Chord progression

A chord progression is a sequence of chords, creating a recognizable sound. The chord progression is the element of a song that gives direction to all the melodies.  

For centuries, composers have discovered certain chord progressions that you can hear in many songs today. Have you ever had the following feeling? A song starts, and you can already predict what the melody will be. This is because your ears recognize a certain chord progression that they already heard before.

In music theory, chords are indicated by the following Roman numerals: I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII. These numerals refer to notes on a musical scale. For instance, the Roman numerals accompanying the C major scale are:

C major scale chord progression

C major scale

As you can see, every letter on the scale is connected to a Roman numeral. So, in case of the C scale, the I chord (or tonic chord) indicates the chord that is based on the C note; the II chord indicates the chord that is based on the D note; the III chord is the chord based on the E note; et cetera. 

Moreover, in music theory, we have special names for the chords of the diatonic scale. Here are the most famous ones. We strongly recommend you to remember:

  • Tonic chord (T) – chord, based on the first (I) scale degree.
  • Subdominant chord (S) – chord, based on the fourth (IV) scale degree.
  • Dominant chord (D) – chord, based on the fifth (V) scale degree.

Using the numerals as symbols, we have a way of notating chord progressions. What are the most common chord progressions? Here are some examples:

More about chord progression:

Playing smoother by memorizing chord progression roots (key of C and key of E)

Memorize chord progressions roots and tabs (key of D and key of A)

An introduction to chord progressions on piano 

School of rock — principles to improve your rock ’n’ roll jams

The music dictionary on the 251 chord progression.

By Chordify, latest update: