#1
I'm learning how to play Limelight (Rush), and I know Alex likes to use suspended chords.

What's a good explanation for a chord progression like: E, F#sus4, G#7sus4?

The intro sounds like a V-IV-I in E, but I'm trying to make sense of the F# and G# being sus4 (and 7). I think the suspended G#7 chord is a very identifiable part of this song (maybe just in this context?).

I notice these types of chord progressions in other songs too, and I was getting stuck here because I was thinking about major keys being I-ii-iii-IV-V-vi-vii. Are these chords borrowed from another key? Are sus/aug/dim/7 chords really just a personal preference in songwriting? Or is there a real cadence explanation?

Thanks
#2
I would personally place the song in the key of B, rather than E. So the intro (I'm assuming you're referring to the part just AFTER the intro, where the bass and drums come in) would be I - VIIadd2 - IV. But that's kind of interesting - I never even considered it as possibly being in E.

I think B makes more sense when you get to the chorus, too, as it modulates to the relative minor - G#m, then ends on F# back to B, so a V - I at the end of the chorus.

Other than that, I'm not entirely sure what you're asking. Suspended/weird chords can certainly be personal preference, and/or they can make sense in a voice-leading context.

When I write stuff on guitar, I often use chords that aren't straight major/minor/power chords. But I'm choosing them almost completely by ear, and I'm not actually thinking about voice-leading or music theory at all.
#3
Hey, thanks. And sorry for the confusion... I asked a lot of questions.

I'm trying to make sense of chord progressions from a theory perspective. There aren't many resources online that will just give you the key of a song - and people tend to say "just use your ears" or "where does the song feel at home?"- so I'm still looking for a good place to start. (INB4 musictheory.net comments). My main question was intentionally open ended, but I'm using Limelight as an example. I'll give it another look with B as the key.

Quote by vikkyvik
Other than that, I'm not entirely sure what you're asking. Suspended/weird chords can certainly be personal preference, and/or they can make sense in a voice-leading context.

When I write stuff on guitar, I often use chords that aren't straight major/minor/power chords. But I'm choosing them almost completely by ear, and I'm not actually thinking about voice-leading or music theory at all.


That basically answers my other question about using variations of maj/min chords. I was hoping to hear some kind of theory explanation, but ultimately there is no substitute for sounding "right." I'm ok with using trial and error when I'm writing something, but I am also trying to come up with a system for remembering keys and understanding chord variations in the context of a song or key. I think of music heavily in terms of intervals, so I was curious to see if someone had an explanation for the transitions too.
#4
Quote by vikkyvik
I would personally place the song in the key of B, rather than E. So the intro (I'm assuming you're referring to the part just AFTER the intro, where the bass and drums come in) would be I - VIIadd2 - IV. But that's kind of interesting - I never even considered it as possibly being in E.

I think B makes more sense when you get to the chorus, too, as it modulates to the relative minor - G#m, then ends on F# back to B, so a V - I at the end of the chorus.


Now that I've had a chance to look it over again, you're right. The F# major chord (sus4? 7?) is in the key of B, not E. That certainly cleared a few things up.

I'm going to need some more practice with this. I think the G#7sus4 was throwing me off too. Thanks.
#5
The part with those chords sounds like G#m to me (VI-VII-i). The "sus4" notes in the chords are just added notes. The guitar plays the open B string in every chord so I would just say it's a pedal point rather than a chord tone. The chord progression is just E-F#-G#m.

And yeah, the song is in B major (intro/verse)/G# minor (chorus/guitar solo/outro), using the b7 accidental a lot.

Listen to the sound. Don't look at chord names, they can be misleading. I wouldn't call it a G#7sus4 chord. I would just call it a G#m chord - that tells a lot more about its function.
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Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Jul 26, 2014,