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Game Over, Man!

The Chord Guide: Pt III


Chord Progressions
Posted on August 16, 2011

I have moved this guide to the site of my new magazine, PRISM. This has been my most
popular post on endofthegame, with over a thousand views daily, but pretty soon it will be taken
down from this blog, so if you want to bookmark the new page it can be found here.
Chord progressions are the canvas on which musicians paint their masterpieces, and its a canvas
which is a piece of art in itself. A chord progression can be subtle and in the background or it can
be blatant and up front; it can be simple and catchy, or it can be technical and complex, it can
stay in one key or it can change like the seasons. In any of these cases a chord progression is
what drives the song as it literally shapes the music that accompanies it. Chord progressions are

like a cozy home where melody and rhythm can kick their feet up. All the songwriting giants, like
John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Bob Dylan, to name a few, have/had a
tremendous knowledge of the art of the chord progression. Im not going to promise you
tremendous knowledge, but I will offer you a good head start in the way of making your own
music in an easily digestible chunk to boot. In a nutshell, I dont mean this guide to be a
comprehensive guide on the theory behind chord progressions that guide will come later, I
assure you.
This guide is meant to inject an interest in songwriting in new and old guitarists alike, I hope that
at some point after reading this you will pick up your old guitar, blow off the dust, and join me in
playing music. Music is the universal language of the human soul; it speaks more volumes about
us than a library full of words ever could, so learning to communicate in this language is a
wonderful ability to have. Read on, assimilate everything, and start making your own music! Play
for yourself, and others will listen, not the other way around music is a journey, a personal
voyage. I hope you have a blast playing these chord progressions! If you like, you can download a
print friendly word document version of this post.

Chord Progression Guide


This handy little guide will help all musicians create their own catchy chord progressions on the fly!
Included are two chord charts (one for major and one for minor) and a list of common
progressions that you can make, referring to the charts to help you. Note, I/IV/V is highlighted in
bold as its such a popular chord progression, this way you can easily see chord progressions you
can play without having to squint at the chart.

Major Chord Chart

Above is a chord chart for the 7 most used keys. To create a progression, simply follow a chord
progression formula (I is always the key of the progression). For example, a very popular chord
progression formula is I-IV-V (highlighted in bold on the chart), in the key of C, the chord
progression would be C/F/G, in the key of D the progression would be D/G/A. Another extremely
popular chord progression, arguably the most popular (used in hundreds of songs), is the I/V/vi/IV
(one-five-six-four). In C the chords would be C/G/Am/F and in G it would be G/D/Em/C. While
most chord progressions start with the key of the song (I), this is not always the case, for example
the very popular jazz chord progression ii-V-I in the key of C would be Dm/G/C or
Dm7/G7/Cmaj7. Even though the progression doesnt start on the C major chord, it is still in the
key of C as all the chords in the progression originate from its scale. Note that the vi (6th) note is
always the relative minor of the major scale. So for example, in C major, the vi is Am, while in F
major the vi is Dm.

Minor Chord Chart

Above is a chord chart for creating minor chord progressions. As I mentioned before, the vi is the
relative minor of any major scale. For example, youll notice that all the notes in Am are the same
as those iin C major in the first chart, and all the notes in Dm are found in F major and so on. This
is very useful to know as you can so you can mix and match major and minor progressions and
stay in the same key.
You can substitute the chords in the charts for different chord types, for example to play a chord

progression using 7th chords you can substitute all of the minor chords for minor7 chords,
substitute the major chords (I/IV) for major7 chords and substitute the V chord for a dominant 7th
chord. If you dont know these chords, or just need a quick reminder, heres a list of all of the
common open chords, and here is one for the barre chords.
Now for what you have been waiting for: a list of common chord progression formulas
which you can use to start writing songs straight away! You can even make up your own
chord progressions, or you can substitute major minor chords for 7ths of 9ths, so feel free to
experiment! Note: I have transcribed all of the major chord progressions into the key of C to make
it easier for you to simply start practicing as soon as possible, as even the absolute beginner
knows, or should be learning, the open chords in C major. But if you wish to play these
progressions in a different key, which Im sure you eventually will, you will have to do the work of
converting them yourself dont worry, its one of the easier and more useful things youll ever
have to learn to do!

Progressions With 2 Chords


I IV C/F
I V C/G

Progressions With 3 Chords


I IV V C/F/G
I IV V7 C/F/G7
I ii IV C/Dm/F
I iii IV C/Em/G
ii V I Dm/G/C

Progressions With 4 Chords


I IV I V C/F/C/G
I IV I V7 C/F/C/G7
I IV V I C/F/G/C
I IV V IV C/F/G/F
I V IV V C/G/F/G
I V vi IV C/G/Am/F
I vi V IV C/Am/G/F
I vi IV V C/Am/F/G
I vi ii V C/Am/Dm/G
I vi ii V7 C/Am/Em/G7
I vi iii IV C/Am/Em/F
I iii vi IV C/Em/Am/F

IV I IV V F/C/F/G
vi IV I V Am/F/C/G
I VI IV V C/A/F/G
ii V I vi Dm/G/C/Am

Progressions With 5 Chords


I vi ii IV V7 C/Am/Dm/F/G7
I vi ii V7 ii C/Am/Dm/G7/Dm
I ii iii IV V C/Dm/Em/F/G
I ii vi V I C/Dm/Am/G/C
I vi ii V I C/Am/Dm/G/C
I iii vi V I C/Em/Am/G/C

Progressions With 6/7/8 Chords


I IV I V7 IV I C/F/C/G7/F/C
vii iii vi ii V I IV Bm7b5/Em/Am/Dm/G/C/F
I IV I V7 IV I vi V C/F/C/G7/F/C/Am/G

Progressions With Flattened (b) Chords


I vib IV C/Abm/F
I iii IV vib C/Em/F/Abm
I iii viib IV C/Em/Abm/F
I viib IV V C/Abm/F/G

Natural Minor Chord Progressions


i VI VII Am7/Fmaj7/G7
i iv VII Am7/Dm7/G7
i iv v Am7/Dm7/Em7
i VI III VII Am7/Fmaj7/Cmaj7/G7
ii v i Bm7b5/Em7/Am7

Harmonic Minor Chord Progressions


i iv V Cm(maj7)/Fm7/G7
ii V I Dm7b5/G7/Cm(Maj7)

Melodic Minor Chord Progressions

ii V i IV vii III -vi Dm7/G7/Cm(maj7)/F7/Bm7b5/Ebmaj7#5/Am7b5

Modal Chord Progressions


1. (Ionian) I IV V I Cmaj7/Fmaj7/G7/Cmaj7
2. (Dorian) ii iii IV I ii Dm7/Em7/Fmaj7/Cmaj7/Dm7
3. (Phrygian) iii ii vi IV iii Em7/Dm7/Am7/Fmaj7/Em7
4. (Lydian) IV vi V iii IV Fmaj7/Am7/G7/Em7/Fmaj7
5. (Mixolydian) V IV I V G7/Fmaj7/Cmaj7/G7
6. (Aeolian) vi V IV V vi Am7/G7/Fmaj7/G7/Am7

Diatonic Progression Cycles


(2nds) I II III IV -V -VI -VII I C/Dm/Em/F/G/Am/Bm7b5/C
(7ths) I VII VI -V -IV -III -II I C/Bm7b5/Am/G/F/Em/Dm/C
(3rds) I III V VII II IV VI I C/Em/G/Bm7b5/Dm/F/Am/C
(6ths) I VI IV II VII V III I C/Am/F/Dm/Bm7b5/G/Em/C
(4ths) I IV VII III VI II V I C/F/Bm7b5/Em/Am/Dm/G/C
(5ths) I V II VI III VII IV I C/G/Dm/F/Em/Bm7b5/F/C
Progressions can be made from these cycles in any combination.
These can be applied to any of the 7 tone scales: Major, Melodic Minor, Harmonic Minor,
Harmonic Major etc

Jazz Chord Progressions


Note with jazz chord progressions you have to substitute the standard major/minor chords for
7ths (you can also play 9ths, 11ths or 13ths.) These are the basic chord substitutions: I = maj7, ii
= m7, iii = m7, IV = maj7, V = dom7, vi = m7, VII = m7b5. I have omitted all the 7s in the formulas
simply because they look messy (ii/V/I looks cleaner than iim7/V7/Imaj7). I have only included a 7
in the formula if the chord is untypically given a 7th note, eg II7 (D7) when it is usually ii (dm7).
Since these progressions are catered for jazz, all chords should be played as 7ths or 9ths etc.
ii V Cmaj7/G7
ii V I Dm7/G7/Cmaj7
ii V I vi Dm7/G7/Cmaj7/Am7
I vi ii V Cmaj7/Am7/Dm7/G7
VI7 II7 V I7 A7/D7/G7/C7
iii vi ii V I Em7/Am7/Dm7/G7/Cmaj7
I vi ii V iii VI7 ii V Cmaj7/Am7/Dm7/G7/Em7/A7/Dm7/G7
I II7 ii V I Cmaj7/D7/Dm7/G7/Cmaj7

I I7 IV ivm7 iii VI7 ii V I Cmaj7/C7/Fmaj7/Fm7/Em7/A7/D/G7/Cmaj7)


ii V I IV vii iii vi Dm7/G7/Cmaj7/Fmaj7/Bm7b5/Em7/Am7
The last progression in this list is the ultimate one to practice as it contains all 7 notes of the major
scale play it in every key and get completely used to the sound that each chord makes and how
they fall into each other; this is perhaps the best thing you can do in terms of developing your
ear for chord progressions.
Heres a closer look at the last two chord progressions, Ill show you two ways of approaching
each progression (there are countless ways!) utilising both barre and open chords.
I I7 IV ivm7 iii VI7 ii V I

ii V I IV vii iii vi

Examples of Chord Progressions Used in Famous


Songs
I IV I V Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison
(G/C/G/D)
I V vi IV Let It Be by The Beatles
(C/G/Am/F)
I V IV Blue Sky by The Allman Brothers Band
(E/B/A)
vi IV V vi or i VI VII i Im Eighteen by Alice Cooper
(Em/C/D/Em)
I iii IV I The Weight by The Band
(A/C#m/D/A)
I ii iii IV V Like A Rolling Stone by Bob Dylan
(C/Dm/Em/F/G)
I vi iii IV Where is My Mind by The Pixies
(E/C#m/G#m/A)
I iii vi IV Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Israel Kamakawiwoole
(C/Em/Am/F)
I V II VI iii Hey Joe by Jimi Hendrix
(C/G/D/A/Em)
I II7 ii V I Girl From Ipanema by Antnio Carlos Jobim

(Fmaj7/G7/Gm7/Cmaj7/Fmaj7
I v IV V ii V ii -IV V Candyman by The Grateful Dead
(C/Gm/F/G/Dm/G/Dm/F/G)
P.S So long as you dont try to pass this guide off as your own, you are free to print this off and
make as many copies as you like, I give you 100% permission I made this guide to be used, so
use it!

Now go make some music!

This guide is a tribute to The Beatles: the masters of the chord progression. Their music
contains just about everything there is to know about the relationship between chords and
melody.

Be sure to check out the other guitar guides scattered throughout the site!
Chord Theory
Chord Guide: Pt I Open Chords
Chord Guide: Pt II Barre Chords
Song Lesson: The Girl From Ipanema
Scale Theory
The Mother of All Music Theory The Major Scale
Modes of the Major Scale
Jazz Guitar Bebop Scales
Natural, Harmonic, and Melodic Minor Scales

Modes of the Melodic Minor Scale


General Music Theory
Introduction to Music Theory University Course
If you liked this post, be sure to subscribe!
By Michael Cunningham @ endofthegame.net

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R E L AT E D

The Chord Guide: Pt I Open Chords


In "chord theory"

The Chord Guide: Pt II


Barre Chords
In "chord theory"

Song Lesson: The Girl


From Ipanema
In "guitar lessons"

The Chord Guide: Pt I Open Chords


In "chord theory"

The Chord Guide: Pt II


Barre Chords
In "chord theory"

Song Lesson: The Girl


From Ipanema
In "guitar lessons"

This entry was posted in chord theory, guitar lessons, music theory and tagged chord
progressions, chords, guide, guitar lessons, music theory, songwriting by Michael
Cunningham. Bookmark the permalink
[http://endofthegame.net/2011/08/16/chordprogressions/] .
53 THOUGHTS ON THE CHORD GUIDE: PT III CHORD PROGRESSIONS

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Kid Meatball
on November 9, 2011 at 11:32 AM said:

Great lesson! Just a little correction. The I/IV/V progression in C is C F G.

Like
caramellokoala
on November 9, 2011 at 11:40 AM said:

Oh wow, I really should have looked through the post for errors; that is embar
rassing! Thanks a million!

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ben
on November 12, 2011 at 8:17 AM said:

thanks for pointing that out, i was reading this and when i saw that got really con
fused, good lesson though thankyou caramelokoala!

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Jake
on November 11, 2011 at 5:16 AM said:

Couple things, this is fine as a basic chord structure but one of the most important
aspects of the minor keys are the leading tones. It makes the v chord a V, which is of
utmost importance, considering one of the strongest chord progressions is I IV V I. Of that
there is no argument. It also makes the VII a diminished vii. Also these chords that you
give for using flat chords areunconventional to say the least. If this is a guide to making
things sound good, Im in support. But it seems to be passing off as a lesson in music
theory. For that, it would be neccessity to go over predominant, dominant, secondary
dominants, the I64 chord, cadences, modulation, etc. I dont mean to attack this, but
were anyone to read this and use this as a guide to music theory, they would come out of
it with bad information.

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caramellokoala
on November 11, 2011 at 1:33 PM said:

Thanks for the reply, this is not meant to be a lesson in music theory, I have other
posts dedicated to that. Im not exactly sure how you saw this trying to pass off
as music theory. This is simply a quick guitar lesson to help people with chord
progressions and was not meant to be in depth at all.

Like
bammbamm1963
on July 6, 2012 at 8:53 PM said:

Thank you for your efforts. I appreciate someone taking the time to break
this down and simplify it.
Cheers and Thanks to StumbleUpon for getting me here.

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Trumpetblast
on November 16, 2011 at 1:56 AM said:

When in a minor key, because of the leading tone > tonic relationship, you usually use the
minor seven (vii). The major VII is diatonic (follows the key) but it more often used as a
subdominant of IV rather than a seven. Really good resource though!

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caramellokoala
on November 18, 2011 at 10:43 AM said:

Thanks for the correction!

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joknowswhy (Joellyn)
on November 18, 2011 at 10:40 AM said:

Thanks for the list of chord progressions. Im going to use the information for my piano
student tonight. Im going to have him play a few of the simpler progressions and make
him pick which one he likes best. Then he can practice it with a drum beat on his
keyboard.
Chords are great! It can make a student an instant musician.

Like
caramellokoala
on November 18, 2011 at 10:48 AM said:

Your very welcome! Im happy that students are going to benefit from me writing
this! Chords are the best have fun teaching your students!

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Nick
on November 27, 2011 at 7:01 AM said:

Thanks for the post! It was really helpful :)

Like
caramellokoala
on December 3, 2011 at 11:18 PM said:

No problem, Im glad you got something out of it! :)

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Jukejoint
on December 21, 2011 at 12:49 PM said:

Ty for the chart and post. For those of us who are learning both how to play, and write the
countless melodies in our heads, the last thing we want to deal with is too much info. You
gave just enough for basic comprehension of progression. Thank you for taking the time
to help others that share the love of music

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caramellokoala
on February 20, 2012 at 2:59 PM said:

Thank you for the kind words! Its people like you that make it all worthwhile :)

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Mike
on February 20, 2012 at 2:52 PM said:

Awesome post! I look forward to part 2!

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caramellokoala
on February 20, 2012 at 2:56 PM said:

Glad you like it! Part 2 is already published here


http://endofthegame.net/2011/08/16/openchords/
and part 3 here
http://endofthegame.net/2011/08/23/barrechord/
However, I might make part 4 a more advanced guide to creating chord progres
sions, and more of the music theory aspect, if you want to be notified when its

done be sure to subscribe!


Cheers

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Dannylee214
on March 12, 2012 at 2:03 PM said:

Whats a Ib? and how is it different from vii? In C major Ib would be Bmaj and vii would be
Bmin. Am I reading that wrong?

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endofthegame
on March 12, 2012 at 4:16 PM said:

Yes, Ib is a flattened first, so in C major it would be Bmaj as you said, vii would be
a B half diminished chord (or Bm7b5). There is a difference between a flattened
first and a seventh!

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Santa
on July 17, 2012 at 6:18 AM said:

Just a detail: The song is actually called Where is my Mind not Head by The Pixies :)
Besides from that, great lesson!

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endofthegame
on July 29, 2012 at 7:06 PM said:

Thanks for the heads up!

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Doug Smith
on October 6, 2012 at 2:42 PM said:

Girl From Ipanema was written by Antonio Carlos JobimStan Getz and Astrid Gilberto
performed it with him. Credit where credit is due. Nice article.

Like
endofthegame

on October 6, 2012 at 9:03 PM said:

Thanks for that, Ill edit it in.

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PRAVIN
on November 27, 2012 at 7:42 PM said:

its magic

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Eric
on December 10, 2012 at 4:42 AM said:

Just a typo I think; shouldnt paragraph 5 say the vi chord and not the iv chord? The
sixth tone of a major scale is the relative minor, I mean. Thanks for the page. Very cool.

Like
endofthegame
on December 10, 2012 at 3:43 PM said:

thanks for pointing out the typo! i imagine that wouldve confused the hell out of a
lot of people so im very grateful you brought it to my attention.

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play guitar
on April 7, 2013 at 4:57 AM said:

I think what you said was actually very reasonable.


But, think on this, suppose you were to write a awesome headline?
I mean, I dont want to tell you how to run your website, but suppose you added a
headline that makes people want more? I mean The Chord Guide: Pt III Chord
Progressions | END OF THE GAME is kinda vanilla. You could glance at Yahoos front
page and note how they create article headlines to grab viewers to open the links.
You might try adding a video or a pic or two to grab readers excited about what youve
written. Just my opinion, it could bring your posts a little livelier.

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endofthegame
on April 8, 2013 at 2:29 AM said:

This post alone has already had over 230,000 views and its only been up for
about a year. The title says all it needs to its the content that matters. Thanks
for your suggestion nonetheless.

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Jc
on December 16, 2013 at 3:52 AM said:

Is there a part 4.

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michaelcunningham300793048
on December 16, 2013 at 11:31 AM said:

Nope.

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Martha
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Thank you for the chord charts! Great article. I began playing music by ear, but my piano
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