time and time again in music.  Whether the composer has intentionally used a tried and tested a chord progression like the 12 bar blues, or whether a chord progression emerges from a piece of music, we can really see how these chord progressions are formed and used with SeeChord.

The ii-V-I chord progression crops up time and time again, often in larger sequences of chords.  It’s strength comes from the fact that it contains two perfect cadences, or two falling fifths.  On a SeeChord chart it simply looks like a straight falling line:

[seeChordViewer src=”/content/Application/Chord Progressions/blues3-viewer”]

The notorious “Giant Steps” by John Coltraine contains a series of these chord progressions that dance between three different keys.  The full chart is available in the library.

It is also common to see a IV(F) chord in the place of the G7, producing a chart like this:

[seeChordViewer src=”/content/Application/Chord Progressions/blues4-viewer”]

We can see an example of this in the so called “Fifties progression” exemplified in songs such as “Stand by me” and “Duke of Earl”.  Here it is:

[seeChordViewer src=”/content/Application/Chord Progressions/chordprogressions1-viewer”]

The most famous of all chord progressions is probably the 12 bar blues which is shown below in the key of C.

[seeChordViewer src=”/content/Application/Chord Progressions/chordprogressions2-viewer”]

It is interesting to note that in its simplest form here, there is no perfect cadence (V-I or G-C).  This is a noticible feature in SeeChord charts from the genre of rock which has its roots in the blues.  Paul McCartney songs often show this preference for a IV-I progression, as do Rolling Stones songs.

To see more blues variations and common chord progressions, visit the blues topic.

Interpretation Song construction

Blues chord progressions
Classical chord progressions
Beatles chord progressions
Circle of fifths chord progressions