Chord Progression Course

Discover the contradictory world of chord progressions

These guitar lessons don’t have any exercises, instead, I talk about how to best describe chords when they are put after each other and form progressions.

We will use a combination of the harmonized major scale which gives us the Roman Numerals and Blues language.

It is this fusion of the two contradictory worlds that form popular music, especially as we are coming from the perspective of playing guitar.

Follow these 8 steps to learn more about the wonderful and often contradictory world of chord progressions.

Harmonize the major scale – Step 1

This is where it all starts and where all music theory teachers (kind of) agree. We harmonize the major scale and get seven chords.

The ABCs of musical harmony do have many names, but at least we all agree on the fundamental principles.

In a minor key – Step 2

As we try to do the same In a minor key, things get complicated, teachers start to argue, and most students give up on understanding music using theory.

The question is; if we are in minor, do we call the home VI or I? And what about when the song is clearly just a II – V?

The Blues – Step 3

When we look at the Blues, all rules are broken and theory teachers go for lunch. This is where music school fails and also when the music gets good.

If you can grasp the contradictions of the blues and how it blends with the standard language of Roman Numerals, you can understand popular music.

Im, IVm & Vm chords – Step 4

The variations that make the songs are often created by changing a chord that should have been major, into a minor chord (Im, IVm & Vm).

This creates unexpected sadness, a great songwriting trick! Learn how to hear these chords and you will connect the theory with the ear.

IIx, IIIx & VIx chords – Step 5

Just like major can be minor instead, minor can be major instead, after all this is what the blues taught us.

These chords (IIx, IIIx & VIx) are explained using different names by classical and jazz teachers, let’s make sense of it all.

bVIIx & bIIIx – Step 6

Two extreme chords are created by lowering a minor chord a semitone and also making it major, the VII and III chords can be bVIIx & bIIIx.

Nirvana and Radiohead both broke through using these chords. They didn’t know it, but we can learn from their tunes.

Tritone substitution – Step 7

Now it starts to get complicated and smell like jazz. What’s important is to understand what the effect of doing this really is.

Not just for spicing up chord progressions, using tritone substitution we can also create that outside sound when soloing, even if the chord hasn’t changed!

This could be very complicated. Modal interchange is where theory teachers paint themselves into a corner and kick the ball in their own goal.

What may seem like a modal interchange is most of the time better described in a different way. Let’s find out how it really works.