Chord Progression Theory

This is my personal version of chord progressions as opposed to the normal I-IV-V style with a personally designed diagram and an explanation on how it works.

Ultimate Guitar
This is my alternate form of the typical chord progressions. This isn't necessarily a better way but it is an alternative that I personally found and enjoy using.


- Each of the intervals (roman numerals) is a chord in a key such as "III" in the key of C would be an E minor chord.
- You can start on any of the intervals and create a progression.
- Every line that connects one interval to another means you can go either way meaning you can go from a V chord to a II chord and then back to a V chord.

The red lines are ones that connect chords that share one similar note, the black lines connect chords that share two notes. This can be seen here in the following diagram.


- This diagram shows the connections between chords in the key of C
- The top set of notes in each box is the chord that the rest below it in the box are being compared to
with I being C-E-G (C Major)

I hope you enjoyed this version of how chord progressions work and I hope it can help someone understand it better.

22 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    This doesn't really give any explanation to chord progressions. All it really does is show what chords share notes. It doesn't explain a classical understanding of chord progressions.
    Actually I can't see why there's a black line between III and VI wich in C Major should be E minor and A minor. The only Note they share is E right? Whatever it's a very good model for Harmonics.
    Arpeggios for E minor - E G B D A minor - A C E G They share both E & G
    then, if you count 7th chords, the diagram is still wrong as 1st and 3rd share 3 notes, not 2 (etc etc...)
    but you can easily go from a V to a VI, as in the Four Chords of Pop, yet there's no line between them. So I don't think it's entirely down to how many notes they have in common
    There are many wrong assumptions in this article. First of all, the diagram is wrong (the third chord and the 6th chord do not share two notes, but only one). Second, the fact that two chords have some notes in common DOES NOT mean that you can or can't move between them (hint: you can move from any chord to any other chord: the theory should not explain what you can or can't do, but what is the effect of what you do). Third, the function of the chords, which is relevant to understand when notes in common are important or not, is not mentioned (tonic, subdominant, dominant). Fourth, there is no mention of tension and resolution (which is the name of the game for chord progressions). Finally, for all these reasons above (and more - but hey I'm writing a comment, not an article...) following the lines in the diagram above will produce generally bad chord progressions.
    If you look closely, he's completely skipping chords next to each other. Even the IV to V is neglected.
    I agree. Constructively, I think this diagram is better designed as a substitution tool more than a progression tool. It's a diagram to have a quick glance at when you're thinking 'What can I change this "I" chord to while still keeping the tonic?' But in this circumstance it's probably faster to just think of what chords contain the tonic - including extended chords and accidentals, which aren't even in this diagram - rather than referring to or drawing a diagram from memory.
    You have a problem with the Roman numerals. II, III and VI should be lowercase as ii, iii, and vi since they are minor. Also, VII should be written as viiĀ° (or just vii is commonplace on the internet since the alt code for the diminished symbol is bothersome to find).
    You are the one with problems with the roman numerals, because they have never been used as lowercase to indicate minor chords. Roman numerals only indicate Degrees and functions of the scales. The thing you say about lowercase just applies to chords, but not to Degrees (Sorry for my english.) You can find more information in wikipedia
    Your Wikipedia page proves you wrong, the Roman numerals are clearly define lowercase for minor and uppercase for major. Also any college level music theory class will make it mandatory for you to define them that way. It is also stated that lowercase is minor and uppercase is major in the Tonal Harmony college level textbook written by Stefan Kostka, Dorothy Payne, and Byron Almen. Seventh Edition. So Hermeticoh you are wrong.
    This doesnt explain any relation beetween the chords, and why they share notes, and the relevancy about it. With this system, you could make any combination, despite the sound and the "flowing thing" chords have when they're agrouped correctly. i.e: when you have a dominant chord, it has a diminished interval in it, so you to search a chord with a more stable interval, like a I chord or IV chord, that gives a conclusive effect to your progression, like a pressure valve. It comes 70% to creativity when talkin about chords, its only 30% theory so take it easy man.
    Thanks so much for this. I've been searching for a chord progression lesson for months and i've finally found what i needed
    can you explain in video? I can't understand because my English hasn't been well enough for it ahahah