Ok so when seeing people discuss chord progressions they often say use the VI then move to ___ and prior to understanding what the numbers represent it's somewhat confusing.

Do I have it correct now in that the numbers represent the degrees of the scale of the key?

Like the G minor scale consists of G-A-A#-C-D-D#-F

Do the numbers just represent this:

I=G
II=A
III=A#
IV=C
V=D
VI=D#
VII=F

?

And if I have this right, can you guys suggest some of the basic chord progressions which tend to sound nice? My friend just got a keyboard so we've been jamming together since then, and even though I'm not yet writing my own legit songs a basic understanding of chord progressions would probably make our jams smoother/better.

Thanks.
Quote by -TM-
Ok so when seeing people discuss chord progressions they often say use the VI then move to ___ and prior to understanding what the numbers represent it's somewhat confusing.

Do I have it correct now in that the numbers represent the degrees of the scale of the key?

Like the G minor scale consists of G-A-Bb-C-D-Eb-F

Do the numbers just represent this:

I=G
II=A
III=Bb
IV=C
V=D
VI=Eb
VII=F

?

And if I have this right, can you guys suggest some of the basic chord progressions which tend to sound nice? My friend just got a keyboard so we've been jamming together since then, and even though I'm not yet writing my own legit songs a basic understanding of chord progressions would probably make our jams smoother/better.

Thanks.

Fixed the scale. Remember, scales are diatonic so when writing the scale out you're only allowed to have one of each letter.

Yes and no. you have the idea right, but you have to remember lowercase numerals mean Minor chords, and uppercase ones mean Major chords. A diminished chord is a lowercase roman numeral with an "o" next to it (it's supposed to be above, but this is the best I got). So, for G Minor it would be:

G - i
A - iio
Bb - III
C - iv
D - v
Eb - VI
F - VII

The most common ones are:

I - IV - V
i - iv - V
i - VI - V
i - V - iv

At least in my experience. Just try to make some for yourself and you'll figure out what you like.
Quote by DiminishedFifth
Fixed the scale. Remember, scales are diatonic so when writing the scale out you're only allowed to have one of each letter.

Yes and no. you have the idea right, but you have to remember lowercase numerals mean Minor chords, and uppercase ones mean Major chords. A diminished chord is a lowercase roman numeral with an "o" next to it (it's supposed to be above, but this is the best I got). So, for G Minor it would be:

G - i
A - iio
Bb - III
C - iv
D - v
Eb - VI
F - VII

The most common ones are:

I - IV - V
i - iv - V
i - VI - V
i - V - iv

At least in my experience. Just try to make some for yourself and you'll figure out what you like.

ii-V-I also a popular one especially for jazz type stuff. In addition to the diminished chords (° btw, the degree symbol), the augmented chords are denoted by a + sign.
Quote by DiminishedFifth
Fixed the scale. Remember, scales are diatonic so when writing the scale out you're only allowed to have one of each letter.

Yes and no. you have the idea right, but you have to remember lowercase numerals mean Minor chords, and uppercase ones mean Major chords. A diminished chord is a lowercase roman numeral with an "o" next to it (it's supposed to be above, but this is the best I got). So, for G Minor it would be:

G - i
A - iio
Bb - III
C - iv
D - v
Eb - VI
F - VII

The most common ones are:

I - IV - V
i - iv - V
i - VI - V
i - V - iv

At least in my experience. Just try to make some for yourself and you'll figure out what you like.

Thanks.

Which degrees can you augment/make sevenths or ninths out of?
Quote by -TM-
Ok so when seeing people discuss chord progressions they often say use the VI then move to ___ and prior to understanding what the numbers represent it's somewhat confusing.

Do I have it correct now in that the numbers represent the degrees of the scale of the key?
Yep. Well, not necessarily, but I'll explain later.

Quote by -TM-
Like the G minor scale consists of G-A-A#-C-D-D#-F
Nope. It's G A Bb C D Eb F. The way you wrote it the scale consists of 1 2 #2 4 5 #5 b7. In basic heptatonic scales like that it's generally accepted that you don't double up on letters/intervals, and instead try to use one of each. I would explain further but then that gets into some more complex theory (which I'd be willing to get into if you want to understand).

Quote by -TM-
Do the numbers just represent this:

I=G
II=A
III=Bb
IV=C
V=D
VI=Eb
VII=F

?
Like I said before, not exactly. If you're talking about individual notes, sure.

Generally roman numerals are used in reference to chords and arabic numerals are used in reference to individual notes. If I said "play 1 2 3" you would play the root note of the key, the major second, the major third, etc. (in C major or minor, you would play the notes C D E). If I said "play I II III" you would play the major tonic, the major supertonic, and the major mediant. In C major (or minor for that matter) you would play a C major chord, a D major chord and an E major chord.

That brings me to an important point about these roman numerals. Capital (like I or IV) means a major chord and lowercase (like ii or vi) means a minor chord. You can make other combinations by adding symbols like 7, 9, 11, 13, ° (or "dim"), ø (or "m7b5"), + (or "aug"), etc. Diminished chords, although not minor chords, use a lowercase numeral because of the minor third (example: vii° and likewise, augmented chords use an uppercase numeral (example: V+).

So, the diatonic triads in a major key in general (next to their place in C major) are like so (I also extended them to 7ths in parentheses for kicks):
I(maj7) - C(maj7)
ii(7) - Dm(7)
iii(7) - Em(7)
IV(maj7) - F(maj7)
V(7) - G(7)
vi(7) - Am(7)
vii°(7) - B°(7)

Quote by -TM-
And if I have this right, can you guys suggest some of the basic chord progressions which tend to sound nice? My friend just got a keyboard so we've been jamming together since then, and even though I'm not yet writing my own legit songs a basic understanding of chord progressions would probably make our jams smoother/better.
Nope. I mean sure I could, but what good is it gonna do you? You'd be far better off just listening to/studying music and seeing what chord progressions it uses. "Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime."
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
Last edited by food1010 at Jul 10, 2010,
I would suggest learning some songs..... all the way through.

Examine the progressions. Experience the progressions.
shred is gaudy music
Sorry for the multiple posting the site stopped working and my computer kept replying.

^ To clear the extra posts, go to the bottom right hand corner of your post, select the edit button (next to quote), and then choose to physically remove the message.

Quote by -TM-
Thanks.

Which degrees can you augment/make sevenths or ninths out of?
My post may have explained it a little bit, but I'll go into some more detail on this question:

Diatonically to a major or minor key, augmented chords don't exist. Just no two notes form an augmented fifth with each other. There are tritones (b5/#4), but not augmented fifths (#5). If you want to use augmented chords you have to go out of key a bit. One thing augmented chords are good (great, in fact) for is as altered dominants. If you have a regular V or V7 chord, you can sharp the 5 to give it a bit more cool dissonance (V+ or V+7). You can also use this in a tritone substitution (bII7, which also acts as a dominant, as it's just a substitution for V7). For example in the key of C, you can start off with a G7, substitute it for a Db7 and then alter it a bit from there. One tritone sub I like a lot is the 7#5b9. This is basically like an augmented triad with a b7 (making it an augmented seventh chord) and then just a b9 (which happens to be the major second of the key). The #5 of a tritone sub is the major sixth of the key, so that makes it seem a lot less out of key, while still having some really cool dissonance. Just a bit about augmented chords.

As for sevenths or ninths (or other extensions for that matter), I think my post covered this pretty well. If you know how to harmonize a scale, this is pretty easy.

Basically in C major we have C D E F G A B. Taking the tonic (C major) and extending it to the seventh by adding the B, we get a Cmaj7. Extending it to the ninth by adding the D we get Cmaj9, eleventh-F Cmaj11, thirteenth-A Cmaj13. The way you figure this out is you look at the intervals. With the tonic it's really easy because it's just the scale formula (1 2 3 4 5 6 7). You start with 1 3 5 (major chord), add 7 (maj7), add 9 (in other words 2) maj9, etc.

1 3 5 7 (9 11 13) is the "formula" for a maj7/extension chord.
1 3 5 b7 (9 11 13) is the formula for a dominant 7/extension chord (C7/C13, etc.)
1 b3 5 b7 (9 11 13) is the formula for a minor 7/extension chord (Cm7/Cm11).

Plus you can always alter the extension notes. 7#9 (the "hendrix chord") is pretty cool. As I was talking about earlier you can use 7#5b9 as a cool tritone sub. You have a ton more options too. One of my favorite altered extension chords is maj7#11 or maj9#11. I just love the #11/#4, it creates a really cool dissonance with the 5.

Anyway, that's my rant about extension chords.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
Quote by food1010
My post may have explained it a little bit, but I'll go into some more detail on this question:

Diatonically to a major or minor key, augmented chords don't exist. Just no two notes form an augmented fifth with each other. There are tritones (b5/#4), but not augmented fifths (#5). If you want to use augmented chords you have to go out of key a bit. One thing augmented chords are good (great, in fact) for is as altered dominants. If you have a regular V or V7 chord, you can sharp the 5 to give it a bit more cool dissonance (V+ or V+7). You can also use this in a tritone substitution (bII7, which also acts as a dominant, as it's just a substitution for V7). For example in the key of C, you can start off with a G7, substitute it for a Db7 and then alter it a bit from there. One tritone sub I like a lot is the 7#5b9. This is basically like an augmented triad with a b7 (making it an augmented seventh chord) and then just a b9 (which happens to be the major second of the key). The #5 of a tritone sub is the major sixth of the key, so that makes it seem a lot less out of key, while still having some really cool dissonance. Just a bit about augmented chords.

As for sevenths or ninths (or other extensions for that matter), I think my post covered this pretty well. If you know how to harmonize a scale, this is pretty easy.

Basically in C major we have C D E F G A B. Taking the tonic (C major) and extending it to the seventh by adding the B, we get a Cmaj7. Extending it to the ninth by adding the D we get Cmaj9, eleventh-F Cmaj11, thirteenth-A Cmaj13. The way you figure this out is you look at the intervals. With the tonic it's really easy because it's just the scale formula (1 2 3 4 5 6 7). You start with 1 3 5 (major chord), add 7 (maj7), add 9 (in other words 2) maj9, etc.

1 3 5 7 (9 11 13) is the "formula" for a maj7/extension chord.
1 3 5 b7 (9 11 13) is the formula for a dominant 7/extension chord (C7/C13, etc.)
1 b3 5 b7 (9 11 13) is the formula for a minor 7/extension chord (Cm7/Cm11).

Plus you can always alter the extension notes. 7#9 (the "hendrix chord") is pretty cool. As I was talking about earlier you can use 7#5b9 as a cool tritone sub. You have a ton more options too. One of my favorite altered extension chords is maj7#11 or maj9#11. I just love the #11/#4, it creates a really cool dissonance with the 5.

Anyway, that's my rant about extension chords.

Thanks a ton man.

I can't believe I didn't learn all of this stuff earlier.

EDIT: When you say sharp the V to add more dissonance, that's with respect to the major scale right? If I wanted to do it to a minor key would I sharp the VII chord? (VII in a relative minor is the same note as the V in its relative major I think?)
Last edited by -TM- at Jul 10, 2010,
Quote by -TM-
Thanks a ton man.

I can't believe I didn't learn all of this stuff earlier.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
Quote by food1010

Did you catch the edit? Is my reasoning right?
Quote by -TM-
EDIT: When you say sharp the V to add more dissonance, that's with respect to the major scale right? If I wanted to do it to a minor key would I sharp the VII chord? (VII in a relative minor is the same note as the V in its relative major I think?)
Well, I mean more-so just dominants in either a major or minor key. You could use V+ in a minor key too and it would have roughly the same function. bVII+ would be a bit odd I would think. It would probably pull towards the tonic of the relative major, because augmented chords are pretty good dominants.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
Last edited by food1010 at Jul 10, 2010,
Quote by food1010

I(maj7) - C(maj7)
ii(7) - Dm(7)
iii(7) - Em(7)
IV(maj7) - F(maj7)
V(7) - G(7)
vi(7) - Am(7)
vii°(7) - B°(7)

I reaaaaally hate being picky, but that degree symbol should have a slash through it to represent half diminished :3 I'm sure you already know this Food, but TS, A half diminished 7th chord (built off the 7th degree of the major scale) is represented by the degree symbol, but also has a slash through it, I don't know the code for the symbol however. When its just an open degreee symbol, its understood as a full diminished 7th. The difference between these two chords is the interval of their 7ths. A half diminished 7th utilizes a minor 7th, so 1 b3 b5 and b7. A full diminished 7th uses a diminished 7th, so its formula is 1 b3 b5 and bb7 *yes, thats a double flat* Sorry, I just had to clear that up xD

EDIT: A half diminished chord would be represented as Bø, while a full diminished would be B°, just found the symbols xD
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Last edited by Zinnie at Jul 10, 2010,
Just a post to say thanks for a very good thread which has helped my understanding a lot too!

Paul
Food1010's explanation of the diatonic chord system is a good one. The best way to understand how to use them is to pick a few songs you like and to play them with the chords and melody together.

This will bring you to an understanding of how sequences work and also of how chords and melody move together. But by playing the melody with the chords, you will also learn a whole bunch of new chords. By playing Mr Sandman, I learned, in addition to maj7, min7 and dom7 chords: 6, 7#5, aug, 13, add9, 9, and min6, just by playing the melody along with the chords.

That song is also good because it's mostly cycle of fifths, which is also a staple of chord progressions.

Good songs include (off the top of my head):

All the Things you Are
All of Me
Autumn Leaves
Mr Sandman
Sweet Georgia Brown
Moon River
Somewhere Over The Rainbow
Dream a Little Dream
Angel Eyes
Cry Me A River

That's a very very limited list, there are thousands of them.

Also, learn to hear the chord intervals and recognise them. So that if you heard Earth Angel, you'd know it's just a I vi IV V (the basis of just about every 50's song). Any tune you like, start transcribing the chord progression by ear. And then it's not a big step up to something like Ave Maria or All the Things you Are, which have fairly involved chord progressions. But they're still for the most part simple diatonics and cycle of fifths. Open up your ears, and you open floodgates to understand this shit.
Quote by Zinnie
I reaaaaally hate being picky, but that degree symbol should have a slash through it to represent half diminished :3 I'm sure you already know this Food, but TS, A half diminished 7th chord (built off the 7th degree of the major scale) is represented by the degree symbol, but also has a slash through it, I don't know the code for the symbol however. When its just an open degreee symbol, its understood as a full diminished 7th. The difference between these two chords is the interval of their 7ths. A half diminished 7th utilizes a minor 7th, so 1 b3 b5 and b7. A full diminished 7th uses a diminished 7th, so its formula is 1 b3 b5 and bb7 *yes, thats a double flat* Sorry, I just had to clear that up xD

EDIT: A half diminished chord would be represented as Bø, while a full diminished would be B°, just found the symbols xD
Ah yeah, totally missed that. I wrote out all the triads and then put 7 or maj7 next to them, thinking that B°7 meant B half-diminished. You're right, it doesn't, thanks for catching that.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea