Common Chord Progressions (Music Theory Lesson)



Common Chord Progressions (Music Theory Lesson)

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Although hundreds of different chord progressions are possible, most tend to follow a pattern.

In a major key, the goal of any chord progression is the I chord.




The rest of the pattern is based around the strongest ways to get to this chord.




An authentic cadence (V -> I) or (viio -> I) is the strongest way to approach a I chord.




Next, we use circle progressions.




The strongest way to approach V is a circle progression from ii.




The strongest way to approach viio is a circle progression from IV.




The strongest way to approach IV is a circle progression from I; however, since I is already on the chart, we will not repeat it.A circle progression from vi leads us to ii. A circle progression from iii leads us to vi.




The strongest way to get to iii is a circle progression from viio, which is already on the chart.




Finally, since I is the main chord of the scale, it can go to any other chord.




Now that the chart is complete, there are a few terms that you should learn.




Recall that the term ''dominant'' means the fifth scale degree. Since the V chord is built on the dominant, it is a dominant chord.




Since viio functions like V (by going to I), it can also be labeled as a dominant.




Hence, V and viio are dominants.




Since ii and IV come before V and viio, they are usually labeled as predominants.




Let's work out a chord progression using the chart. We will start at I.




Next, we can choose any chord. Let's go to vi.




Now, we can choose either ii or IV.




Let's go with IV.




Now, we can choose either V or viio. Let's go with V.




Finally, V takes us back to I. Our finished chord progression is: I->vi->IV->V->I.




The chord progression chart for minor scales is very similar to the major scale chart. There is only one main difference.




The strongest way to approach III is not viio. Instead, it is a circle progression from VII.




A circle progression from iv to VII completes the chart.




It should be noted that the charts do not have to be followed strictly. If a progression is not presented, a composer is not banned from using it.













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