It’s time for a new edition of the “Chord progression of the month” series. Feel the magic – many famous songs are based on the same chord progression (a sequence of chords), but in different keys. And there are several chord progressions which are used a lot in songwriting.
In this edition we’ll talk about the I – IV – vi – V chord progression.
In this chord progression of the month blog you’ll find:
The I – IV – vi – V chord progression
The current edition is dedicated to this famous chord progression in a major key:
Writing the chord progression in roman numerals is the universal way to notate a chord progression, so it can be played in different major keys. The roman numerals indicate a root note of the chord. The roman numeral becomes a capital letter if it indicates a major chord, and a lowercase letter for a minor chord. Read more about this in our article.
So, I, IV and V are major chords, and vi – is a minor chord.
The Function of the chords
In the previous edition we already explained the functions of these four chords in a major key. So, let’s briefly mention it here:
I chord – this is a tonic chord reflecting a key of a song.
IV chord – this is a subdominant chord, leading us from the tonic chord.
V chord – this is a dominant chord, creating an expectation that a tonic chord is coming.
vi chord – this is directly connected with the I chord, and it is sort of the other side of the same coin, characterizing a minor key. It is a relative minor key of the I chord’s major key.
Do not worry if something seems incomprehensible to you. It is very important to play this chord progression on your favorite instrument and train your ears, then many things will become clearer. So what are we waiting for!?
I – IV – vi – V in the key of C major
As usual, let’s find this chord progression in the key of C major.
The “I” chord is created from the 1st note of the C major scale, which is obviously the C note. The “IV” chord is based on the F note.
The “V” chord is based on the G note.
The “vi” chord is created from the 6th note of the C major scale, which is the A note.
Now let’s build up a chord from each of these notes. There are different types of chords, we’ll create triads. Read more about triads here.
Let’s write down this chord progression in the key of C major with chord symbols:
Chord diagrams in C major
Now we’ve found all the chords for this chord progression in the key of C major. Play this chord progression several times, carefully listening to how it sounds.
Just in case, we’ve prepared chord diagrams for guitar, piano and ukulele.
I – IV – vi – V in the key of D major
It’s important to find this chord progression in any key – who knows which key your next favorite song will be in? Why not find it in the key of D major?!
Let’s start with the root notes of the chords:
Now let’s build up a triad from each of these notes. If you know how to find and play triads you can extend them into other types of chords. See the different types of chords in our article.
Now let’s put this chord progression into chord symbols:
Chord diagrams in D major
We’ve found the I – IV – vi – V chord progression in the key of D major. Now play this chord progression several times on your favorite instrument, carefully listening to how it sounds.
As usual, we’ve prepared chord diagrams for guitar, piano and ukulele below.
List of songs
Can’t wait to play a real song, based on that chord progression? That’s what we thought! Here is a list of songs containing the I – IV – vi – V chord progression.
These songs are in different keys, so you can practice playing many different chords on your favorite instrument.
The third edition of “Chord progression of the month” is behind you, and leaves you with another famous chord progression: I – IV – vi – V. Now you know how to play these four chords in different keys.
To sum all the previous editions up, your collection of famous chord progressions consists of:
Quite impressive, isn’t it? It’s time for playing more music and having fun with your instrument!