#1
Alright, this post is inspired by this thread: https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1330119

So, can anyone explain or point me to a lesson/article, helping to explain how/why certain progressions work?
I really want to fully understand the theory on why certain chord progressions give a certain sound/feel as opposed to others, so I can use that knowledge for myself in composing music.
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#2
It's all about looking at how the notes interact with each other.

For example, let's take a simple ii V I turnaround. You can say it's an accepted "strong" turnaround, but what if you want to examine it further, or the progression you're working with isn't an accepted "strong" progression?

Let's pick the key of F (I feel like I use C too often). We have these chords: Gm C F which contain these notes:

D  G  C
Bb E  A
G  C  F
Looking at the first two chords, primarily they share a G, which sort of acts as a pivot tone. Bb moves up a step to C and D moves up a step to E.

Looking at the last two chords, they also share a pivot tone, C. E moves up a half-step to F (which is a stronger motion, in this case it's what makes the dominant what it is) and G moves up a whole step to A.

The more you do stuff like this the more you'll recognize harmonic motion without having to examine it as thoroughly. For example, C to F "works" because it's a dominant, in other words the third of C is the seventh of F, which resolves the chord very strongly.

Feel free to ask for help in doing this. I'll be glad to help you out.

One more thing: Another way to examine progressions is to compare everything to the diatonic chords. You don't always have to look as in-depth as each individual note. For example, look at the following progression:

C F G Ab Bb (C)

You see with the first three chords that it develops a strong tonality of C, using the I IV V progression, but then you have bVI-bVII-(I). Looking at the parallel minor, you notice that these chords are borrowed from C minor, and they sort of lead up to C with that Picardy third kind of thing.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
Last edited by food1010 at Jun 29, 2010,
#3
Quote by food1010
It's all about looking at how the notes interact with each other.

For example, let's take a simple ii V I turnaround. You can say it's an accepted "strong" turnaround, but what if you want to examine it further, or the progression you're working with isn't an accepted "strong" progression?

Let's pick the key of F (I feel like I use C too often). We have these chords: Gm C F which contain these notes:

D  G  C
Bb E A
G C F
Looking at the first two chords, primarily they share a G, which sort of acts as a pivot tone. Bb moves up a step to C and D moves up a step to E.

Looking at the last two chords, they also share a pivot tone, C. E moves up a half-step to F (which is a stronger motion, in this case it's what makes the dominant what it is) and G moves up a whole step to A.

The more you do stuff like this the more you'll recognize harmonic motion without having to examine it as thoroughly. For example, C to F "works" because it's a dominant, in other words the third of C is the seventh of F, which resolves the chord very strongly.

Feel free to ask for help in doing this. I'll be glad to help you out.

One more thing: Another way to examine progressions is to compare everything to the diatonic chords. You don't always have to look as in-depth as each individual note. For example, look at the following progression:

C F G Ab Bb (C)

You see with the first three chords that it develops a strong tonality of C, using the I IV V progression, but then you have bVI-bVII-(I). Looking at the parallel minor, you notice that these chords are borrowed from C minor, and they sort of lead up to C with that Picardy third kind of thing.


Alright, I get the first bit now. So, the different sound/feel from progressions is caused by the notes of the chords being at certain intervals? Are there any articles you know of that go deeper into this without confusing me too much?
Although, why is E to F stronger?

And the bolded bit: The reason for using the chords from the minor scale has me slightly confused. I've previously stuck to the Co5 for chords.

Thanks for the help so far!
Sunn O))):
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You could always just sleep beside your refrigerator.

Guitar:
- Ibanez S670FM w/ JB
- Fender 'Lite Ash' Stratocaster
- Fender '72 Deluxe Telecaster
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Amp:
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'72 Tele Appreciation Group
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#4
Quote by Simsimius
Alright, I get the first bit now. So, the different sound/feel from progressions is caused by the notes of the chords being at certain intervals?
Pretty much. It all depends on the intervals between notes/chords as well as their relation to the tonic.

Quote by Simsimius
Are there any articles you know of that go deeper into this without confusing me too much?
Nope, there may be some, but I haven't come across them.

Quote by Simsimius
Although, why is E to F stronger?
Play these two progressions:

Fm Eb Db Cm (i bVII bVI v)
Fm Eb Db C (i bVII bVI V)

Which resolves more strongly back to Fm?

Quote by Simsimius
And the bolded bit: The reason for using the chords from the minor scale has me slightly confused. I've previously stuck to the Co5 for chords.
Ah, borrowing chords/notes from the parallel minor.

If you look at a key and it's parallel major/minor (we'll say C and Cm for this example), you notice that they have the same root note, resolution point. This means that if you do it right, you should be able to use notes from both to resolve back to C.

Blues does this a lot. Most blues is in a major key, but it borrows a lot of minor notes. It's common to have a progression (in C) that uses C Eb F G and Bb in some way or another. That's how this works.

I can explain further if you're still confused.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
#5
Quote by food1010

Play these two progressions:

Fm Eb Db Cm (i bVII bVI v)
Fm Eb Db C (i bVII bVI V)

Which resolves more strongly back to Fm?


Ah, I see. Is that because F is IV to C [or C the V to F]?



Ah, borrowing chords/notes from the parallel minor.

If you look at a key and it's parallel major/minor (we'll say C and Cm for this example), you notice that they have the same root note, resolution point. This means that if you do it right, you should be able to use notes from both to resolve back to C.

Blues does this a lot. Most blues is in a major key, but it borrows a lot of minor notes. It's common to have a progression (in C) that uses C Eb F G and Bb in some way or another. That's how this works.

I can explain further if you're still confused.


Yeah, I still don't get it. The term 'parallel minor' doesn't mean anything to me. Sorry.
Sunn O))):
Quote by Doppelgänger
You could always just sleep beside your refrigerator.

Guitar:
- Ibanez S670FM w/ JB
- Fender 'Lite Ash' Stratocaster
- Fender '72 Deluxe Telecaster
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Amp:
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#6
Quote by Simsimius
Yeah, I still don't get it. The term 'parallel minor' doesn't mean anything to me. Sorry.


If we have The key of F, the parallel minor of that is F minor. The parallel minor of G is G minor etc.
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#7
Quote by Simsimius
Ah, I see. Is that because F is IV to C [or C the V to F]?
The latter, yes. The idea behind an authentic cadence (V I or V i) is that the third of the dominant resolves a half-step to the root (of the tonic).

Quote by Simsimius
Yeah, I still don't get it. The term 'parallel minor' doesn't mean anything to me. Sorry.
FacetOfChaos explained it pretty well.

Say we have the key of G major. Its parallel minor key is G minor. Likewise, the parallel major key of G minor is G major.

The term "parallel," in this case, means they share a root note, but have a different quality (major vs. minor).
Compare this to the term "relative" which, in the same context, means they share the same key signature/notes, but have a different root note, meaning they have a different quality. e.g. C major vs. A minor. They both share the same key signature, but are different keys.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
Last edited by food1010 at Jun 29, 2010,
#8
As well as understanding the terms and ideas of theory, it always helps me to listen to examples of specific chord changes in music. I've been working through a book with the chords to every Beatles song, and as I play just the chords I kind of roman-numeral-analyze the basic chord structure/form. Eventually I started to notice that lots of songs have a V7 to a I, or a I7 to a IV etc. I'm starting to recognize what these changes sound like, and what feeling they give to the music. Now that I know what certain changes sound like, I start to look at the notes in those chords and why they work. That's the process I use to understand why certain changes sound better than others, or different than others, hope it helps
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#9
Quote by Simsimius
Alright, this post is inspired by this thread: https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1330119

So, can anyone explain or point me to a lesson/article, helping to explain how/why certain progressions work?
I really want to fully understand the theory on why certain chord progressions give a certain sound/feel as opposed to others, so I can use that knowledge for myself in composing music.



Get into a detailed study on diatonic harmony, leading tones and cadences and it will help answer the questions you have here.

Best,

Sean
#10
Quote by food1010
The latter, yes. The idea behind an authentic cadence (V I or V i) is that the third of the dominant resolves a half-step to the root (of the tonic).

FacetOfChaos explained it pretty well.

Say we have the key of G major. Its parallel minor key is G minor. Likewise, the parallel major key of G minor is G major.

The term "parallel," in this case, means they share a root note, but have a different quality (major vs. minor).
Compare this to the term "relative" which, in the same context, means they share the same key signature/notes, but have a different root note, meaning they have a different quality. e.g. C major vs. A minor. They both share the same key signature, but are different keys.


Ah, I get it exactly now. Mentioning relative minor made it all click. It just threw me as I've never heard the word parallel being used before when talking about music, but it all makes perfect sense!

Quote by stasz
As well as understanding the terms and ideas of theory, it always helps me to listen to examples of specific chord changes in music. I've been working through a book with the chords to every Beatles song, and as I play just the chords I kind of roman-numeral-analyze the basic chord structure/form. Eventually I started to notice that lots of songs have a V7 to a I, or a I7 to a IV etc. I'm starting to recognize what these changes sound like, and what feeling they give to the music. Now that I know what certain changes sound like, I start to look at the notes in those chords and why they work. That's the process I use to understand why certain changes sound better than others, or different than others, hope it helps


That seems like a great idea. I'll have to try it.

Quote by Sean0913
Get into a detailed study on diatonic harmony, leading tones and cadences and it will help answer the questions you have here.

Best,

Sean


I'll try!
Sunn O))):
Quote by Doppelgänger
You could always just sleep beside your refrigerator.

Guitar:
- Ibanez S670FM w/ JB
- Fender 'Lite Ash' Stratocaster
- Fender '72 Deluxe Telecaster
- Arbiter LP Jr. Doublecut
Amp:
- Laney VC15

'72 Tele Appreciation Group
RIP DIO
Last edited by Simsimius at Jun 30, 2010,
#11
I have a video lesson on my YouTube Channel that shows how I make sense of chords and their progressions, and tries to demonstrate how easy you can figure out a ton of songs once you can find the key of the song, and once you know what chords "belong" together. Once you can see the big picture, the little details become so much easier to fill in. It's at http://www.youtube.com/user/FretboardToolbox#p/u/5/VObRVnOL5Xo

Hope this helps!

Scott
#13
Thanks guys, I'll take a look!
Sunn O))):
Quote by Doppelgänger
You could always just sleep beside your refrigerator.

Guitar:
- Ibanez S670FM w/ JB
- Fender 'Lite Ash' Stratocaster
- Fender '72 Deluxe Telecaster
- Arbiter LP Jr. Doublecut
Amp:
- Laney VC15

'72 Tele Appreciation Group
RIP DIO