The Most Common Chord Progressions

The number of chord progressions you can create is virtually endless. However, there are certain ones that keep popping up over and over.

That’s because they sound great and lend themselves to catchy melody writing.

Let’s take a look at a few that have stood the test of time.

11 Common Chord Progressions




  1. simpsons tapped out secrets

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  2. Dannon

    Can you explain the color coding and the tonic, subdominant, dominant relationship; especially, what it means for a song like Mr. Jones to have one tonic chord and three subdominant chords.

    • Neil

      Sure thing. I made this chart a while ago and since then I’ve learned quite a bit more about minor key harmony. Now that I take a fresh look at this I believe that I’ll need to adjust the Mr. Jones section.

      The color coding refers to each chord’s Diatonic Function

      For major keys there are three diatonic functions are typically (German school of thought):

      I Tonic
      ii Subdominant
      iii Tonic
      IV Subdominant
      V Dominant
      vi Tonic
      vii Dominant

      I like this 3 function method because it keeps it simple. For minor keys it seems to be a bit more complicated. Their dominant functions are as follows:

      i Tonic
      ii° Super Tonic
      III Mediant
      iv Subdominant
      V Dominant
      VI Submediant
      VII Subtonic?

      I just posted a link about the qualities of the three dominant functions here.

      So it looks like Mr. Jones would be a “Tonic” Chord going to a “Submediant” going to a “Subdominant” and then a “Subtonic”.

      I would also adjust the bVI and bVII chords to not shoe the”b”. I think that is implied already as the root notes are already flatted in a minor key.

      Pleas let me know if this helps or just confuses the lesson.