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Author Topic: Chord progressions  (Read 5872 times)

Tom

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Chord progressions
« on: September 10, 2012, 08:38:46 PM »
Last week our Music Director, an accomplished musician, casually mentioned the chord progression C Am F G7 as being used for many songs. I started playing it over and over and, although I don't read music, many songs "came to me" (by ear). Some examples, with a few variations:

Return to sender - Elvis - C Am F G7
Twenty Six Miles (across the sea) - The Four Preps - C Am F G7
Teenager In Love - Every Brothers - C Am F G7
All I Have To Do Is Dream - Everly Brothers - C Am F G7
Bye Bye Love - Everly Brothers - F C G7

With a few more variations/simplifications:

Walk Right Back - Everly Brothers - G D7 G7 Am
Amazing Grace (written by John Newton) - C C7 F G7
Love Me tender - Elvis - C D7 G7 E7 Am Fm

There are many hundreds (thousands?) of other songs out there using these simple chord progressions.

Guess what I was doing the last few days while waiting for Tech Support to complete various steps  ???
« Last Edit: September 10, 2012, 08:42:24 PM by Tom »
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SeilerBird

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Re: Chord progressions
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2012, 09:42:41 PM »
It is called the I vi IV V7 progression. There are hundreds of thousands of songs using the C Am F G7 progression. There are 12 different keys and that progression can be transposed into all 12 different keys. G Em C D7 is the same progression. There really are only a handful of different progressions that are commonly used.
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Tom

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Re: Chord progressions
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2012, 09:58:29 PM »
Understood Tom, but I don't understand I vi IV V7 terminology, although I've seen it numerous times. I do understand ukulele chords, which I know have different fingering from guitar chords.

FWIW I attended (as an observer and Board member) the first couple of sessions of our recent uke beginners class. 31 people signed up and 25 attended. At the 'meet and greet session', our Music Director, not wanting to get into chord names, showed folks how to play "chord 1", "chord 2", and "chord 3". Then he turned to the few of us present from the band and asked us to play/sing a simple song, with him yelling out the chords. My fingers had no idea where those chords were  :( OTOH he had the room playing a couple of songs before they left, and I was still struggling with 1, 2 and 3  :-[

The following week, at beginners class, he switched to regular uke chord terminology and, when asked to demo, I had no problem  ;D
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SeilerBird

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Re: Chord progressions
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2012, 10:24:07 PM »
Scale terminology:

C   D   E   F   G   A   B   C

Do Re Mi Fa  So La Ti Do

I    II  III  IV  V  VI VII I

Whole step, whole step, half step, whole step, whole step, whole step, half step.

Major chords = capitol letters
Minor chords = lower case letters

V =  Major fifth chord, in the key of C that is G in the key of D that is A, etc
v = minor fifth chord, Cm, Gm, Dm
V7 = Major fifth chord, C7, G7, D7
Vm7 = minor fifth seventh chord Cm7, Gm7, Dm7

It really gets confusing when you get into 7th chords, there are three, Major, minor and Major 7th.

Music theory is a lot of fun to learn, you should get a good book. It will massively improve your playing and your understanding of what you play.
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Tom

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Re: Chord progressions
« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2012, 10:54:08 PM »
It's all gobbledygook to me.

My first week at grammar school I signed up for music, took a couple of (theory) lessons, and was given a violin. I took it home, played a few screech! screech! things before being told to "take it back and don't bring it home again". I took another class instead  ;D

I've always been able to sing a song after the first hearing. A few years ago I joined a barbershop chorus (I just loved that sound and the harmony). Some of the guys "read" music, which frustrated me. I went out and bought a keyboard (actually two), some books and CDs/DVDs. I also took keyboard lessons. But I play an electronic keyboard about as well as I type on a computer keyboard (Chris, who is a very fast touch typist tells me I'm the fastest 1-finger typist she knows).

I "studied" the keyboard by counting up from middle C, and just a week ago I erased the dots on the white keys of my electronic keyboard  :-[

My whole objective was to correlate a note on a score with what came out of my mouth, but I failed (miserably) to achieve the objective.

Very recently i.e. last week, I signed up for a music theory class at a UK university (distance learning). The class is designed to bring you to the Royal College of Music Level 3. They (the RCOM)  have 9 levels, and professional musicians might make level 8. The downside is UK music terminology, e.g.:

A semibrave = a full note
A minim = a half note
A crotchek = a quarter note
A quaver = an eighth note

This makes it fun learning, since I have to "translate" on the fly. An added complexity is that their online learning relies heavily on the use of the Scorch browser plugin, which isn't compatible with any web browser I have installed  :(
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Luca1369

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Re: Chord progressions
« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2012, 04:19:29 AM »
Tom,

     Seilerbird is right about the scale terminology. Let's try it from a different viewpoint and see if you can get a better understanding of the terms he used.  The scales begin on your uke at the open fret on your top string so let's begin there. 

Your strings are are tuned to GCEA looking at them from the top down (which is why chords on a uke are different than chords on a guitar where the strings are EADGBE from the top to the bottom in standard tuning).  So begining on your top string, each fret along that string is a note.  Some notes will be sharp (#) or flat (b), what you call the note can be up to you at this point but I generally call them sharps (an example, I call the note between the G and the A, a G# although you could also call it an Ab).  Remember that a sharp note will be a little bit higher than the note it follows while a flat note will be a little bit lower than the note it precedes.  Let's not get to hung up on what to call flats and sharps, just use one term for now.   The sharp and flat notes are the same thing as the black keys on a piano.

If the top string is G the notes on your ukelele's fretboard for that string will be like this (this range is one octave, the notes begin again at the 12th fret but in a higher octave):

Frets:
0    1     2    3     4    5    6    7    8     9    10    11    12
Notes
G    G#  A    A#  B    C    C#  D    D#  E    F      F#    G

Now when Tom mentions a whole step, as between G and A, there is a G# (you could also call it an Ab) located between the G and the A.  When Tom describes a half step, such as between B and C, there is no sharp or flat note to deal with.  There are only two half steps, B to C and E to F.

Let's try a simple "Blues" progression called a I-IV-V, one of the most used (some may say overused) chord progressions in music. 

Okay, so if this progression is in the key of G, your root note, the I note, is the G which you could play open on your top string.  The next note, the IV, is the fourth note in the scale which begins with your root note of G (since you're playing in the key of G).  This makes the IV note the C which is found at your 5th fret.  Note that we did not count the sharp and flat notes to go from the I to the IV, do not confuse counting frets with counting up your scale. 

In the I-IV-V progression the next note will be the I note again, so you would come back down to the G.  The progression then moves to the V note which is the D at the 7th fret before returning to the G, the I note. 

When I began playing I was 12 and it was easier for me to remember the frets on the guitar than the scale progressions so a I-IV-V to me became a O-5-7 which was my way of counting frets.  I did this for years until I learned music theory.   

I hope this helps.
« Last Edit: September 11, 2012, 04:25:42 AM by Luca1369 »
Steve
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Tom

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Re: Chord progressions
« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2012, 04:56:27 AM »
Thanks Steve and Tom. I understand uke tuning and basic scales, and watched Mary Poppins, but I still don't get the need for I IV V terminology; It seems meaningless without knowing which key I'm in. OTOH if I see C Am F and G7 on a lead sheet, I know which chords to play. Maybe this will become clearer when I get a bit more theory under my belt  ???

Meanwhile, I assume this was a part of what I missed when I dropped out of music and took wood shop, or was it French?

I'm reminded of the times I knocked on friends' doors on Saturday mornings and asked if Johnnie was coming out to play, only to be told "no, he's practicing piano all day today"  :(  I'll bet Johnnie didn't need black dots on the white keys  ;D
« Last Edit: September 11, 2012, 05:36:21 AM by Tom »
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Luca1369

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Re: Chord progressions
« Reply #7 on: September 11, 2012, 06:48:01 AM »
Thanks Steve and Tom. I understand uke tuning and basic scales, and watched Mary Poppins, but I still don't get the need for I IV V terminology; It seems meaningless without knowing which key I'm in. OTOH if I see C Am F and G7 on a lead sheet, I know which chords to play. Maybe this will become clearer when I get a bit more theory under my belt  ???

I think it will come with more use, it's all repetition.  Someone can say "It's a I-IV-V in G" and you'll know it's a blues progression in the key of G.  You'll get used to it with....with..........PRACTICE.
Steve
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Tom

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Re: Chord progressions
« Reply #8 on: September 11, 2012, 08:52:22 AM »
I sure hope so Steve. I've spent the last year developing muscle memory, so at least I can hit 4-6 chords in each of 4 keys when I see the chord names on a lead sheet. I know I many more to learn  :(

One thing I found a little frustrating is having to look at a lead sheet at all; My ear tells me there's a chord change coming, but I have no clue what that next chord is without glancing down. Over the last few days, I repeatedly stumbled my way through a number of songs that use "simple" chords without lead sheets. I had some (limited) success, but I don't know if some of it is coming by ear or by memory.
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SeilerBird

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Re: Chord progressions
« Reply #9 on: September 11, 2012, 09:43:00 AM »
The main use for the I IV V terminology is for transposing. Otherwise they are pretty useless. Let's say you have a chord progression C Am F G7 and you want your friend to sing along with you. She says that it is too low for her to sing comfortably. You want to raise it up a few steps. If you want to raise it from the key of C to the key of E then you only need to know that you are going to use the I vi IV V7 chords in the key of E, which is E C#A B7. Once you understand the Roman numerals transposing is a snap.

The only other real use is for understanding music theory. It makes more sense when learning music theory to refer to scales by the Roman numerals.
« Last Edit: September 11, 2012, 09:50:13 AM by SeilerBird »
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SeilerBird

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Re: Chord progressions
« Reply #10 on: September 11, 2012, 09:55:42 AM »
You might wonder why they use Roman numerals instead of normal numbers. With Roman numerals you can have capitols and lower case. Capitols for majors chords and lower case for minors. Roman numerals also make it easier to notate 6th, 7th and 9th chords. IV6 makes more sense than 46.

Here is an experiment for you to try on your keyboard. First play a C scale. Next play the C Am F G7 chord progression. What do you notice?
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Tom

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Re: Chord progressions
« Reply #11 on: September 11, 2012, 09:59:04 AM »
Thanks for the clarification Tom.

FWIW if I need to transpose to a different key, I either use an online transposer, such as the one they use at Chordie, or I use an app on my Android tablet. They also transpose between different instruments.
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Re: Chord progressions
« Reply #12 on: September 11, 2012, 10:08:11 AM »
I sure hope so Steve. I've spent the last year developing muscle memory, so at least I can hit 4-6 chords in each of 4 keys when I see the chord names on a lead sheet. I know I many more to learn  :(

One thing I found a little frustrating is having to look at a lead sheet at all; My ear tells me there's a chord change coming, but I have no clue what that next chord is without glancing down. Over the last few days, I repeatedly stumbled my way through a number of songs that use "simple" chords without lead sheets. I had some (limited) success, but I don't know if some of it is coming by ear or by memory.

Tom, you're not going through anything that the rest of us haven't been through.  As you advance and develop your skills certain things will become second nature.  Your ears will improve.  Your fingering will improve.  You will develop certain musical instincts and learn to trust them.

It will come in time...with practice and repetition.

It will come in time...with practice and repetition.

It will come in time...with practice and repetition.
Steve
1990 Fleetwood Southwind 36'
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I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move.
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A good traveller has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.
Lao Tsu (570-490 BC)

Tom

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Re: Chord progressions
« Reply #13 on: September 11, 2012, 10:23:11 AM »
LOL Steve. Like the NY cabbie said when asked if he knew how to get to Carnegie Hall - "You practice".
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SeilerBird

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Re: Chord progressions
« Reply #14 on: September 11, 2012, 10:45:20 AM »

FWIW if I need to transpose to a different key, I either use an online transposer, such as the one they use at Chordie, or I use an app on my Android tablet. They also transpose between different instruments.
That is probably a very useful tool. But it is a lot easier and a lot faster to be able to do it in your brain instead.
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Re: Chord progressions
« Reply #15 on: September 11, 2012, 10:55:50 AM »
Quote
... it is a lot easier and a lot faster to be able to do it in your brain instead.

It blows me away every time I see someone do that on the fly.
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SeilerBird

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Re: Chord progressions
« Reply #16 on: September 11, 2012, 11:13:56 AM »
It blows me away every time I see someone do that on the fly.
I have been doing that since high school so it is basically automatic to me. Same thing with chord changes. If I am playing along to a song I have never played too and the chord changes, I can hear the fact it is going to change and my fingers just automatically go to the next chord. Well almost every time. This is not bragging, most any musician who has learned music theory does it this way. The cool thing about learning music theory is that once you learn it for one instrument it applies to all instruments (except drums ;D).
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Re: Chord progressions
« Reply #17 on: September 11, 2012, 12:23:32 PM »
Maybe I'm too old to learn this stuff  ???

FWIW when I sing a song, a capella or accompanied, I never know what the first word of the next line is. Memorizing melody lines of tunes comes naturally to me and, when I open my mouth to hit that note, the words come automatically. It doesn't matter if this is a new song to me or one I've been singing since I was a kid, the same thing happens.

When family was visiting last week, our daughter said she wanted to teach the grandkids God Bless America, but she wasn't sure of the words to the first verse; Most folks only know the second verse. I tried, but couldn't remember the first word, so I sang it, and out came the whole song.
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SeilerBird

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Re: Chord progressions
« Reply #18 on: September 11, 2012, 12:29:44 PM »
Maybe I'm too old to learn this stuff  ???
No way. You are never too old. It is just a matter of practice, practice, practice.
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Luca1369

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Re: Chord progressions
« Reply #19 on: September 11, 2012, 01:05:06 PM »
Tom J. and Tom S.,

    Here's a link to a video of two unique guitarists, watching it was the best 16 minutes and 43 seconds I've spent today.  If you could play your uke like this Tom J. I would certainly be impressed.

http://www.ted.com/talks/usman_riaz_and_preston_reed_a_young_guitarist_meets_his_hero.html?source=facebook#.UE9dZQ_ANTl.facebook
Steve
1990 Fleetwood Southwind 36'
http://seaworthy.com

For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go.
I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move.
Robert Louis Stevenson

A good traveller has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.
Lao Tsu (570-490 BC)

 

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