Circle Progressions (Music Theory Lesson)



Circle Progressions (Music Theory Lesson)

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Root motion is the movement from one chord's root to another chord's root.

To demonstrate root motion, we will use a I and a vi chord in C Major.




The root of the I chord (a C major triad) is C.




The root of the vi chord (an A minor triad) is A.




Therefore, the root motion between I and vi (C to A) is down a third.




Due to interval inversion, the root motion could also be classified as up a sixth.




Let's try another example: a IV chord going to V.




The root of the first chord (an F major triad) is F.




The root of the second chord (a G major triad) is G.




Therefore, the root motion of these two chords is up a second or down a seventh.




A circle progression occurs when root motion is equal to up a fourth or down a fifth.




Both I->IV and ii->V are circle progressions.




iii->vi and IV->viio are also circle progressions.




Let's work out all possible circle progressions for a major scale, starting at I.




• I progresses to IV, which progresses to viiº.




viio progresses to iii and then to vi.




vi progresses to ii and then to V and finally, to I.




Next, we will work out all possible circle progressions for a minor scale.




i progresses to IV and then to VII (not viiº).




VII progresses to III and then VI.




VI progresses to iiº, V (not v), and finally i.




This chart displays the circle progressions for both major and minor scales.













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