How to Move Around
Chords of Music
Progressions are one of the most asked about music topics
A sequence of chords is what makes music flow from
one place to another. A composer of music may use one chord over many
measures to add melody and flavor to their music. Eventually they will
move to another chord to keep the song or music piece interesting.
In other cases the music may change chords on
every beat. What seems to elude most beginning students is what how
these musicians decide on what chord to use next.
Where to Start:
Quick frankly, you do need a good handle on
harmonic systems ( the
chords used in the musical scale or key signature that you will play or
write your song). We'll talk about basic progressions here to set a
foundation. In the next lesson playing them in close chord or easy
movement will be discussed.
take the C major scale as an example. The Major C Chord harmonic system
will be composed of the three major chords, three minor chords and one
diminished chord. ( C major, F major, G major, D minor, E minor, A
minor and B diminished)
It is absolutely possible to go from any chord to another chord. If it
sounds good to you then it is good. Even when it doesn't it creates a
new scenario or sets up an opportunity to go elsewhere to a chord that
resolves the odd sound.
Best advice I ever got was audition the sound. Try it several
ways and see what happens. Don't like the musical sound,
don't use it. OK, but what about common progressions?
There are tons of them, but you need to start slowly and get a few
ideas under your hat before you take off and harmonize the next great
Basic Two Chords Used in a Progression
The V and I chords can dominate a piece of music as they are
the two chords that stand out in the major harmonic system, and even in
the minor harmonic systems.
Chopin composed a several pieces of music where 70% to 90% of the song
used only these two chords. He added all sorts of expert level
techniques for scales melody, trills, and inversions to make these
popular songs of his time.
So it doesn't take lots of changes to have a chord
Most Common Major Chord Progressions
The use of the three major chords can form some of the most common
chord progressions used in rock and pop songs today.
Let's look at an example, using the I IV and V Chord Positions
Start with a simple change in the major chords:
IV V7 I
C F G7
This progression of major chords is a happy up beat
cadence found in many songs.
The V7 to I movement is called "GOING HOME", the dominant chord to
tonic. This chord action is so common you had better get to know it
cold. You will recognize it just by the feel when listening
to music, it's that feeling of satisfaction and resolution when this
shift takes place.
The V7 sets up a tension that just naturally resolves to the Tonic "I"
chord. More on a three seventh chord combination that is used in jazz
The Blues Chords Using Major Chords
The Blue 12 Bar Progression uses these three major chords. However,
they alternate heavily from I to IV then use a V7 to IV to I
sequence to come home and repeat the 12 bars. Here is the
typical 12 bar blues
progression (there are variations)
IV I I
substitute a V7 in place of I at the end to keeping repeating,
and then end with the I to finish.
Using All the Chords in Your System for
As stated before you have to try the chords out to see how they work
for you. I'm going to give you a chord progression that is
based on the circle of fifths idea.
It works very well to demonstrate a
dominate progression. And is based as discussed above for the
dominant chord to tonic movement of a fifth.
In the Creating Chords Workbook we discuss this in more detail and take
time to show you how it works and then how to optimize it for playing.
For this lesson we will discuss the concept of moving in fifths.
Starting out on the tonic you can choose to go to any chord you wish.
are going to start by simply moving in fifths down the chords.
first move will be from C chord down a fifth to F on our circle. Then
continue in that method to complete the series of chord movements.
OK, look at the fifth changes C to F to B dim (dim fifth movement) to
Em to Am to Dm to G7 and finally back to C.
Now we take that progression of chords and rearrange them
means root chord position, this is done purposely so you can see the
progression it is not the best way to play them, that's in the next
Our staff shows them in one
This can foul you up. So be clear the chord changes were fifth changes
down if you counted down a keyboard starting on an upper C. However, we
decide to play it at a different location. What you actually saw was a
fourth movement up on the staff.
To review this go back to the key signatures pages and review the fifth
and fourth relationships. If you have a piano you can play the chords
as shown above or start up high and play down the keyboard by fifths
for each chord.
Notice one thing here your hand always has the same shape when it plays
each of the root chords. That simple means you get to move your hand as
a whole and don't have to worry about moving your fingers around.
Except of course for the V7 chord.
The ii7 - V7 - IM7 Motion
At the end of the last progression we show the ii - V - I series. This
is incredibly common in the jazz world, to the point of being able to
play it so often it willbring you to tears using this order of chords
Here it is shown in the basic position. There
are inversions of this that can also be learned.
This is a tight movement of notes to accomplish this well known use of
chords. In the next lesson we will talk about the close chord changes
and common notes.
Advice on Learning About Music Flow
We touched on some typical examples of chord progressions and how to
start looking at them. Here is the best suggestion I can give you other
than working through tons of books.
Watch for a new video
class series to be coming your way in mid 2009. It will cover this
subject in 20 to 25 1 hour actual class room learning series and in a
never before taught.
In the mean time. Analyze other composers
music. See what they have done and reduce it back to the roman numeral
system. Take 10 pieces of music determine the chords, write them out,
figure out the harmonic system, and assign them numbers. Study the
order and before you know it you're going to start seeing patterns.
Go below to click on the next lesson and lets get closer to the chords.