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  • Guitar Glossary


Chord progression

The series of chords played in a song. A common chord progression is I, IV, V. Different progressions produce unique sounds, and there are many progressions used in music. Genres also often have characteristic chord progressions, such as the "12 bar" blues progression.

Lessons for: Chord progression

1: Building A Chord Progression

  • Focus: Theory
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In this lesson we'll learn a basic chord progression that we can use to play a melody over. You can hear this chord progression in the previous lessons. But since we were only playing the scale it wasn't an important aspect to focus on. Now it is because we'll be building melodies and harmonies. And those depend greatly upon the underlying chord progression. We'll play a I-V-vi-V chord progression in C major. We'll play each chord for one measure. That means we'll be using these chords. C major (I) G major (V) A minor (vi) G major (V)

2: Here You Come, Baby: Chord Progression

  • Focus: Song
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Here's the chord progression for "Keep on Truckin'": ||: C | A7 | D7/F# G | C || C | A7 | D7 | G || C | C7 | F | F#dim || C | A7 | D7/F# G | C :|| The form for this song is easy, one verse, played nine times! So the intro, the verses, the solo, are all the same set of chords. I will teach you this classic 16 bar chord progression, working in 4 bar increments. There are 4 lines of chords, each 4 bars long. Typical to a form like this, the first and fourth 4 bar phrases are harmonically identical. After we take a look at the chords, we'll take a slow beginner play t...

3: Seen You Walkin': 1st Chord Progression

  • Focus: Song
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This song is made up of two chord progressions. The first one is Bb to D7 to G minor to a quick change Bb to Bb7. Notice the transition from Bb major to G minor. This is a common compositional practice where the chords move from the tonic to the relative minor. To set up this move, the D chord is changed from a minor chord (which is how it would would occur naturally in the key of Bb) into a D7 chord. In doing this, you now have what's called a secondary dominant which creates an interesting chord progression and sets up a smooth transition. Because of all that'...

4: Basic 80s Chord Progression

  • Focus: Style Tutorial
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First let's check out the basic chord progression that we'll be using for our practice tune today. Before we start spicing it up and coming up with a part we'll practice the progression with basic chord voicings and palm muted eighth note downstrokes.





5: Basic Chord Progression

  • Focus: Style Tutorial
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In this lesson I'll show you the basic chord progression we'll be working with for this first example. This is not a riff, but just sequence of chords that may come from the song or just be inspired by it. In the next lesson we'll turn it into a riff, but for now let's go through the basic progression.





6: Riff Versus a Chord Progression 1

  • Focus: Style Tutorial
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Now we're going to looking at another way to turn the same chord progression into a different riff using some new tools like stripping down your full voicings to double stops. Remember that the goal is to make the riff a catchy hook.





7: Riff Versus a Chord Progression 2

  • Focus: Style Tutorial
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So far we looked at a basic chord progression and two different examples of how you can turn that chord progression into a riff. Now let's look at a different chord progression and turn that one into a riff! This time we'll add some more gain, strip down the voicings, and mix in single notes with the chords. I hope this tutorial has given a solid understanding of guitar riffs in a rock context. Riffs are the backbone of most classic rock songs, so it's important to understand and be able to interpret other player's guitar riffs, as well as come up with your own. So try t...

8: Canon In D Chord Progression

  • Focus: Song
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In this lesson we will learn the basic chord progression that forms the basis of the piece. Notice that the highest note in each chord is often the most prominent sounding one. So, we take care to make sure that the highest note of each chord is a good one that represents the single note melody of the piece. Playing the chords all the way through as simple block chords, with the melody note as the highest voice in each chord, will also be the first statement of the final performance of the piece.

9: Chord Progression Performance

  • Focus: Song
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In this lesson we will play through the basic chord progression that forms the basis of the piece as if we were performing the piece.





10: E Major Chord Progression

  • Focus: Technique
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In this lesson I discuss the chord progression that will be used in the backing track. It is in the key of E major. E majnor - I chord - 4 measures B7 - V chord - 4 measures E major - I chord - 4 measures F#7 - V of V chord - 2 measures B7 - V chord - 2 measures Each chord has a function in this progression. The E major functions as the tonic, or "home base", the starting point and the ending goal. The B7 is the V chord, it functions as the dominant chord, which means it provides tension t...

11: E Minor Chord Progression

  • Focus: Technique
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In this lesson I discuss the chord progression that will be used in the backing track. It is in the key of E minor. E minor - i chord - 4 measures B7 - V chord - 4 measures E minor - i chord - 4 measures F#7 - V of V chord - 2 measures B7 - V chord - 2 measures Each chord has a function in this progression. The E minor functions as the tonic, or "home base", the starting point and the ending goal. The B7 is the V chord, it functions as the dominant chord, which means it provides tension that pul...

12: Chord Progression Of The Verse

  • Focus: Song
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In this lesson I show you the 1, 4, 5, 1 progression of the verse. Here we'll play a boom chick strumming pattern, using downstrokes with the pick. I decided not to sing along though, since Bb is not really my key for this song. Next I'll show you the chord progression of the chorus.





13: Chord Progression Of The Chorus

  • Focus: Song
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In this lesson I show you the 4, 1, 2, 5 progression of the chorus. We'll also strum a boom chick pattern here, with the exception of the long notes in the middle of the chorus. These are heavy downstrokes in the 5 chord, and I guess they could be considered punches since most everyone plays them. There are actually six of them played, but the vocals come back in on the fourth one. Again I decided not to sing along, but I did recite the lyrics. Next I'll show you the acoustic fills in between the vocals.

14: Forward Roll In A Chord Progression

  • Focus: Style Tutorial
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Let's put the roll we just learned in a chord progression. This chord progression will use inversions we've learned in the course so you'll have a good refresher on that, too. Try this roll will all the chord progressions you know and use it with all of your chord inversions as well. I think you'll find it keeps you honest when you play them!





15: Strum Pattern 1 in Open Chord Progression

  • Focus: Rhythm Guitar
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Let's put that pattern in a progression using open chords. If you have trouble with the strumming pattern, refer to the previous lesson in order to master the pattern. If you master the pattern, the only difficulty should be making the chord changes quickly and smoothly. Don't forget to try this with any progression using open chords. It's a great fit for any country style, especially the modern country style as found in artists such as Keith Urban or Taylor Swift.

16: Chord Progression Using Pattern 1

  • Focus: Chords
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Here is a simple chord progression using the pattern we've just learned. The progression is: 2 measures of G, 2 measures of C (and in this case, Cadd9), 2 measures of D, and 2 measures of G. Note that when you change chords, you'll change the strings that you pick. The picking pattern will stay the same although you shift strings. This is commonplace when arpeggiating chords. If you find it difficult to play the progression, keep trying. It will help, however, to practice each chord individually and give extra time to the previous lesson to get your chops ready ...

17: Chord Progression Using Pattern 2

  • Focus: Chords
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When we put the arpeggiation pattern that we just learned into a progression, the notes become 8th notes and we play two repetitions of the pattern per measure. Our progression is: 1 measure of G, 1 measure of C (and in this case, Cadd9), 1 measure of D, and 1 measure of G. When you consider all of this, you'll play the pattern for G twice, Cadd9 twice, etc. Remember that you count this pattern "1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and". Also, if any one particular part of the progression gives you any trouble, work each chord individually or view the previous lesson to become more gr...

18: Chord Progression: Accents and Muting 2

  • Focus: Rhythm Guitar
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Let's try the same progression again, but this time, we'll incorporate muting into the technique used. With muting, you'll notice that the progression has a little more of that "Jack Johnson" edge to it. Not only will you want to try it with this progression, but also with other progressions that we've worked with throughout the course. If you have trouble playing the entire progression, make sure to try it with an individual chord at first. I recommend using only the B Minor chord to start with. The barre will help you achieve the muting more easily.

19: Chord Progression: Ghost Strums

  • Focus: Rhythm Guitar
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In this lesson, we'll put our ghost strums to use in a chord progression in G Major. Make sure to check the transcription for exact fingerings. Practice slowly to master the strumming pattern before trying the entire progression.





20: Adding Some Pickin': Chord Progression in the Key of A

  • Focus: Chords
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This is the chord progression in which we'll use what we learned in the last lesson. If you find the progression difficult, so back to our "Chords in the Key of A" lesson and work out the chords individually. Keep your fingers arched high to make the most of the hammer-ons invoved in countrifying the Key of A.





21: Chord Progression I-IV-V

  • Focus: Theory
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Now that we know the First Law of the Blues, known as 12 Bar Blues Form, we need to pick a key to use in order to use the 12 Bar Blues Form. We'll use A major for this tutorial. In the key of A major we have the follow notes: A - 1st scale degree B - 2nd scale degree C# - 3rd scale degree D - 4th scale degree E - 5th scale degree F# - 6th scale degree G# - 7th scale degree We take the 1st, 4th and 5th notes - A, D and E - and build chords upon them. This results...

22: Down In Chinatown: 2nd Chord Progression

  • Focus: Song
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The second progression has us go from Eb to D7 to Cmin7, to a quick change from a Cmin7 over F suspended harmony to an F7. The right hand strum pattern will remain the same as the previous section and we'll focus on strings 2, 3, and 4.





23: The Chapel Bell: Basic Chord Progression

  • Focus: Song
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Although this is an old school rock 'n' roll song, it's not following the typical 12 bar form. It's just going back and forth between the I and the V chord, and it can be a little confusing if you're not very familiar with the song. So the best way to learn it is to get comfortable with the lyrics and the melody and sing that in your head, even if you or someone else is soloing.



24: Power Chord Progression Variation 1

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For the first variation, we'll jump right into rock style! After the quiet, peaceful volume swell melody notes of the intro, the high-hat counts 4 beats and we immediately shift gears in power chords played with energetic palm muted 1/8th notes. Just try to get the chords right first. Then, start to add the nuanced detail of playing the melody note on the top of each chord as you strum it. I demostrate this in detail in the video lesson.

25: Chord Progression: Ghost Strums 2

  • Focus: Rhythm Guitar
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Here's a progression using ghost strums in the style of Jack Johnson. It involves 16th note counting and a few more ghost strums, so it can be a little trickier than our last progression. Check you transcription for exact chords and fingering. Start slowly and build speed gradually.





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