Common Chord Progressions Used in Music You Hear

A chord progression is a pattern of three or four chords that are repeated throughout a song.

There are some chord progressions that are used in songs over and over again. Sometimes as they are, sometimes in combos with each other and sometimes with slight alternations to make things interesting.

Some songs switch back and forth from different chords for the verse and chorus. Other songs use a single chord progression all through.

Learning them will allow you to pick them up whenever you hear a song. It will also help you to write songs that are unique.

Note that the Nashville Number System is used to talk about chord progressions. In the system, each note in the scale is given a number one through seven and they are written in Roman numerals.

Here are some of them:

I-vi-IV-V

This was popular in the 50s and is usually called the 50s progression. It is still used in modern times as you will find it in Justin Bieber’s “Baby” or Sean Kingston’s “Beautiful Girls”.

I-IV-V-IV

This was used in La Bamba.

vi-IV-I-V

This was used in Green Day’s “Holiday” and Cranberries’ “Zombie” and Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ “Snow”. It was also used in hit songs such as: Beyonce – “If I was a Boy”, Bon Jovi – “It’s my life”, Enrique Iglesias – “Bailando”, Lady Gaga – “Poker Face”, Bruno Mars – “Grenade”.

This particular progression is normally associated with heroism. You’ll find it in many movie trailers.

vi-V-IV-III

It’s been used in Stray Cat Strut and California Dreaming. A variation of it is vi-V-VI-V.

V-IV-I

It is the famous Sweet Home Alabama one.

ii-IV-V

It is usually used as a larger progression. You met it in Purple Haze and Iron Man.

Blues progression

It follows the 12-bar blues progression. In it, it’s common to switch between major and minor. It’s been used in thousands of songs outside the Blues.