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Chord Progressions
Author: JCizzle, Views: 5601, Replies: 25

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#1
(I wasn't sure where to put this)

I've always been fascinated by uncommon chord progressions used in popular music such as with ELO and Queen, to this day still mystified as to who anybody could come up with them. I can do all the music theory studying I want here in college but I still have the hardest time writing even just nonstandard progressions combined with a decent, poppy, catchy lead.

Just look at this old footage of Jeff Lynne (the absolute master of nonstandard pop progressions) talking about writing the progression of a song I'm always finding myself strumming, just because of the chords:



's... 's genius.

Because of this, I'm dedicating this thread to chord progressions (notably, "interesting" ones) and tricks regarding writing them. Please feel free to suggest and any items to add to the list.

I might rearrange the OP from time to time to make it look better and more efficient; for now this is what it's gonna look like. Any suggestion would be great.



LIST OF "SPICES" FOR YOUR CHORD PROGRESSIONS

Nonstandard Chords Within a Scale
If the tonic is major:
  • iii7/5-(Has an interesting sound to it)
  • III7#9 (Has an RnB-ballad feel; I-III7#9 is a nice alternative to I-III or I-iii)
  • iii7#5 (Has a "spacey" sound to it)
  • III7#5 (Has an RnB-ballad feel; I-III7#5 can be easily resolved to a IV or a vi)
  • III° (Sounds somewhat classical and begs to be resolved to a IV)
  • III+ (Sounds very bluesy/RnB if a progression starts with I - III+. Can be easily resolved to a IV)
  • iv (Flows nicely when preceded by a regular IV)
  • v (Works in very few cases, but works great when well-executed; an easy example is the standard tonic-dominant progression, i.e. I-v)
  • V6 (A nice alternative that flavors the fifth degree)
  • V+ (Works very well at the very end a five-chord progression, where the fourth and fifth are contained within the same measure. Can easily be resolved to the tonic)

Nonstandard Chord Progressions from Popular Songs
  • E -- F#m -- G#m -- A
    E -- F#m -- G#m -- Bm
    So Fine - ELO (pre-chorus)
  • C -- Am -- G# -- Fm Livin' Thing - ELO (verse)
  • C -- Am -- F -- Dm - G+ Livin' Thing - ELO (chorus)
  • F -- Am -- Dm -- Bb - C
    F -- Am -- Dm -- Bb - D/F#
    Gm ---- Bbm -- Bb°
    F -- Eb -- Db -- Bb -- ( C )
    We are the Champions - Queen (chorus)


Other Ideas
  • Using relative chords that may not even exist in the key you're in; for example, a fourth degree in a major key can be minor, but the "relative" chord of that already nonstandard chord is three semitones higher and major -- said relative chord is not part of the major scale, but it theoretically exists with respect to the iv. Like in Livin' Thing; F is the fourth degree. Since, as previously mentioned, in a major harmonic context, the fourth degree can either me major or minor and it sounds nice. If you try to find that fourth's relative chord, it'll be G# major, which is not part of C major (it would be a minor 6th degree).
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#2
well I understood about half that post :haha:
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#3
I'm in much the same boat wwf. :haha:

I should learn some theory, but what with all the other shit I need to learn for my education... Ehh, I'm lazy.
JoelCarli Wrote:Well curiosity killed the Maps.

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#4
G-C-D is an unusual progression isn't it?
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#5
I always liked the organ's chord progression at the end of A Saucerful of Secrets by Pink Floyd. No idea what it is or if it's unusual, but I like it. So there's that.
JoelCarli Wrote:Well curiosity killed the Maps.

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#6
(03-30-2014, 06:37 PM)Grungie Wrote: G-C-D is an unusual progression isn't it?
Not really. G-C-D would be I-IV-V. Or, in layman's term: the "root chord", the 4th "belonging" chord, and the 5th "belonging" chord. Since it's in a major key, the I, IV, V are all capital to denote that they are major. (Note: The word "belonging" here implies that the chord is built out of the 7 notes of the key signature, and therefore is going to fit more than chords with notes that aren't part of the key signature.) Anyway, a I-IV-V progression is fairly common, actually.
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#7
(03-30-2014, 06:13 PM)wwf Wrote: well I understood about half that post :haha:
(03-30-2014, 06:27 PM)Mr Maps Wrote: I'm in much the same boat wwf. :haha:

I should learn some theory, but what with all the other shit I need to learn for my education... Ehh, I'm lazy.
Jesus, guys...

you're making us look bad in front of the newcomers

(03-30-2014, 07:02 PM)crazysam23 Wrote: Not really. G-C-D would be I-IV-V. Or, in layman's term: the "root chord", the 4th "belonging" chord, and the 5th "belonging" chord. Since it's in a major key, the I, IV, V are all capital to denote that they are major. (Note: The word "belonging" here implies that the chord is built out of the 7 notes of the key signature, and therefore is going to fit more than chords with notes that aren't part of the key signature.) Anyway, a I-IV-V progression is fairly common, actually.
I think he was joking Tongue


(03-30-2014, 06:59 PM)Mr Maps Wrote: I always liked the organ's chord progression at the end of A Saucerful of Secrets by Pink Floyd. No idea what it is or if it's unusual, but I like it. So there's that.
I'll check it out.

EDIT: It's pretty elaborate. There are a series of various progressions in there.
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#8
(03-30-2014, 07:05 PM)JoelCarli Wrote:
(03-30-2014, 07:02 PM)crazysam23 Wrote: Not really. G-C-D would be I-IV-V. Or, in layman's term: the "root chord", the 4th "belonging" chord, and the 5th "belonging" chord. Since it's in a major key, the I, IV, V are all capital to denote that they are major. (Note: The word "belonging" here implies that the chord is built out of the 7 notes of the key signature, and therefore is going to fit more than chords with notes that aren't part of the key signature.) Anyway, a I-IV-V progression is fairly common, actually.
I think he was joking Tongue
Yeah, but someone has to show the newcomers that a few of us actually know theory. Jeese.
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#9
(03-30-2014, 07:23 PM)crazysam23 Wrote: Yeah, but someone has to show the newcomers that a few of us actually know theory. Jeese.
u.u
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#10
lel
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