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ALL ABOUT CHORD PROGRESSIONS m

Line-Dependent Patterns, Minor Patterns, Rock and 12-Bar Progressions,


Harmonic Sequences, and Personal Progressions

by Jim Ferguson and Howard Morgen

Thus far, we have covered a wide variety of chord root movements, including circle-based
patterns, secondary dominants, circle-based chromatic patterns, seconds-based diatonic
patterns, secondary diminished 7ths, and thirds-based sequences. Let's conclude by con-
sidering predominant chords, line-dependent patterns, sequences, minor patterns, rock pro-
gressions, personal series, and long progressions.

Predominant Chords:

We have previously examined tonic-sub dominant-tonic patterns. Yet another common root
movement involves a predominant chord, a harmony that precedes V. In the sequence I - X
- V - I, where X represents a predominant, a variety of chords can be plugged in (many have
been discussed throughout this chapter), including ~VI,IIm7, 117,#IVdim7,lImnS, and IVm.
Observe that the last two symbols are frequently referred to as borrowed chords because
they have been "borrowed" from a minor tonality. Here are some predominant patterns (keep
in mind that predominant chords can be combined with concepts mentioned earlier, such as
preceding V7 with 11m7):

Ex. 1

C(9)
1111 mill mIll mIll
A~7(l.5) Dm7 G7(~5) Cmaj9

ii
I I I I

• II" v -e-

I ~VI7 TIm7 V7 Imaj7

'""
.a. -! J -! J :!
-:
J
'1
~
J
.
'1
A
-
J J

..... ~ -:
..., J -!
J ~ .,
C I'm G7 C
.•

=:c
n
.
-'--[11

~
~11I

dn
.m
•. .n

f
~

Ex. 3
c. F#dim7 G11(~9) C(9)

I m Ii I
-
• :; ~
i ~
I hVdim7 V7 I
,...,
.I. 4 -4 4

A
.•..
.LJ
.. ~ J v

Line-Dependent Patterns:

A number of common chord sequences are a result of moving lines instead of root movement.
When these progressions are translated into chord symbols for sheet music, they can be very
confusing to the uninitiated.

Moving lines in patterns of this nature can ascend or descend, and they can often be
employed to add interest to a static chord or progression lasting for several beats or mea-
sures. (In sheet music, moving line sequences can often be identified by a series of chord
symbols that specify a series of specific bass notes that move by second intervals.) (See chap-
ters Interpreting Chord Symbols and It Don't Mean a Thing if It Ain't Got That "Line.")
For instance, one of the most common patterns is VIm - VIm/7 - VIm7 /~7 - II7/3, which
begins on VIm and ends on II7. (The numerical designation to the right of the slash indicates
the bass note to be used.) This sequence can also be used for progressions that go from IIm
to V7, IIIm to VI7, and Im to IV7. Here are two treatments of the preceding moving line pat-
tern plus two other common ones:
LIT Q1L4fUIIA 4lLfUIIA lUIA

60
JIm JI
DIL~Y #D/(Lre~)wy
Jg wy

:b £ ,.
'"
I b

i
b

Pl£/LIT
:b

'"
:b

4lL4fUIIA
I
b

'"
:b

4lLfUIIA
:b

'"
b

1IIIA
i'
~
j J# 6-
I

• II
r.

#<1/60
Wi
1111
DILWV
4
~
r.

1111
,D/CLfem)wy
§L1 11
::c!
n =::!::

Z~

LIT

60
,. ....
-0
-.
r--

,\ -;;--

JD/( ~-;)wy
JIll
my
o

I ·x~
AmfS5) Am6 Am(#S)
.
-~

.---.
- mill
tar alII

&;t •..
)8] ~~
w&
VIm
5-

I r VIm(~5)
r
VIm6 Vlm(~5)

., 5
., 4
5
4
5
I 5

e next few progressions contain patterns that facilitate moving bass lines. Spotting mov-
i
. es in sheet music often requires that you consider two or three chord letter symbols
Roman numerals at a time, not individually. (See chapters Interpreting Chord
Symbols and It Don't Mean a Thing if It Ain't Got That "Line.")Frequently, the first
o symbols signal a specific pattern. For example, C to C7 or Cm to Cm7 implies C mo ..-
tng down to Bl-. Once a line is started, the idea is to keep it moving in the same direction
for as long as possible.

Earlier we discussed tonic-subdominant-tonic patterns and moving lines; here's another


treatment:

Ex. 1

C7/B~ G7/F

IV ar
C F/A
alii
Fm/A~

Ir
C/G

wr I
C/E

I
b"d "d ~"d ; ~
-
-
u
I I71b7th IV/3rd IVrnlb3rd I15th V7/b7th I13rd

! I ! : I : ! §
The following moving-line progressions are found in a number of jazz standards:

1
Ex. 2

D::l
-!..-ffi
~
.--.-
Dm7lC

q
-.

.'.
\TJ
Bmll(~5)
• VII
.~
B~13(hl) Ami
~
€:E:

- -

AS t ; 3 ~ ~
y E!
-
VIm71~7th ~IVm7(~S) IV7 Illm7 >~

! : l{)

: I ~ ! I ! ~

-
Gd} C7(~9)

g
G~maj13 F6/9
~11!

- I I
.,
,.
t$;7 ~
-
?7
~I I bt!
~u
~
#
J V7 bIImaj7 16/9

!! ! I ! §
Ex. 3

Gmaj7 D7/A A'dim7 E7/B Am7(~5)/C A_dim7/C_ Dm7


~w gill ffmr air _VII mVIII

ffr
~

Imaj7 V7/Sth ~IIdim7 VI7ISth IIm7(bS)/3rd ~IIdim7/3rd Vm7

This next example features a two-measure moving bass line pattern for two basic chords
over the course of four bars; it can easily be plugged into a 12-bar blues:
=

I C7

~=""''
-- ..
Akiim?

ar ar
G/B

m
C7
VIII
m~n
Dm7/A Dldim1

er
c:=
.::c:.

<9-
~
llm7/5th #VIdim7 V7/3rd V7 IIm7/Sth #VIdim7

!! : I : ~ I : : I :: :
or Patterns:

popular songs begin and end in major keys; however, many songs contain patterns tha:r
.:Il.lR:>L

pass temporarily into minor key areas. Here are the most commonly used chord qualities"
observe that this harmonization is derived from the harmonic and melodic minor scales, as
well as the Dorian mode (root, 2, ~3, 4, 5, 6, ~7). Keep in mind that Im7, derived from the
Dorian mode, is less often used as the tonic in a minor key. (See "It Don't Mean a Thing if I
Ain't Got That 'Swing.")

Ex. 1

, ~j Cm(maj7)

Im(maj7)
or
Cm6

~
Im6
or
Cm7

(~~I
Im7
Dm7(~S)

hi
IIm7(~S)
E~maF(#S)

~I
IIImaj7(#S)
Fm7

h \,~

IVm7
or
Fm6

(him
IVm6
07

~
V7
Am7(~5)

b~

VIm7(~S)
Bdim7

'l
VIIdim7
~

As with the major keys, the most commonly found circle patterns in a minor key are
IIm7~5 - V7-lm and Vlm7~5 - IIm7~5 - V7 - Im:

Ex. 2

ern
Dm7(~5) 07('5) Cm6/9

I I

IIm7(~S) V7aS) Im6


3

A.::l"U.>5) Dm7(1.5) G13(~9) Cm11


---..-
.. -'-\TI
~ ffiffiv
Hffil fmr ...
7.
"'
~
....
,. 7.L
- d J JI bJ b J
..
"I

-.
,

I
• I I
r ~
~
~ ~

I
=':-6 VIm7(b5) IIm7(b5) V7 1m7
I I
~~ ./ ?" I
u u
-: I
~ ~ I
./ 0 J
!
I
J

Ilock Progressions:

a number of pop-rock songwriters employ sophisticated jazz-influenced


monies, the typical rock sound features simple diatonic harmony voiced predominantly
major and minor triads. Rock progression root movement progresses by step, third, pe
fourth, or perfect fifth, and it rarely is chromatic. Mixing traditional harmony with various
es often creates variety in rock progressions. Two commonly used modes in rock are LnP
Iian and Mixolydian. Harmonized. these are 1m, IIdim, III, IVm, Vm, VI, and VII, and
Illdim, IV, Vm, VIm. and VII, respectively; however, many rock players use chords that
omit the 3rd and eliminate the use of chord qualities. Here are two common fingerings that
lack a 3rd:

mm
Also keep in mind that many rock tunes feature major and minor triads in progressions
whose root movement is based on the blues pentatonic scale (root. ~3, 4. 5, ~7).

Here are various common rock patterns:

Ex. 1

I III
B~

wr
E~/B~

IIIl
B~

~.bi r>

I
r> zz

IV/5th
r> I r>
I
r> r> z> I
AI II

2
z
2
z
2
z
2
z
I I
z
Z
z
I
z
2
z
I ~t
II d
IAIl
~a
11I11
a
II d

L 'XJI

IIA4

II 2
z
I
z
2
z
I
z
I 2
z
Z
z
I
z
I
z
I 2
z
i
z
2
z
2
z
It
11Im
J
m ~a
11Im
J

9 'xJI

A IIA4 AI

~
I
z
I
Z
Z
2
I
Z
I 2
z
2
z
I
Z
I
2
I 2
z
2
z
2
Z
2
2
I 2
2
Z
Z
2
Z
z
z
It
11I1
a
m ~a
II d
11Im
J

9 'XJI

ill II

2
z
2
z
I
z
Z
z
I Z
z
I
z
2
z
2
z
I 2
z
Z
z
I
z
Z
z
It
Ae
v
lIIe
a
I d

fir 'XJI

AI III 4

z2 z
z z2 Z
Z

I I
2
I
Z
Z
Z
Z
z
I I
z
Z
2
Z
Z
~zz
I 2
z
2
2
2
Z
2
z
I ~t
.11 d
m~a
All
~v
..II
~
d

S -
A AI
, ,
2
z
i
z
/ 2
z
I 2
z
2
z
2
z
Z
z
I 2
z
I
z
2
z
2
z
I 2
z
2
2
2 2
~ .
ill
~
=:::!:
J
11I1
a
I
....
d
-
""""'--=:I
-
== _cfilional -Vlm-Ilm-V pro

Am
L-J::
... -=
~
..........
-.
-
I I.'
I.,•

- -""-
-

~z Z' ;1 ,, 7 ,I ,, I' 2' " 2' II ii ;' ;2


I'
.. 1

VI IV

ence is based on the Aeolian mode:

Ex. 2

'~i
~~~,
Em D C D Em
IVlI ar mill mJii\ll
mv
" LrrT I' z rrr , , , I' TZ , ~
rr ~ I'rrrr~ , , I~
CLLI ~~ ,
Im VII VI VII Im

These patterns mix traditional and modal harmony:

Ex. 3

D Gm7 C B~ A7 B~ A7
mill 111I mill I I I I
,~i/ I~ , , , I
/ I
7
I
7
I I
7
I I
7
I' I I
7
I I i7 I
7
I
7
2
7

VI IIm7 V IV ill7 IV ill7

Ex. 4

F G B~ F

a alII I a
,~i/ , , ,
I I
7
I 1/ I
7
I
7
I
II
II IV
--..
-.
E:::l>- A7 Dm [)oj;C

"-- -

-.
- mBl I ~, , :0:: .!-L

~l' ?
?
I
?
I
?
17 ?
?
I
?
I
?
1/ I
?
I
?
I
?
17 I
?
I
?
?
?

Vllm? III? VIm VIm?/b?th IVmaj? y,

F A7 Dm7 G7 B~ F

It I -I ;mm m I
&;~2 /
oJ
I
?
Z
?
I
?
17 Z
?
Z
?
I
?
I I? I
?
I
?
I
?

~
III? VIm? II7 IV

12-Bar Patterns:
As mentioned in the beginning of this chapter. many common chord sequences form the
basis of entire songs. One of the fundamental patterns is the 12-bar blues. which can take
many forms depending on the context (only basic sequences are presented here; infinite vari-
ations are possible). The following basic sequence is common to rock and blues (the chord
qualities are subject to embellishment):

'2/ Z
?
Z
?
I
?
I Z? I
?
I
?
I
?
I~I I
?
I
?
Z
?
I Z? z
?
z
?
z
?

, Z? i
?
I
?
I
?
I Z? I
?
I
?
Z
?
17 I
?
r
?
/ I z? I
?
Z
?
Z
?

IV

, Z? z? I
?
I
?
1 Z? I
?
I
?
I
?
1/ Z
?
Z
?
Z
?
1/ I
?
I
?
I
?
:1
V IV I V

For an in-depth. comprehensive guide to jazz/blues comptng, including straight-four


rhythm approach. swing and bebop ensemble comptng, and walking bass lines. see Jim
Ferguson's All Blues jor Jazz Guitar (MASTER CLASS PUBLICATIONS. Box 551. Santa
Cruz. CA 95061-0551. Dist. by Mel Bay).
A 12-bar blues used in jazz is based on this pattern:

7 / 1/ " 1/
> > > > > >

'2
7 7 7 7
Z I I I I I I I~ Z I Z I

I7 IV7 17

> 7
1/ / 7 7 > > >
1/ > > >

'7 IV7
" I Z Z Z I

I7
I> I I I

bVII
I

VI7
Z I

, Z7 z
7
I
Z
I
z
I~ Z I
7
Z
7
Z
>
I I7 I
7
I
7
I
>
I I> I
>
I
>
Z
z
~I
IIm7 V7 17 VI7 IIm7 V7

Following is a basic minor-key 12-bar progression employed in rock and blues:

'2/ 1m
Z
> z> / 1 Z7 I
7
/ Z
7
I Z7 Z
>
Z
7
I
z
1
7 I
z
Z
7
Z
>

iR IVm
2
7
Z
>

" I Zz / >
Z Z
>
1/
1m
I
7
Z
7
I
>
1/ Z
> I
7
Z
7

, II I
7
z
7
Z
7
I Z7 I
7
Z
7
I
>
I Iz I
7
I
>
Z
>
1/ I
7
I
>
I
>
:11
'17 1m

And here's its jazz equivalent:

42/ 1m7
I
>
I I
I
>
17
IIm7(bS)
>
I

V7
I
7
I
>
1/
Im7
I
>
I
>
I
>
17 I
>
I
>
I
>

'zZ II I
7
Z
7
I Z7 I
7
I
7
I
7
I Z7 I
7
I
7
I
7
1/ I
7
/ I
>

IVm7 Im7

1/ " 17
> > > > > > >
II
7 7 7

'7 I Z I I I I I Z> I I I I
Harmonic Sequences:

harmonic sequence is a series of chords whose root movements follow a recu:rrtng


ic pattern. Although harmonic sequences are often very unlike convenrtonal chard
gresstons, the repetition of the intervallic root patterns and how they res
acceptable to the ear. Any chord combination of chord quality or root moveme
Although harmonic sequences are usually employed to modulate, a sequence can
stitute for a conventional chord pattern.

The following example shows a common chord pattern (Imaj7 - VIm7 - IIm7 - \7
replaced by a sequence whose root movement descends a major second and ascends a
feet fourth. The sequence falls neatly into step with the original pattern in the last
measure 4. In order to make some sequences arrive at a particular destination, however. a.
certain amount of intervallic and rhythmic manipulation may be necessary.

M2nd J P4th t M2nd J, P4th t


M2nd 1 P4th t I
I
I
I etc.
I I
sequence: Cmaj7 Bb7 Ebmaj7 Db7 Gbrnaj? E7 Amaj7 G7
original: Cmaj7 Am7 Dm7 07 Cmaj7 Am7 Dm7 G7
etc.

~i Ie Ie fr r ij Ie ~e Ie r

Personal Progressions:

If you encounter a series of chords whose root movement defies convention in terms of root
movement, and whose chord quality does not establish a harmonic sequence, then you may
have a set of "personal progressions" on your hands. These combinations arise from com-
posers who depend on instinct more than on compositional devices. Here's one example of a
persona). pattern: D - C - Gm - C#7 - D.

Conclusion:

The information in this section on chord progressions has been designed to help you better
understand and organize chord progressions. Even within the inherently limited scope of
this chapter, myriads of patterns are possible. Combined with voicing, inversion, and voice
leading, the possibilities are virtually endless.