~ chord progressions ~

~ ~

'a stepwise evolution of the harmonic motion diatonically created from within one key center ...'

telling a story
hearing chord progressions
#'s 1 through 7 major

#'s 1 through 7 minor

the diatonic 3 and 3
by 1/2 step or fourth
 
D7 G7 C7 F walk down to D ... 8 bars
cycles of V7 chords
 
comparing the diatonic chords
hearing chord progressions
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

~ motion to Four ~ 15856 / 3 of IV~

~ motion from Four to One ~

~ common chord progressions ~

~ major & minor ~ letters & numbers ~

~ cadential motions ~

 

start points
b
h
h
styles
subdivide

In a nutshell. In this Essentials theory text, there are two basic ways we approach chord progressions. In the first we rely on our core philosophy of 'how many do we have', in this case chords, in our song or progression that that places it within an established style. The second approach revolves around motion between the One and Four chords and vice versa, Four to One. For in nearly every song in every style, Four is the destination for where the story goes.

numerical core philosophy
One
Four

That the music we each love to listen to and play is the best source for the chords we need to feed the bulldog cannot be overstarted here. What good is all the theory mumbo jumbo if we struggle to play songs we dig. That said, composers of songs will have additional tasks to examine. Those who arrange for guitar also open up an infinite number of ways to explore where the theory helps to keep the feet on firm ground even when venturing out on more dicey harmonic limbs.

valence
diatonic
major / minor

motion to Four is the priority

starts on One / Two / Four / Five / etc.

Good lovin in E. In this Essentials text, the theory basis of the harmonic motions we use in telling our stories with the Americana musical language simply revolves around both the ascending and descending motions between the One and Four chords and vice versa, Four to One.

Americana musical language
One
Four

The first valence of this becomes the diatonic motions between these points in either the major or minor key center. This is the basis of most folk musics. Our next valence begins to blend the elements of these two core environments together, borrowing one from another, most often filling in the points between One and Four.

valence
diatonic
major / minor

So how we get from One to Four, or Four to One and then back again, to whichever one we started out on, in our diatonic major and minor ways and their mixing, becomes the theory nut we plant to grow our view and understanding of our Americana harmonic motions within this Essentials text.

philosophy of this text

Overview. Understanding the theory of diatonic harmony confirms for us the near artistic equality of the One and Four chords in composing our music. The One chord might be the center of attention but motion to Four is equally adept at getting our hair to stand up. So what lives in between these two compositional balance points becomes the basis of our theory adventures and machinations in the following discussions.

In a nutshell. Within a key center, a chord progression is simply a series of succesive chords with a beginning and end that supports the tension and release dynamic created by the melody. In learning that there's many tried and true progressions for supporting all kinds of melody lines in any style, we realize that we can find any of the diatonic chords starting off our progression.

'rule of 18'
philosophy
American song
American song
music notation

sp

Chord progressions ~ start points. Within a key center, a chord progression is simply a series of succesive chords with a beginning and end that supports the tension and release dynamic created by the melody. In learning that there's many tried and true progressions for supporting all kinds of melody lines in any style, we realize that we can find any of the diatonic chords starting off our progression.

'rule of 18'
philosophy
American song
American song
music notation

Chord progressions ~ starting on Four. Within a key center, a chord progression is simply a series of succesive chords with a beginning and end that supports the tension and release dynamic created by the melody. In learning that there's many tried and true progressions for supporting all kinds of melody lines in any style, we realize that we can find any of the diatonic chords starting off our progression.

'rule of 18'
philosophy
American song
American song
music notation

In a nutshell. Since the 1500's or so, we string players have had the changes. Our early lutes were built to the 'rule of 18' fame, thus creating equal tempered pitches and tunings capable of creating a functioning harmony. American song describes the spectrum of the styles of music we each love. Combined, our study here follows our core pathway; that by gradually expanding our pitch resource in composing our musical styles evolve.

 

As theorists, in any of our musical styles that have chords to back the melody, we've the potential to create corresponding numerical equivelents for the letter names that identify the chords. Of course we already do this as in a C7 chord, combine letters and numbers. Here we go a step further and identify a key center and create corresponding numerals for its pitches. As we've applied this principle to scales, arpeggios and chord tones, we can apply it to chord progressions.

'rule of 18'
philosophy
American song
American song
music notation

This will run more along with musical form and phrasing 4 bars 8 bars key to the highway 12 bar blues ...

start diatonic and add in other five pitches

The advancing theorist. Theorists already in the know of the diatonic chord motions can simply move beyond into the next level by creating progressions which borrow chords from other keys. Nine times out of ten we're simply spicing up the diatonic, but chances are all nine of these times we add a window of opportunity to advance the challenge of our art. For improvising musicians playing through the changes, this is a core of their evolutionary and ascension process .

improvisation
music notation

Progressions; One / Four / Five / One ~ major / minor. At the basis of our American chord progressions is the One / Four / Five.

Major and minor.

Numbers / key center.

heorists already in the know of the diatonic chord motions can simply move beyond into the next level by creating progressions which borrow chords from other keys. Nine times out of ten we're simply spicing up the diatonic, but chances are all nine of these times we add a window of opportunity to advance the challenge of our art.

Progressions with diatonic Six.

; One / Four / Five / One ~ major / minor. At the basis of our American chord progressions is the One / Four / Five.

Major and minor.

Numbers / key center.

heorists already in the know of the diatonic chord motions can simply move beyond into the next level by creating progressions which borrow chords from other keys. Nine times out of ten we're simply spicing up the diatonic, but chances are all nine of these times we add a window of opportunity to advance the challenge of our art.

Six

Root motion of chords. Theorists already in the know of the diatonic chord motions can simply move beyond into the next level by creating progressions which borrow chords from other keys. Nine times out of ten we're simply spicing up the diatonic, but chances are all nine of these times we add a window of opportunity to advance the challenge of our art.

This becomes a key component of morphing styles. As the harmony thickens up we just get more options to explore. The 'three chords and the truth' basis of each style simply evolves through addition of chords. So if your diatonic thing is cool, your chord speller is working fine, read on here to review or try the click to the right to explore and experiment with the theory.

Cadential motions. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical desig

nation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Common 'other' cadential options. Instead of Five / One we ...tritone sub / b7 / One to Six major dock of the bay ... gospel by using Four ... end of a blues tune.

This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical desig

nation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Overview. Theorists already in the know of the diatonic chord motions can simply move beyond into the next level by creating progressions which borrow chords from other keys. Nine times out of ten we're simply spicing up the diatonic, but chances are all nine of these times we add a window of opportunity to advance the challenge of our art.

1
#1
b2
2
b3
3
4
#4
b5
5
#5
b6
6
b7
7
transition into the 2nd octave / the melodic and harmonic color tones
8
b9
9
#9
-10
10
11
#11
12
b13
13
b14
14
15
#15

A solid diatonic basis. Turns out that from any of our key centers, we get the core harmonic motion of One / Four / Five in both the major and minor tonalities.

1. Vamp.

half step
music notation

1 / 5 / 1. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

 

1 / 4 / 5 / 1. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

1 / 6 / 4 / 5 / 1. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

1 / 2 / 5 / 1. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

2 / 5 / 1.Theorists already in the know of the diatonic chord motions can simply move beyond into the next level by creating progressions which borrow chords from other keys. Nine times out of ten we're simply spicing up the diatonic, but chances are all nine of these times we add a window of opportunity to advance the challenge of our art.

"As Time Goes By"

1 / 6 / 2 / 5 / 1. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
flipping it around

3 / 6 / 2 / 5 / 1. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

1 / 5 / 1. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Motion to Four. Chord motion to Four is the most common of our destinations. Filtering the whole style tamale through progressions, in the flow of a song it'll somehow get to the Four chord. The following examples simply run a lot of this down.

half step
music notation

Blues. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Rhythm changes. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

 

1 / 5 / 1. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

1 / 5 / 1. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

1 / 5 / 1. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

1 / 5 / 1. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

1 / 5 / 1. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Advanced chord progressions. Theorists already in the know of the diatonic chord motions can simply move beyond into the next level by creating progressions which borrow chords from other keys. Nine times out of ten we're simply spicing up the diatonic, but chances are all nine of these times we add a window of opportunity to advance the challenge of our art.

Folk. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Bluegrass. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Metal. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Blues. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Gospel. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Rock. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Country. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Pop. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Jazz / chord cycles. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Harmonic motion in diatonic fourths. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Rock. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation
scale degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
scale pitches
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C
arpeggio degrees
1
3
5
7
9
11
13
15 (1)
arpeggio pitches
C
E
G
B
D
F
A
C
chord degrees
I
ii
iii
IV
V
vi
vii
VIII
diatonic triads
C E G
D F A
E G B
F A C
G B D
A C E
B D F
C E G
numerical scale degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
two octave C major scale
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C
arpeggio degrees
1
.
3
.
5
.
7
.
9
.
11
.
.
.
15
C major arpeggio
C
.
E
.
G
.
B
.
D
.
F
.
.
.
C

 

Adding the 7th. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation
scale degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
scale pitches
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C
arpeggio degrees
1
3
5
7
9
11
13
15 (1)
arpeggio pitches
C
E
G
B
D
F
A
C
chord degrees
I
ii
iii
IV
V
vi
vii
VIII
diatonic triads
C E G
D F A
E G B
F A C
G B D
A C E
B D F
C E G

Adding the 9th. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Adding the 11th. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Adding the 13th. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Adding the 7th. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Adding the 7th. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Adding the 7th. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Theory names: This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Turnarounds. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Theory names: This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Theory names: This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Theory names: This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Theory names: This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Theory names: This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

halfdim

Seven / -7b5 / the half diminished chord. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

 

In a nutshell. The diminished color just seems to be able to find its way into every knook of the American chromatic. Each of the styles has probably at least one spot where we might hear something of this doubly even or tripley minor stack'o pitches.

Into the wayback to the mid 30's to Charlie Christian and his "Air Mail Special", the bridge of which is but also chromatic ...?

can be something diffcan be lots of unique things to lots of different players. .

the American chromatic
the wayback machine

In today's music, while it's near impossible to hear any difference in pitches or tunings, the duality of our pitches enables the blue melodic magic weave over stable, closely tuned chord pitches. Just how central this relationship might be is more about one's own art directions but surely lives at the stylistic heart of Americana guitar. The bend-able string / pitch ability over precisely tuned chords is the basis of our guitar arts.

blue notes
a wide array of chords

Chord progressions ~ the explosive potenetial of the diminished color. As tempos accelerated in bop andits post incarnates, the diminished colors becomes the great accelerator of American jazz. Thanks to its symmetrically sequenced DNA of minor 3rds, two solid theories emerge.

First, simply that the diminished color can slip between two of any diatonic motions at the drop of a hat. Surely some are more awkward, but jazz cats often dig on the challenge of finding the balance and proper presentation based on style, tempo and feel.

The second theory helps creates the various double Two / Five motions. Based mostly on the b9 in V7b9, the fully diminshed 7th chord in this dominant's V7 trnsion encourages chord motion moved around by the minor third interval. We can find this motion in three very lovely jazz classics.

"The key to the future of the world is finding the optimistic stories and letting them be known."

Pete Seeger

Grout, Donald Jay. A History of Western Music, p. 10. W.W.Norton and Company Inc. New York, 1960.

 

Aebersold, James and Slone, Ken. Charlie Parker Omnibook. New York: Atlantic Music Corp., 1978. I know this is a troubling stand to take but I felt I had to and as jazz player, I based it on Charlie Parker's compositions in the Omnibook. Find a copy, count the number of tunes, then compare the number of major key to minor key songs. Any real book of popular American song, by a mix of composers, will follow along similar lines in this regard.regard.