#1
I run the risk of sounding really, really stupid here.

First of all, a specific question about a particular chord progression.

Am - C - G - D

I'm fairly sure the above progression is in Am, but a quick Google tells me it's in C. So...would it be in Am or C?

In any case, that's not the actual question.

1) The chord progression seems to resolve on D (at least to my untrained ear), but from what I understand of cadences, the resolving occurs when the progression moves back to the root note. What's actually going on here? Am I just wrong about how it resolves? Or is it just that there doesn't need to be a cadence to resolve a chord progression?

2) I understand that a chord progression (usually) builds tension, then resolves it. Moving to the root note is one way to resolve that tension, but chord progressions don't always do this. The following chord progression is in the key of G#m, but it seems to resolve on F# (once again, I'm highly open to the idea that F# is not where it resolves to):

Abm - E - B - F#

How would such chord progressions work?

3) From what I can see, there are potentially many different ways to combine a chord harmonized from a scale into a chord progression. Obviously, just noodling around and playing random chords won't make a good-sounding progression. Are there rules (I use the term loosely) to making a chord progression? By extension, do certain scale degrees create tension while others resolve it?

This was actually so much harder to phrase than I thought. :/
Last edited by triface at Oct 11, 2011,
#2
To my ears. The first chord progression resolves on E minor. Play your chord progression and then finish on an E minor. See if you hear it resolve.

In the key of A minor, a minor chord would be built of the D so thats probably the main reason why it doesn't resolve there. Try playing

Am C G Dm

see what you think.


your 2nd progression sounds like it does resolve on F# to me.

Remember that there are different types of cadences
Last edited by mrbabo91 at Oct 11, 2011,
#3
That first progression could be both in A minor and C major, since they're relative scales (I think... It means they have the same notes but in different order, basically). But since it starts with Am and should resolve to that, it's implied that it's in Am
Professional lurker since 2009.
#4
Quote by technoguyx
That first progression could be both in A minor and C major, since they're relative scales (I think... It means they have the same notes but in different order, basically). But since it starts with Am and should resolve to that, it's implied that it's in Am

It doesnt work like that, its either in a minor or c major, not both.
#5
Quote by technoguyx
That first progression could be both in A minor and C major, since they're relative scales (I think... It means they have the same notes but in different order, basically). But since it starts with Am and should resolve to that, it's implied that it's in Am


No.

While it's true that Am and C share the same notes, and therefore the same chords, neither of those scales has an F# in it. So really you're in either G or Em.

And it's also true that many songs start or end on the tonic chord, that's not always the case. You can't infer from the first or last chord alone what the tonic is.

That being said, there are lots of songs that use the G major notes, but force a resolution to D. That's using the D mixolydian mode. Now I don't want to get sucked into a flame war here, but listen to "Sweet Child of Mine." The verse chords are D Cadd9 G D, which a clear resolution on the D. You can force the resolution to other notes, and one of the easiest ways to do that is to force it to the fifth.

Or you may not be dealing with strict diatonicism. But that being said, play Am G C D, and then play Am G C D G. To me, the latter feels MUCH more resolved. Some of that is caused by the V-I transition. For fun, play it with a D7 rather than a D, and notice how that strengthens the sense of resolving to G.

With G#m E B F#, again, you in a chord progression that could easily be in either G#m or in B major. So you're in "relative minors" territory again. But again we see that F# is the V of B ... and we know that it's relatively easy for make a chord progression sound like it wants to resolve to the V - same trick as above. I don't feel like that progression resolves naturally to the F# on the guitar (the B feels much more resolved) but again, it's easy to trick yourself here based on how you play the chords - if you end on that last chord and hold it, often it's going to feel more resolved.
Last edited by HotspurJr at Oct 11, 2011,
#7
If you want to add tension a resolution to a ||: Am | C | G | D :|| progression do this...

||: Am G7 | C D7 | G A7 | D E7 :||

You don't have to play them all, but you can. This way you have a V-Im cadence from end to beginning to.
Last edited by MikeDodge at Oct 11, 2011,
#8
Now that I've played it, I do think it sounds nice when resolved on Em.
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#9
Man learn the circle of fifths http://www.guitarlearningtips.org/music-theory/learn-and-master-the-circle-of-fifths-or-circle-of-fourths/

Read that article.

On topic: That is a C major scale

Because

It has C and G

Probably D is a minor and you have Am wich is the relative minor of C

Trey mixing the circle of fifths with the guitar modes.

By learning the guitar modes you will know what is the type of every note in a particular scale

If you don't know what i mean read this http://www.guitarlearningtips.org/music-theory/guitar-modes-the-guitar-modes-of-the-major-scale/


To make you understand better:

You have a C major

C major scale: C Dm Em F G Am B dim (this is all based on the modes and the scale types)

By knowing this you can mix those chords in any way you want and it will sound good.

By learning the circle of fifths ( which is done easily if you follow the steps in the article) you will know all the scales and all the note they are made out off

You apply the type of each mode and voila you can figure out all the keys you want to

Blueprint for the modes :

Major minor minor Major Major minor diminished
I II III IV V VI VII

the roman numbers represent the degrees (the position of each note in a major scale)


Hope that helped, cheers
#10
First one resolves on A. If the last chord is D major you're basically harmonically outlining A Dorian. If not, then it is in A natural minor most likely.

The second one is your classic "Offspring" progression (also see Peace of Mind by Boston, or a zillion Iron Maiden songs)

i ---VI --- III --- VII
#11
It's strange how people here resolution on different chords. To me its definately Em and it would make perfect theoretical sense as well.

The seconds one is your typical 'maiden' progression
#12
The second progressions resolves to Abm. Remember, progressions are cyclical, so the first chord might be treated as the last. If you play the progression and don't play the first chord again, but end on the F#, it'll sound unfinished until you do.
Oh, and "Maiden progression" my ass. To me, it'll always be the "4 chords of pop". It comes up in most types of contemporary music, but pop uses it the most, by far.
Last edited by Cavalcade at Oct 11, 2011,
#13
Quote by apajr

That is a C major scale

Because

It has C and G


So does G major...

Quote by apajr

Probably D is a minor and you have Am wich is the relative minor


No, D is also in the G major so it's all diatonic

Am C G D
ii IV I V
#14
Quote by Cavalcade
Oh, and "Maiden progression" my ass. To me, it'll always be the "4 chords of pop". It comes up in most types of contemporary music, but pop uses it the most, by far.


Yh but tell me that "maiden progression" doesn't sound coller than "4 chords of pop"
#15
First progression could technically be considered in G major or Em, but it's more likely just in Am with the D chord acting as a sub for D minor, which could either be considered to be borrowed from G major or acting as a dominant substitute, as you can make it a D7 quite easily. I tend to err on the side of dominant subs in most cases. In any case, the key is definitely Am. You can make the G chord a G7 without creating any weird issues, which wouldn't be the case if the key were G or Em.


Now about the resolving issue... I don't see how you can't hear both of those progressions resolving back to their original chord. Perhaps you're feeling like they resolve to the last chord because that chord doesn't contain a particularly high amount of tension in it, which means it isn't necessarily begging to go back to the root. However, the chord still does want to resolve to the original chord - you wouldn't stop on D in the first progression or F# in the second progression to end the song. Sure, the chords cycle around in an indefinite loop that doesn't necessarily want to end, but the strongest point of resolution is still the original chord. Unfortunately, there's really no way to demonstrate what I'm talking about other than to tell you where the progression really resolves and hope you hear it eventually. All I can say is that if you play both progressions a bunch of times, the chord you finally stop the progression on shouldn't be the 4th chord in that sequence. If you stopped on it and liked the sound, it's probably just because you've grown accustomed to some artists doing "false endings" in their songs where they stop on the final chord before the root instead of resolving the progression to end the song. Still, your brain should desire on some level to hit that final Am or Abm chord before you put the guitar down.
#18
Second progression:

Quote by beadhangingOne

i ---VI --- III --- VII


This is right, however it is in G#m, not Abm. They are both enharmonic but Ab is not "theoretically correct."
#19
Quote by Cavalcade
Calling it the "Maiden progression" = implying Maiden is unoriginal.
(At least, that's how I see it.)


Maiden are never unorginal .


Try playing a G or Em after the D and you will get a very strong resolution.

Try this

Am C G D Em Am C G

See how it finishes back on G
#21
Quote by Cavalcade
Exactly my point. Now stop naming the least original progression ever after them.


OK sorry


THIS is the maiden progression


i - VI - VII -
#22
I apologize as I won't be able to respond to everybody's replies. But I seriously read every reply! Honest!

Quote by Glen'sHeroicAct
Now about the resolving issue... I don't see how you can't hear both of those progressions resolving back to their original chord. Perhaps you're feeling like they resolve to the last chord because that chord doesn't contain a particularly high amount of tension in it, which means it isn't necessarily begging to go back to the root. However, the chord still does want to resolve to the original chord - you wouldn't stop on D in the first progression or F# in the second progression to end the song. Sure, the chords cycle around in an indefinite loop that doesn't necessarily want to end, but the strongest point of resolution is still the original chord. Unfortunately, there's really no way to demonstrate what I'm talking about other than to tell you where the progression really resolves and hope you hear it eventually. All I can say is that if you play both progressions a bunch of times, the chord you finally stop the progression on shouldn't be the 4th chord in that sequence.


So what you're saying is that, while a tension may be partially resolved by a chord that's not the tonic, and while it theoretically would be possible to end the chord progression (leaving some sense of tension, still) it will not be as strong a resolution as going back to the root?

By that logic, can it be said that cadences do not always have to be used?
Last edited by triface at Oct 11, 2011,
#23
Quote by triface
I apologize as I won't be able to respond to everybody's replies. But I seriously read every reply! Honest!


So what you're saying is that, while a tension may be partially resolved by a chord that's not the tonic, and while it theoretically would be possible to end the chord progression (leaving some sense of tension, still) it will not be as strong a resolution as going back to the root?

By that logic, can it be said that cadences do not always have to be used?

Of course they don't have to be used. They're just a tool like every other aspect of music theory. If you don't want to resolve a chord progression to its root, you don't have to. The chords might want to resolve certain way, but then again, the human ear doesn't want to hear the same old resolution time and time again. Why do you think all those I-V-I-IV-I-V-I songs like "she'll be comin' 'round the mountain" and "you get a line and i'll get a pole" sound so corny? They're theoretically perfect, if you're looking for a strong resolution to the root, but they lack variety. The human mind gets bored easily, so we have to find different chord progressions to keep it interested. Someone who's never heard a I-V-I-IV-I-V-I progression would probably fall in love with it for a few months, thinking it's the best thing ever. Since most of us have been exposed to this from a young age, however, we think it's old hat. Similarly, I've gotten bored with a I-III-IV-I progression, because I've heard it a lot. Many people haven't heard that progression used in excess, so they find it quite interesting.
To summarize, you'll always want to follow some basic rules when writing a chord progression, as chords do tend to want to resolve a certain way. You can't just start jumping around to different keys all the time, or the music will lack cohesion. However, feel free to take liberties with how you structure your progressions and what chords you use, as there are plenty of places where the rules can be bent.

That being said, I have 2 things to add:

1. I happen to love the I-V-I-IV-I-V-I progression and all those old classic fold/bluegrass songs.

2. Upon playing that Am-C-G-D progression a few times in a few different ways, it really could either be seen as a i-bIII-bVI-IV progression in Am or a ii-IV-I-V progression in G major, depending on the length of time each chord is given. When I played it through at a fair tempo, only giving each chord one beat, it felt like Am. When I spent more time on each chord, it felt like G major. In either case, this is one of those progressions that tends to want to cycle, and thus is hard to end on any chord, be it Am or G. No matter what, you want to just play that next chord in the progression. The addition of a melody would probably help in this matter, as it would give more structure and direction to the chords. I'm reminded of that song "Pumped Up Kicks" that's on the radio right now, as it uses this progression. Notice that both the verse and chorus use the same progression, and it just loops throughout the whole song - this eliminates the need to halt the cycling progression to introduce a new set of chords, which would be tricky with a progression like this. When the song ends, they don't really even spell out what chord it's ending on, and instead just kind of do a quick fade-out. This perfectly illustrates my point that any attempt at stopping a progression like this is going to be a bit dirty. You basically have to force the song to stop somewhere, and no matter what, it's going to want to keep going. All right, I'm done rambling.
#24
I hear a ii IV I V in G major. The trick is where you hear it resolving to. If it goes V ii, and not V I then you have a cadence which is deceptive, and can be maintained for a long while, but where does it ultimately sound finished.

As for the basics of Chord movement, the IV pulls away from the tonic and the V tends to want to move towards the tonic.

In a diatonic sense, I have demonstrated that chords tend to be archetypes of a I IV or V, on a previous occasion. That could be a starting point, for you to determine tension and resolution.

For example, the viio is essentially a rootless V7, etc.

Now, personally since everything in a diatonic sense tends to be I IV V ultimately, I don't see chords themselves, (usually in a diatonic sense) creating tension much at all, and so the underlying melody played against it, is where tend to see a lot of potential for tension and resolution. I find diatonic harmony to be quite inside and "safe" sounding, usually creating very little, if any tension.

Best,

Sean
Last edited by Sean0913 at Oct 13, 2011,
#25
Quote by triface
I run the risk of sounding really, really stupid here.

First of all, a specific question about a particular chord progression.

Am - C - G - D

I'm fairly sure the above progression is in Am, but a quick Google tells me it's in C. So...would it be in Am or C?

In any case, that's not the actual question.

1) The chord progression seems to resolve on D (at least to my untrained ear), but from what I understand of cadences, the resolving occurs when the progression moves back to the root note. What's actually going on here? Am I just wrong about how it resolves? Or is it just that there doesn't need to be a cadence to resolve a chord progression?

It could resolve on D, a lot of depends on harmonic rhythm.

Also the progression is heavily based on the circle of fifths, as is the second progression, which is why both progressions serve a strong harmonic function.

To me though, when I play it, the D just sounds like it's borrowed the parallel major scale, and it resolves to A minor.

I would like to know actually, would this still be a plagal cadence, even though it's not Dm-Am? Is it possible to have a plagal cadence in this manner if the iv chord isn't diatonic? As is the case here because it's IV - i?
Last edited by mdc at Oct 12, 2011,
#26
Quote by mdc
It could resolve on D, a lot of depends on harmonic movement.

Also the progression is heavily based on the circle of fifths, as is the second progression, which is why both progressions serve a strong harmonic function.

To me though, when I play it, the D just sounds like it's borrowed the parallel major scale, and it resolves to A minor.

I would like to know actually, would this still be a plagal cadence, even though it's not Dm-Am? Is it possible to have a plagal cadence in this manner if the iv chord isn't diatonic? As is the case here because it's IV - i?


I suspect not, cause it seems to me that in a plagal cadence it's the minor 3rd of the iv chord that really wants to pull to the P5th of the i chord, and with an IV in it's place it's a major third respectively, which to my ears don't make any tension.

I think it's a funny thing in that once you play a plagal candence, you establish the i chord as the key, which in turn makes the m3rd of iv sound as a aug5th in relation to the i chord/keycenter.


If this does however qualify as a plagal cadence, then the Dorian mode should be an accepted key center

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Last edited by xxdarrenxx at Oct 12, 2011,
#27
Cheers Darren for getting back on that one. That's a good point about how the voices move.
Quote by xxdarrenxx
If this does however qualify as a plagal cadence, then the Dorian mode should be an accepted key center

Ya know, I actually wanted to say that but was too scared lol.
#28
2 pages of discussion on an incredibly boring set of chords. I was surprised to see people suggesting to pretty much change the whole chord progression to fit it to their own theory, pretty much negates the whole point of the thread and it happens countless times in MT forums.
The simplest answer is often the right one at the end of the day, and with no description of how the chords are played or what the leading melody is, there really was no point in discussing this.
Always waiting for that bit of inspiration.
#29
Quote by W4T3V3R
The simplest answer is often the right one at the end of the day, and with no description of how the chords are played or what the leading melody is, there really was no point in discussing this.

Well I mentioned harmonic rhythm, and Sean mentioned melody, but as usual all the important stuff goes unnoticed. It's a shame. The novelty should've worn off by now....seriously, like...I mean...
#30
Quote by W4T3V3R
2 pages of discussion on an incredibly boring set of chords. I was surprised to see people suggesting to pretty much change the whole chord progression to fit it to their own theory, pretty much negates the whole point of the thread and it happens countless times in MT forums.
The simplest answer is often the right one at the end of the day, and with no description of how the chords are played or what the leading melody is, there really was no point in discussing this.




I noticed this as well

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#32
Quote by z4twenny
Am i the only one who thought the d major was a borrowed chord?


nope

key = Am

i - III - VII - IV
shred is gaudy music
#34
Quote by W4T3V3R
2 pages of discussion on an incredibly boring set of chords. I was surprised to see people suggesting to pretty much change the whole chord progression to fit it to their own theory, pretty much negates the whole point of the thread and it happens countless times in MT forums.
The simplest answer is often the right one at the end of the day, and with no description of how the chords are played or what the leading melody is, there really was no point in discussing this.



Hey W4T3V3R,

I am really sorry that this thread did not meet your standard for entertainment.

Wait, no I am not.

...

The last I looked, this thread didn't revolve around you. For that matter, neither does this board. If you are looking for Highbrow stimulation, may I suggest you start your own board and forum and start threads talking to yourself?

What you might consider to be a boring set of chords, another person at a different stage of music development might consider brand new, and as of yet, unknown. It happens, but then again, not only might that person, but so might users both registered, and unregistered that peruse these topics. For these people they may have had similar questions, and so for these people, there is a benefit.

People can post their attempts to help (which already is more than you have done) and others can support that or correct it, and in the end instead of one person being helped, we could have helped 7-8 others who THOUGHT they knew, and at least tried.

You seem to have missed all that for some reason.

It's really simple. Instead of your wisecracked snobbish remark, you could have just moved on. You come across to me as if you think you're a bit more important than anyone else here. You're not.

Best,

Sean
#35
Quote by GuitarMunky
nope

key = Am

i - III - VII - IV



I honestly don't feel much resolution when you go back to the Am. It certainly doesn't resolve on D like a few people have said.

I feel it's in the key of E minor or G major even though they are not in the progression itself, the entire progression teases on the anticipation for an E minor or G major, especially after the D major is played. I feel more of a pull to G maj than E minor though.

Considering you can make all the above chords out the G major scale and taking into account everything else, i would bet my house its in the key of G major


@Sean, i agree 100%. Whats the harm in discussing this? If anyone involved in the topic learns one thing, then it's worth it.
#36
Quote by mrbabo91
I honestly don't feel much resolution when you go back to the Am. It certainly doesn't resolve on D like a few people have said.


Regardless, that's the tonic of the progression.


Quote by mrbabo91

Considering you can make all the above chords out the G major scale and taking into account everything else, i would bet my house its in the key of G major


There is more to it than that. Don't bet the house.
shred is gaudy music
Last edited by GuitarMunky at Oct 13, 2011,
#37
Seriously, no one here ever heard of the melodic minor scale, or thought about the possibility? which in A minor has BOTH F and F#, thus both Dm and D are possible in A minor?

Basically, without a melody, there's no way to be completely sure... you can consider it a modal progression in A dorian, and therefore there is no cadence... or a plagal cadence in Am... or it can lead to G, or Em...
#38
Quote by GuitarMunky
Regardless, that's the tonic of the progression.


There is more to it than that. Don't bet the house.



Just because it's the first chord in the progression doesn't mean it's the key center, does it ?