Chord progression

IV-V-I in C
IV-V-I progression in C

A chord progression or harmonic progression is a succession of musical chords, which are three or more notes, typically sounded simultaneously. Chord progressions are the foundation of harmony in Western musical tradition from the common practice era of Classical music to the 21st century. Chord progressions are the foundation of Western popular music styles (e.g., pop music, rock music) and traditional music (e.g., blues and jazz).

Relation to the circle of fifths

The circle of fifths is an idea in music theory that has to do with keys. It also has to do with chord progressions. If you have a song with the chord progression G, C, D, you can see those chords are right next to each other in the circle. So if you want to play the same song in a different key, you can use any other three chords right next to each other. This works for any chord progression.

Common chord progressions

One of the most used chord progressions is based on the first, fourth and fifth notes of a major scale. In the key of C, these are the C, F, and G chords. This progression is used in many simple songs. Since these songs have only three chords, they are sometimes called three-chord songs. Many country, blues, rock, pop and punk songs are three-chord songs.

Related pages


Chord progression for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.