As atoms are the ‘stuff of life,’ so too are chord progressions the basic building blocks of all music.
From Bach and Beethoven to Rihanna and Taylor Swift, every song you’ve ever heard can be reduced to a set of repeating chord changes known as chord progressions. Although chords can be combined in countless combinations, the I V vi IV chord progression is one of the most popular chord progressions in music today.
What’s Up with the Roman Numerals?
In music theory, chord progressions are written in Roman numerals while scale degrees are written in Arabic numerals. Capital Roman numerals (like I, IV, & V) represent major chords while lower case Roman numerals (like ii, iii, & vi) represent minor chords.
As you can see the I, IV, & V chords are major while the vi chord is minor. In the key of G major, the I V vi IV chord progression is played using the chords G, D, E minor, & C.
Songs that Use the I V vi IV Chord Progression
Beast of Burden by the Rolling Stones, When I Come Around by Green Day, and Someone Like You by Adele all feature the I V vi IV chord progression, but the actual list of songs built around this simple chord progression would be too exhausting to list. In fact, the I V vi IV chord progression is so popular, the Austrailian musical comedy act, Axis of Awesome, achieved worldwide fame for their satirical song Four Chords, a medley of 73-songs featuring the exact same chord progression!
*Don’t Forget to Jam Along with the Backing Track!
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