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CHAPTER 6:
How Chords and Chord Progressions
REALLY Work
  
6.9 Chase Charts of the Four Types of Chord Progressions

 
PAGE INDEX
  

6.9.1 How to Do a Chase Chart of Your Own Song (or Any Other Song)

6.9.2 Chase Charts of Fifth Progressions, Up and Down

6.9.3 Chase Charts of Fifths Up, To and From the Tonic Chord

6.9.4 Chase Charts of Fifths Up, Away from the Tonic Chord

6.9.5 Chase Chart of Secondary Dominants

6.9.6 Chase Charts of Third Progressions, Up and Down

6.9.7 Chase Charts of Second Progressions, Up and Down

6.9.8 Chase Charts of Chromatic Progressions, Exiting and Returning

6.9.9 Chase Charts of the General Patterns of Chord Progressions

 

~ • ~ • ~ • ~


6.9.1

HOW TO DO A CHASE CHART OF YOUR OWN SONG (OR ANY OTHER SONG)


Now that you’ve drawn a basic Chase chart with Nashville Numbers and the harmonic scale of a particular key, the last step is to draw arrows from one chord to the next chord inside the circular harmonic scales diagram.


     Draw the arrows in the order that they occur in the chord progression of the song.


     Never mind the melody. Never mind the time signature. Never mind the tempo. Never mind the meter.


     In a Chase chart, the only thing of interest is the chord progression.


     As discussed earlier in this chapter, there are four kinds of chord progressions:


     1.  Fifth progressions, up and down


     2.  Third progressions, up and down


     3.  Second progressions, up and down


     4.  Chromatic progressions, exiting and returning.


     (If you happen to be a physics aficionado in search of mnemonic for fifth, third, and second progressions, up and down, Ellie Sue at the Dodge City Horse Store claims Ms Puma remembers them by associating them with up and down quarks, anti-up and anti-down antiquarks, and up and down escalators, respectively. Apparently, she associates chromatic progressions with all other flavours of fermions. Hope this helps.)


     The key to the effectiveness of a Chase chart lies in recognizing and understanding the significance of the visual patterns the arrows make. Each type of chord progression has a distinct visual pattern.


   

6.9.2

CHASE CHARTS OF FIFTH PROGRESSIONS, UP AND DOWN


Recognizing the patterns of the various chord progression types is important because each type of chord progression has advantages you can exploit and disadvantages you can avoid.


     Figure 66 below maps the visual patterns of fifth progressions, up and down. The chords around the outside happen to be in the key of C major / A minor in this example. However, you could plug in the chords for any key you choose.

 

        Fifth progressions down: the arrows go clockwise around the circle.

 

        Fifth progressions up: the arrows go counterclockwise around the circle.


     Around the inside of the circle, the Nashville Numbers always remain the same.


     Recall that “fifth progression” simply means a progression of two chords whose roots are five scale notes apart. Figure 66 below shows the Chase chart patterns of fifth progressions down and up.

 

 



FIGURE 66  Chase Chart: Fifth Progressions, Down and Up







     The fifth down is the strongest chord progression in harmony. In the Chase charts of examples of GSSL songs, you’ll see sections of the above patterns everywhere—especially fifth-down patterns.


     The fifth down has one main drawback. Because it’s so powerful, everybody uses it. It’s the most commonly used type of progression. Safe and familiar. A string of fifth-down progressions sounds so familiar as to create an effect of predictability—but it’s a comfortable predictability.


     Fifths up, on the other hand, are usually weak progressions. But not always ...



6.9.3

CHASE CHARTS OF FIFTHS UP, TO AND FROM THE TONIC CHORD


Fifths up to the tonic from the IV chord, and fifths up from the tonic to the V7 chord, have considerable power, owing to their special relationships with the tonic chord (as discussed in snoring detail earlier in this chapter). Figure 67 below maps the Chase chart patterns of fifths up, to and from the tonic.

 

 



FIGURE 67  Chase Chart: Fifths Up, To and From the Tonic

 






     Note that in Figure 67, the arrows in the “minor key” diagram point downwards on the page. But those are still fifth-up progressions—the arrows go counterclockwise, the fifth-up direction.



6.9.4

CHASE CHARTS OF FIFTHS UP, AWAY FROM THE TONIC CHORD


Fifth-up progressions that do not involve the tonic tend to be weak (Figure 68):




FIGURE 68  Chase Charts: Fifth Progressions Up, Away from the Tonic Chord






 

     Clunky sounding chord progressions are often found to have consecutive fifth-ups, away from the tonic. Not always, but more often than not.



6.9.5

CHASE CHART OF SECONDARY DOMINANTS


Secondary dominants apply only to fifth down progressions. Discussions of secondary dominants often get complicated and mystical.


     No need. It’s completely straightforward:

A secondary dominant is a V or V7 chord of a harmonic degree other than the tonic chord.

     In Figure 69 below, the A7 variant chord in place of the default chord Am becomes the secondary dominant of the D-based chord that follows. The progression A7 – D is a fifth down progression. The chord A7 is the secondary dominant of D.


     Similarly, D7, the variant chord in place of the default Dm, becomes the secondary dominant of the G-based chord that follows. The progression D7 – G7 is a fifth down progression. The chord D7 is the secondary dominant of G7.


     A variant chord is a chord having the same root (letter-name) as the default chord at any of the seven positions around a circular harmonic scale. For example, in Figure 69 below, at the Ilm position, Dm is the default chord. However, you could substitute any other chord beginning with the letter D at the IIm position, such as D7, Dsus4, Dm7, D9, D13♭9, or any of 30 or more other “D” chord variants. (Chord progressions are combinatorial.)


     In Figure 69, the default chord in the IIm position is Dm. To make this a secondary dominant, you substitute the variant chord D7 in place of the usual Dm chord. The chord D7 then become the secondary dominant of G7.




FIGURE 69  Chase Chart: Secondary Dominants



 




     Secondary dominants are also called tonicizations (discussed in Chapter 5) because they briefly make the next harmonic degree chord the tonic. Examples coming up will show you how secondary dominants are used in songs.

   


6.9.6

CHASE CHARTS OF THIRD PROGRESSIONS, UP AND DOWN


Figure 70 below maps the patterns for third progressions, both “up” and “down.”


     In a Chase chart, the visual characteristic of a third progression is that the arrow goes across the circle, skipping two chords on one side of the arrow, and three on the other.


     Thirds and other chord progressions except fifths crisscross the circle in all kinds of patterns, as you’ll see in the examples coming up.




FIGURE 70  Chase Chart: Third Progressions, Up and Down



 




     Third progressions, up or down, tend to be pretty weak, because the two chords that make up a third progression have two notes in common. For example, the chord C major consists of the notes C, E, and G. The chord A minor consists of the notes A, C, and E.


     On the other hand, the fact of having two notes in common makes third progressions sound pretty smooth, which has its advantages. The familiar third-down progression C – Am, for example, sounds remarkably smooth.


     Third progressions involving a major and a minor chord can sound quite palatable because of the major-minor mood contrast.


     As well, third progressions sound stronger if one of the two chords in the progression is altered such that the two chords no longer have two notes in common. For example, the progression C – Em is a typical third progression with the two chords having two notes in common:

 

        C chord = C, E, G

         Em chord = E, G, B.

 

        Changing Em to E7 removes one of the notes in common: E7 = E, G♯, B, D. Also, as a seventh chord, E7 contains the tritone (like all seventh chords), so it’s conspicuously dissonant, adding to harmonic interest.


     Chord progressions by thirds have opposite directionality to progressions by fifths:

 

        Thirds down progress counterclockwise (e.g., C – Am)

 

        Thirds up progress clockwise (e.g., C – E7)


   Repeat: this is exactly the opposite of fifth-progression directionality.


     Thirds down tend to be more popular than thirds up.



6.9.7

CHASE CHARTS OF SECOND PROGRESSIONS, UP AND DOWN


Figure 71 below maps the Chase chart patterns for second progressions, up and down.


     In a Chase chart, the visual characteristic of a second progression is that the arrow skips one chord in the circle.


     Chord progressions by seconds have the same directionality as progressions by fifths:

 

        Seconds down progress clockwise (e.g., C – Bº)

 

        Seconds up progress counterclockwise (e.g., C – Dm)





FIGURE 71  Chase Chart: Second Progressions, Up and Down







     Second progressions, both up and down, have a lot of power (almost as much as fifths down) because the two chords in the progression have no notes in common. For example, the chord C major consists of the notes C, E, and G. The chord D minor consists of the notes D, F, and A. So the progression C – Dm marks a significant harmonic change. It’s a strong progression.


     The main disadvantage is that clumsy use of second progressions can blur the sense of tonality.


     In general, in any Chase chart, the closer the arrows are to the edge of the circle, the stronger the progression: fifths first, then seconds, then thirds.



6.9.8

CHASE CHARTS OF CHROMATIC PROGRESSIONS, EXITING AND RETURNING


A chord whose root lies outside the diatonic scale of the prevailing key is a chromatic chord. In a Chase chart, a chromatic chord is located outside of the circular harmonic scale.


     The visual pattern shows an arrow connecting the exit chord of the harmonic scale with the chromatic chord. Another arrow connects the chromatic chord with the return chord of the harmonic scale (Figure 72).


     Visually, the chromatic chord is usually positioned between the exit and return chords. Sometimes the same harmonic scale chord is used as both exit and return chord. This is represented by two side-by-side arrows pointing in opposite directions.




FIGURE 72  Four Chase Chart Examples of Chromatic Chord Progressions: Exit Chord Is the Tonic Chord







     Less frequently, the exit chord of a chromatic chord progression is a chord other than the tonic. Figure 73 below shows some examples.




FIGURE 73  Four Chase Chart Examples of Chromatic Chord Progressions: Exit Chord Is Not the Tonic






 

     Like second progressions, chromatic progressions stand out. Chromatic chords are foreign to the key. They command listener attention.


     However, tonality can easily fall apart with clumsy handling of chromatic chords. That’s why it’s prudent, when introducing a chromatic chord, to return to the harmonic scale quickly, usually within a bar or two. If this doesn’t happen, it probably means the tonality (key) is changing (modulation).



6.9.9

CHASE CHARTS OF THE GENERAL PATTERNS OF CHORD PROGRESSIONS


Figure 74 below maps the general pattern of a chord progression in a popular song or any other piece of music—from the humblest folk song to the grandest symphony.


     Typically, the chord progression begins with the tonic chord, then progresses to several other chords and chord variants, and finally finds its way back to the tonic via the V7 chord:


I – [any number of other chords] – V7 – I




FIGURE 74  Chase Chart: General Pattern of a Chord Progression, Major Key



 




     In a minor key, the chord progression typically starts with the VIm chord and finds its way back to the VIm chord via the III7 chord (Figure 75 below):


VIm – [any number of other chords] – III7 – VIm




FIGURE 75  Chase chart: General Pattern of a Chord Progression, Minor Key






 

~ • ~ • ~ • ~

 

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You are reading the FREE SAMPLE Chapters 1 through 6 of the acclaimed 12-Chapter book, How Music REALLY Works!, 2nd Edition. Here's what's in Chapters 7 through 12. 

 

To order the book, click here:

  
 

 

 

 TABLE OF
 CONTENTS

  

 PART I

 The Big Picture    Introduction

   1. W-5 of Music
  
2. Pop Music
   
    Industry

  
 PART II
 Essential
 Building Blocks
 of Music
   3.
Tones/Overtones
   4. Scales/Intervals
   5. Keys/Modes
 
 PART III
 How to Create
 Emotionally
 Powerful Music
 and Lyrics
   6.
Chords/
  
      Progressions

   7. Pulse/Meter/
  
      Tempo/Rhythm

   8. Phrase/Form
   9. Melody
 10. Lyrics
 11. Repertoire/
     
  Performance

  

 PART IV
 Making a
 Living In Music
 12.
Business of
   
     Music

 
 Appendixes

   

 Notes

   

 References

  

 Index
  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   Top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 TABLE OF
 CONTENTS

  

 PART I

 The Big Picture    Introduction

   1. W-5 of Music
  
2. Pop Music
   
    Industry

  
 PART II
 Essential
 Building Blocks
 of Music
   3.
Tones/Overtones
   4. Scales/Intervals
   5. Keys/Modes
 
 PART III
 How to Create
 Emotionally
 Powerful Music
 and Lyrics
   6.
Chords/
  
      Progressions

   7. Pulse/Meter/
  
      Tempo/Rhythm

   8. Phrase/Form
   9. Melody
 10. Lyrics
 11. Repertoire/
     
  Performance

  

 PART IV
 Making a
 Living In Music
 12.
Business of
   
     Music

 
 Appendixes

   

 Notes

   

 References

  

 Index
  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   Top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 TABLE OF
 CONTENTS

  

 PART I

 The Big Picture    Introduction

   1. W-5 of Music
  
2. Pop Music
   
    Industry

  
 PART II
 Essential
 Building Blocks
 of Music
   3.
Tones/Overtones
   4. Scales/Intervals
   5. Keys/Modes
 
 PART III
 How to Create
 Emotionally
 Powerful Music
 and Lyrics
   6.
Chords/
  
      Progressions

   7. Pulse/Meter/
  
      Tempo/Rhythm

   8. Phrase/Form
   9. Melody
 10. Lyrics
 11. Repertoire/
     
  Performance

  

 PART IV
 Making a
 Living In Music
 12.
Business of
   
     Music

 
 Appendixes

   

 Notes

   

 References

  

 Index
  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   Top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 TABLE OF
 CONTENTS

  

 PART I

 The Big Picture    Introduction

   1. W-5 of Music
  
2. Pop Music
   
    Industry

  
 PART II
 Essential
 Building Blocks
 of Music
   3.
Tones/Overtones
   4. Scales/Intervals
   5. Keys/Modes
 
 PART III
 How to Create
 Emotionally
 Powerful Music
 and Lyrics
   6.
Chords/
  
      Progressions

   7. Pulse/Meter/
  
      Tempo/Rhythm

   8. Phrase/Form
   9. Melody
 10. Lyrics
 11. Repertoire/
     
  Performance

  

 PART IV
 Making a
 Living In Music
 12.
Business of
   
     Music

 
 Appendixes

   

 Notes

   

 References

  

 Index
  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   Top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 TABLE OF
 CONTENTS

  

 PART I

 The Big Picture    Introduction

   1. W-5 of Music
  
2. Pop Music
   
    Industry

  
 PART II
 Essential
 Building Blocks
 of Music
   3.
Tones/Overtones
   4. Scales/Intervals
   5. Keys/Modes
 
 PART III
 How to Create
 Emotionally
 Powerful Music
 and Lyrics
   6.
Chords/
  
      Progressions

   7. Pulse/Meter/
  
      Tempo/Rhythm

   8. Phrase/Form
   9. Melody
 10. Lyrics
 11. Repertoire/
     
  Performance

  

 PART IV
 Making a
 Living In Music
 12.
Business of
   
     Music

 
 Appendixes

   

 Notes

   

 References

  

 Index
  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   Top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 TABLE OF
 CONTENTS

  

 PART I

 The Big Picture    Introduction

   1. W-5 of Music
  
2. Pop Music
   
    Industry

  
 PART II
 Essential
 Building Blocks
 of Music
   3.
Tones/Overtones
   4. Scales/Intervals
   5. Keys/Modes
 
 PART III
 How to Create
 Emotionally
 Powerful Music
 and Lyrics
   6.
Chords/
  
      Progressions

   7. Pulse/Meter/
  
      Tempo/Rhythm

   8. Phrase/Form
   9. Melody
 10. Lyrics
 11. Repertoire/
     
  Performance

  

 PART IV
 Making a
 Living In Music
 12.
Business of
   
     Music

 
 Appendixes

   

 Notes

   

 References

  

 Index
  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   Top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 TABLE OF
 CONTENTS

  

 PART I

 The Big Picture    Introduction

   1. W-5 of Music
  
2. Pop Music
   
    Industry

  
 PART II
 Essential
 Building Blocks
 of Music
   3.
Tones/Overtones
   4. Scales/Intervals
   5. Keys/Modes
 
 PART III
 How to Create
 Emotionally
 Powerful Music
 and Lyrics
   6.
Chords/
  
      Progressions

   7. Pulse/Meter/
  
      Tempo/Rhythm

   8. Phrase/Form
   9. Melody
 10. Lyrics
 11. Repertoire/
     
  Performance

  

 PART IV
 Making a
 Living In Music
 12.
Business of
   
     Music

 
 Appendixes

   

 Notes

   

 References

  

 Index
  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   Top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 TABLE OF
 CONTENTS

  

 PART I

 The Big Picture    Introduction

   1. W-5 of Music
  
2. Pop Music
   
    Industry

  
 PART II
 Essential
 Building Blocks
 of Music
   3.
Tones/Overtones
   4. Scales/Intervals
   5. Keys/Modes
 
 PART III
 How to Create
 Emotionally
 Powerful Music
 and Lyrics
   6.
Chords/
  
      Progressions

   7. Pulse/Meter/
  
      Tempo/Rhythm

   8. Phrase/Form
   9. Melody
 10. Lyrics
 11. Repertoire/
     
  Performance

  

 PART IV
 Making a
 Living In Music
 12.
Business of
   
     Music

 
 Appendixes

   

 Notes

   

 References

  

 Index
  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   Top

 

 

 

 

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