That's right, these are the chord progressions we have to face in our daily, uphill battle against old, played out music. If you have any chord progressions you think belong in the top 10, in place of one of these, node it and I'll change it :)

* In no particular order

  1. I | IV (one of the most basic, and most overused progressions around. Used in James Brown - Sex Machine)
  2. i | IV (Used in Tito Puente - Oye Como Va and Herbie Hancock - Chameleon)
  3. I | IV | V (happy pop sound. Used in Green Day - Time of Your Life)
  4. I | V | IV (thanks, Third Eye Blind, all your latest hits use this progression. Also used in Blink 182 - All The Small Things (chorus))
  5. I | V | vi | IV (hooray for Blink 182, *cough*)
  6. i | VII | VI | V (Hit the Road Jack, and several Flamenco pieces)
  7. I | vi | IV | V (50s happy doowop. Used in Ben E. King - Stand By Me, the first chords of The Beatles - This Boy, and Every Breath You Take by The Police)
  8. I | VII | IV (rock)
  9. ii | V | I (jazz standard. Autumn Leaves begins with these chords)
  10. I | IV | I | I | IV | IV | I | I | V | IV | I | I (12 bar blues, another jazz standard. Used in Jimmy Hendrix - Red House and B.B.King - Everyday I Have The Blues)
While certainly some of these chord progressions were revolutionary and are still key in reproducing some of today's most classic genres, we'd still like certain genres of music to move forward and introduce to us new chord progressions. I have a feeling that although new chord progressions might sound weird at first, with enough use we'd easily attach an emotion or mood to them, just as we did to the blues and to the 50's bebop progression--I bet if the 4 chord blues were played in the 17th century, everyone'd think it was odd and dissonant crap. People adjust. It's just that when 4 of Blink 182's hits use the same exact chord progression (Alien, Dammit, What's My Age Again, M&Ms) .. I begin to raise an eyebrow (or two, as my eyebrows raise and abdominal muscles tighten in preparation to vomit)

Surely I don't want these chord progressions all to be put out of existence. Some of my favorite songs use them. This list is mainly here to make us aware that sometimes what we call different, new and fabulous has really been done hundreds of times before. Surely the greater value of a song can lie in its lyrics but as my favorite type of music is instrumental (which I often find just as moving as lyrical music) I tend to appreciate more those songs that break away from a standard chord progression, rhythmic pattern or time signature. Sorry, I've heard all the great 12 bar blues songs--I don't think I want to hear any new artists tear this thing apart again, beacuse I doubt they could reproduce it as well as its originators, and even if they did, the fact still remains that it's been done before.


Confused? For starters, upper case chords are major, and lower case are minor. Check out chord progression and chord for more information.