Piano Chord Progressions & SONGS (Music Theory 101 Part 4)

If you’ve gone from the basics of piano notes to piano chords, then it’s time to take that knowledge one step further. Let’s talk about chord progressions!

This is the part where I could wedge in a bad pun about progress. But let’s just watch this short and sweet video on chord progressions instead. 😉

What Are Chord Progressions?

This is almost too easy of a question. Chord progressions are just chords played together in a specific order or sequence. That’s all they are. Chords, one after another. (Hopefully chords that sound good together!)

Let’s look at an example from John Legend’s song “All of Me.” Such a classic! And the chord progressions in each section are the framework for this feel-good love song. So how does this work?

The song starts with these chords: Em, C, G, D. These are all simple and common chords, but playing them in this order is all you need to do to start playing “All of Me.” If you’re at a piano or keyboard and know these chords, go ahead and play them in that order now. You can do it! Again, it’s just Em, C, G, D.

Got it? Okay, if you can play that chord progression then you can play the intro and verses for this song. What about the pre-chorus, the chorus, the bridge?

You guessed it: those sections have chord progressions too. I get into the details of this song here, so go check that out if you’re interested.

Song Sections and Chord Progressions

chord progressionsEvery song will have at least one chord progression, but usually there will be at least two. That makes sense if you think about what most songs include. Unless you listen to more experimental music, most of your favorite tunes probably go something like this: intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus.

With some slight variations, it’s still safe to say that almost every song you can think of will have at least a couple verses and a few repetitions of a chorus! So that’s why you’ll usually see songs with at least two chord progressions: one for the verses, one for the choruses.

Technically, there’s no rule that says a song can’t have completely different chord progressions for every different section. But that’s rarely the case, and anyway: if you can play most chords the way I teach them, you can play most chord progressions no matter how many you encounter. 😉

Does Any Combination Work?

So, what do you think: can any chord combination be a chord progression? Sort of… but just because something is possible doesn’t mean it’s a good idea!

Like so many things in life, knowing what works will save you a lot of time – and hopefully keep your ears happy. To figure out what chords “belong” in a chord progression, you actually need to know a bit about scales and keys. (Or if you’re one of those cool people with a natural musical ear, you can figure this out on your own. I’m jealous.)

If you know what key a song is in, it’s not too hard to identify which chords belong there. And that’s going to be the topic of my next music theory post, but for now, let’s review.

Wrapping Up

As you now know, chord progressions are just sequences of chords. Ideally they sound good together, because ideally they’ll be in the same key as the song.

There may be multiple chord progressions in any song, but knowing your chords (like how I explain in my free 5-day workbook) will have you well on your way to playing so many chord progressions without a lot of fuss!

You can get started by clicking on the button below, and before you know it you’ll be able to play songs you love. It all starts with notes, then chords, and then… chord progressions. Enjoy!

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