In A Minor Key – Step 2

Chord Progression Guitar Lesson - S2
In this step we get controversial as I don't agree with what everyone else is saying. I don't change the name of the Roman Numerals if we're in minor!

A Fork In The Road

In the last step, we discussed how we can harmonize the major scale and build chord progressions using Roman Numerals.

All discussed in step 1 is super standard music theory stuff. Whatever teacher or book you pick up will tell you that this is how it works.

There are differences in how we name the chords, some call them tonic, sub-dominant, and dominant, and some say I – IV – V. Some use upper case for all Roman Numerals, and some use lower for the minor chords.

Still, even with these variations in language, it’s easy to understand the basic concept. The problems start when you start analyzing songs that don’t fit this basic format, and unfortunately, that’s almost all popular songs that you’ve heard!

Let’s start examining the wonderful world of chord progressions by looking at when a song is in minor.

Minor as home

The standard system requires that you are in major, where chord I feels like home. Some songs, however, are not like this, some songs feel at home in minor. One More Cup Of Coffee by Bob Dylan, for example, doesn’t even have chord I in it. The home chord is instead chord VI.

Most teachers will now want to call this chord Im, because chord I always has to be home. I disagree with this approach, I believe it’s very confusing as the sound of chord VI hasn’t changed and it’s the sound of the Roman Numeral that matters.

Here at Spytunes, when a song “is in minor” or more accurately, has chord VI as its home, I still call it chord VI.

When trying to understand music theory, this is the first fork in the road. Now when you pick up a music theory book by someone else, you will get contradictory answers.

Hopefully, I can convince you that I’m right as what is about to follow should hammer this theory home.

Chord II as home

Most songs have chord I or VI as their home, but not all! Some songs have chord II as their home. This is especially common in soul, funk, jazz, and very interestingly, dance music.

Chord II, which comes with the mode Dorian, rather than Aeolian (chord VI) is not as sad. There are numerous hits composed with chord II as home. When I discovered this I realized that making whatever chord that is home, chord I was useless.

The most important point here is that the sound of chord II hasn’t changed. It sounds the same as a home chord as it does if it’s in a chord progression where chord I is home, or if chord VI is home.

Remember this: The sound of the Roman Numeral never changes.

It is because of this that I don’t change the Roman Numerals, chord I is always chord I and always sounds like it, and chord VI always sounds like chord VI, we don’t need to use a lower case to tell you it’s minor, we know it is as it always sounds the same. Why make it more complicated?

Chord II always sounds like chord II, it’s the sound that matters.

In the next step, we discuss the Blues, the Blues will break all the rules that the Roman Numerals have laid out.

Popular music is almost always a combination of the Blues and the traditional Roman Numerals.

Chord Progressions | Related Pages

Chord progression | Step-by-step guitar course

Chord Progression Course

In these guitar lessons, I talk about how to best describe chords when they are put after each other and form chord progressions.

The main thing to discover here is how popular music is a combination of the harmonized major scale and the Blues.

One More Cup Of Coffee | Chords + Lyrics

One More Cup Of Coffee Chords

You can learn how to play One More Cup Of Coffee by Bob Dylan using chords, lyrics, TAB, chord analysis, and Spytunes video guitar lessons.

Am | G |
Your breath is sweet, your eyes are like two jewels in the sky…

Five tunes with chord I as home | Chords + Lyrics

Spytunes song book A-Z has songs with the I chord as home.

Five tunes with chord VI as home | Chords + Lyrics

Spytunes song book A-Z has songs with the VI chord as home.

Five tunes with chord II as home | Chords + Lyrics

Spytunes song book A-Z has songs with the II chord as home.



Spytunes chords, scale, and arpeggio software, Chordacus is a refined version of the so-called CAGED system.

Now available as both a chromatic (original version) and “within a key”, developed with the help of a Spytunes student.

About me

Dan Lundholm wrote this guitar lesson on chord progressions.

This guitar lesson on chord progressions was written by Dan Lundholm. Discover more about him and how learning guitar with Spytunes has evolved.

Most importantly, find out why you should learn guitar through playing tunes, not practising scales, and studying theory in isolation.

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