Guitar Chord Progressions

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Guitar lesson 12 – Chord and progression formulas.
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Guitar Chords, Progressions and Formulas

The table below, illustrates the notes and chords in the key of C major.

Guitar chords and progressions in the key of C major

To use the illustration above, you must understand the numbering system. Look above and notice the number under the C in the first box. The number (1) under the C, is also the roman numeral (I). Each note of the major key, has been given a roman numeral to represent it.

The C =1 or I, the D = 2 or ii, the E =3 or iii, the F = 4 or IV, the G = 5 or V, the A = 6 or vi and the B = 7 or vii. 

You can use the lower illustration to play a number of different progressions. I would like to explain of of the most popular progressions that uses the I, IV, V chords. In the key of C major, the chords would be C, F and G. Look below at the 1, 4 and 5 chords. The 1, 4 and 5 guitar chords in the key of C major are the C, F and G.

Roman numerals are usually illustrated to show each note of a particular major key. It would be a good idea to become familiar with this technique. The small letters, (ii, iii, vi) represent the minor chords. Look below at the Dm, Em and Am guitar chords. Roman numerals I, IV, V represent the major guitar chords.

Guitar chords and progressions in the key of C major

Illustrated below, are six different progressions in the key of C major. The progressions use guitar chords that are three note chords, which are called triads. You can play all of these progressions in every major key. The key of C has been illustrated, but try to play them in other keys. The illustration on the left shows the roman numbers, the illustration to the right shows the chords and progressions. It’s very important that you understand this. You will find tons of progressions in the progression charts in the Gold Level members section.

l V l V
C G  F C
C G  F G
l ii iii V
I ii iii vi
ii lV l
ii V l
C Dm Em G
C Dm Em Am
C Dm F C
C Dm G C
I ii I ii
I ii iii I
I ii iii ii
I ii iii IV
C Dm C Dm
C Dm Em C
C Dm Em Dm
C Dm Em F

The progression illustrated below, is a popular progression using the following chords.

 I   IV   V    I

Look to the left and find those chords. You should have noticed that the roman numerals above, represent the C, F and G chords.

There are a ton of songs that use the  I   IV   V    I progression. Maybe do a little research and find some of those songs and begin to use this progression to learn a few of those songs.


Major Chord Formulas

  • (Major)         1, 3, 5
  • (Major 7)      1, 3, 5, 7
  • (Major 9)      1, 3, 5, 7, 9
  • (Major 11)    1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11
Minor Chord Formulas

  • (minor)        1, b3, 5
  • (minor 7)     1, b3, 5, b7)
  • (minor 9)     1, b3, 5, b7, 9)
  • (minor 11)   1, b3, 5, b7, 9, 11)
seventh————1, 3, 5, b7
ninth—————1, 3, 5, b7, 9
eleventh———–1, 3, 5, b7, 9, 11
thirteenth———1, 3, 5, b7, 9, 13
diminished——–1, b3, b5
full diminished—-1, b3, b5, bb7
half diminished—1, b3, b5, b7

Play the root 6 and root 5 bar chords.

Use the uppermost table to play a 1, 4, 5  progression using the root 6 and root 5 bar chords.

This progression would use the C, F and G chords. Start at the 8th fret, root 6 or E type for the C. Use the root 5 or A type for the F and G chords, 8th and 10th frets, A string.

Record these chords on a recorder and play the Am pentatonic root fret and the next position starting on the C note 8th fret.

Good Luck,

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