Chapter 6

Chord Progressions

You may have noticed that we reference the intervals based on Roman numerals. It is imperative that you think in terms of the intervals rather than the letter name of the note. Referencing chord progressions by counting the intervals is far simplier than referencing a chord progression by the letter name of a chord.

Suppose you wish to start a chord progression on G. We will assume we are in 4/4 time and we will end the first measure on C, because that is up a fourth. So we have the following

G

?

?

C

I

   

IV

What chords should we use for the second and third chords? There are several options, but we will keep it simple. Any chord following G will be a strong progression, because the second chord follows the tonic. Let's use D major for the second chord. D is the dominant in the key of G. Now for the third chord let us choose a minor chord. Our choices are ii, iii, and vi. My vote is that we use vi, which is E minor. Thus, our chord progression now looks as follows:

G

D

Emin

C

I

V

iv

IV

The proof is in the pudding, so let us hear what it sounds like.

Midi File

It's not bad, but it leaves us a hanging with the sub-dominant as the chord in the last measure. So we will continue this piece of music, but at the end we will include leading tone because of its strong pull toward the tonic. The leading tone, or seventh tone, is F major. We will end the piece of music on the tonic to give it a sense of finality. We will also change the quarter notes to eight notes so the piece is not quite so plodding. We now have the following.

Midi File

The result is a piece of music with a nice chord progression. The progressions were strong and we started and ended on the tonic.

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