Basic Chord Progressions 1

Animated Basic Chord Progressions 1 tab by ActionTab on guitar. So easy you'll be playing in minutes.

This example is from the Basic Chord Progressions article in the Theory Section. Go there to understand more about keys and the relevance of the I - IV - V chords in music. We are in the Key of G major, so our I - IV - V chords are:

G major - C major - D major

Here we illustrate some basic I - IV - V progression examples to help you on the way to experimenting with your own songwriting. By all means learn the progressions in this ActionTab - but remember the main purpose is to get you started with your own progressions from these 3 basic chords. So don't worry if it's fast, just listen and see how the I - IV - V chords work well together. This is more apparent at speed.

The first progression is: I - IV - I - V (repeat)

Notice how this simple progression could easily be the basis for a verse or chorus much like 'Knocking on Heaven's Door' by Bob Dylan. Chord progressions don't have to be complex to be the basis of great music. Here we play the C major chord a little differently to a standard C major chord. Notice we use the D note too (green dot). This works fine as D is in the C major scale, but more importantly, it is also in our Key Scale of G major:

G Major Scale: G - A - B - C - D - E - F# - G

This technically means the C chord we are playing is called a 'C major add 9', but don't worry about that for now...think of it as a C major with a D added for flavour. The other reason for using this C chord (rather than a standard C chord) is that the fingers have less work to do when changing from the G major chord. So learning to change between these G major - C major add 9 - D major chords with comfort is also very practical, not just good sounding. This technique is used in Pink Floyd's 'Wish you were here' and many other songs. We will use it throughout this ActionTab for the same reasons: Sounds good, and is practical.

Our second progression is: I - IV - V - V (repeat)

This is faster, and uses barre chords (with thumb-muting, which we assume you already know about!). Yet the progression is perhaps even more basic than before. Here we strum through the I - IV - V chords for the duration of 1 bar (4 beats) each. We then strike the last V chord (D major) once, but mute it for the duration of 1 bar - then return to the start of the progression and repeat again.

This sort of progression is very common. It's upbeat and catchy. Compared to the previous progression you can see how the order of the chords is different - but also the strumming style is very different too. Experiment with your own strumming patterns and progressions like this and you'll find you can come up with your own catchy tunes!

Our third progression is also: I - IV - V - V (repeat)

This time we go back to using open chords. This illustrates the previous point about using the exact same progression, but altering strumming patterns, beats per bar, tempo etc to come up with something quite different!

By the way, notice how the thumb is always in place to mute the low strings - during all 3 chords. This involves clasping your hand around the neck, and may not be for everyone - depending on your finger strength (if you still have problems holding notes with your fingers you need a more acute angle for extra pressure, with your thumb in the centre of the back of the neck instead). However, if you can do it the way we show here - you should. It's very useful for quickly changing between all 3 chords and muting unwanted strings quickly. Don't worry if you haven't got the finger strength yet, that will come the more you practice!

Our final progression is:

I - IV - I - vi - vi - V - IV - I - I (repeat)

Here we get more advanced and extend the progression. We also add the E minor chord. This is one of the 7 chords also in the key of G major. Notice that we use lower case roman numerals for it - vi. That is a convention in music, using Capitals for Major chords, and lower case for minor chords.

As you can see here, just adding one extra chord into the I - IV - V mix can open a wide range of options. This example is just to show you how from those three basic chords you can head off down many avenues. Experiment by adding other chords from the G major key for your own fun. This is a positive way to learn your chords and keys!

Here are the 7 main chords from the G major key:

I - G major
ii - A minor
iii - B minor
IV - C major
V - D major
vi - E major
VII - F# diminished

Have fun!

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