Chord Progressions

Chord Progression can mean two things. It’s either a chord progression in a song or a chord progression of a Scale. What is the difference you might ask. Well there is none. What is important to understand is that the Major Scale is not only  a series of single notes  Do – Re – Mi – Fa – So- La – Ti – Do but as well a series of chords. It’s a Chordal System. So for each note or interval/position there is a respective chord in the scale. Now if a song is, let’s say, in the G-Major key signature it means the chords used in that particular song are all found in the G-Major Scale Chord Progression. But instead following the scale you rearrange the chords into a new structure. The most used chords are some permutations of 1-4-5.  You have to learn what type of chord resides in each position.

You can either think about the chord-progression system as simple Triad chords (three note chords) or as extended seventh chords (4 note chords). Let’s start by looking at the extended system and then simplifying it.

  • The Root, 1st or 8th is like the name suggests Major7 because it’s the major scale.
  • The second interval or degree of the scale is Re and that is a Minor7 chord.
  • The third interval is Mi which is as well a Minor7
  • The fourth interval is Fa which is a Major7 Chord
  • The fifth interval is So which is the only 7th or Dominant seventh within the Major Scale.
  • The sixth interval is Minor7 which is the main Minor chord in the Chord progression (if a song is in Minor this is usually the first chord in the song)
  • The seventh interval is the Minor7flat5 chord which is kind of the odd one out.
The formula for the G-Major Chord Progression would thus be
G-Major7 ;  A-Minor7;  B-Minor7;  C-Major7; D-7th;  E-Minor7; F#-Minor7b5 

The triad chords are just simplified versions of the seventh and can be super imposed.  Instead of the Major7th & Dominant 7th i could simply play the Major Triad chord. It’s not wrong in the sense that a major triad has 3 out of four notes found in for mentioned chords. Look at and learn this chart by heart.

  • Roman Numerals are sometimes used to distinguish single note intervals from Chord positions but as you can see in the chord progression video i’m not to stressed about the Roman Numeral representation. That said you should at least recognize that way of writing chord progressions.

Chord Progression Formula

This brings me back to the concept of a chord progression. What is a 1-4-5(I-IV-V) chord progression? The one stands for the first chord in the Scale or the Root Major Seventh or Major Triad Chord. The Four stands for the Fourth Chord in the Scale progression which is a Major 7th chord or a Major Triad and lastly we have the fifth chord which is the Dominant Seventh Chord or a Major Triad. So now we know the formula for the song instead of say G – C – D we can say one four five. This makes the idea of transposing songs e.g. moving them to different keys easier.

If I want to transpose(change keys) a song then first I need to know the formula. A  “G-C-D” song is a 1-4-5(I-IV-V) Chord Progression in the G Major Scale.  But if I apply the formula to the A Major scale then the root chord would be A the fourth is D and finally the fifth chord is E.  Remember it’s easy to find out what notes or intervals are in the any key/scale. Start by looking at the Low E and A string. Find the note/key you want to study on the Low-E string and play the Major Scale Pattern (this one in particular) from that fret. So if I want to find out what chords/notes are in the A major Scale you only need to move the Major Scale pattern in the video down to the fifth fret because the A note is located on the 5th fret Low-E string.  Play the Major Scale Pattern unchanged and “check” what notes are in the Scale. If you haven’t learned the whole neck yet which is likely if you are reading this then just have the fretboard diagram handy.

Ready for action? Let’s start by assigning Chord types to each position of the Major Scale. In this video I go over the chords found within the Major Chordprogression in G.

Secondly we can extend the system to 7ths adding the fourth interval/note to the chords making them sound more complicated/jazzy.

Lastly we can compare the Triad progression in G to the same chord progression in A moving the system up one whole tone. The system stays the same but moves horizontally up one whole tone or 2 frets.

And then we extend the Chord Progression into 7th chords (4 note chords).