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Chord Progressions question

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(@rgalvez)
Prominent Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 717
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Hi there!
I always wanted to know why chords progression should be theoretically with a given order, for instance: ii - V- I, or iii- VI- IV-V-I. but not iii-ii-IV- iii-I or VII- ii- I. I know everything is possible and the best answer is because 'some progressions' work better for the ear than others. But extricly theoretically why is it possible? I was reading that everything is a matter of combining Tonal, subdominants and dominants chords and their substitution, and it's a mix of tensions and resolutions. Can someone of you gurus out there develop this subject?

Cheers and glad to be back again
Roberto


   
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(@fretsource)
Prominent Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 973
 

Chords, (or chord roots to be more precise) that rise or fall a fifth (or fourth) are considered strong progressions - as Neztok says.

Also, in general, chords that rise a second are considered stronger than chords that fall a second. (e.g., ii - iii is more common than iii-ii)
Chords that fall a third are considered a bit stronger than those that rise a third.

But it also depends on where their place in the scale is.
The progression I - vi - ii - V is considered strong because it contains the important triads I & V and moves from one to the other (a natural progression to a cadence point) by way of the following root movement intervals, all of which are considered strong:
falling 3rd, (I - vi), falling 5th (or rising 4th), (vi - ii) and rising 4th (ii - V).

"Stronger" doesn't necessarily mean better, though - Often the so called 'weak' progressions are exactly what's needed in music, whether it's a song or a symphony, (e.g., House of the Rising Sun - Animals version with a lot of rising 3rds) but the strong progressions are far more common.


   
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(@drunkrock)
Estimable Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 159
 

Hi there!
I know everything is possible and the best answer is because 'some progressions' work better for the ear than others. But extricly theoretically why is it possible?

I would like to take an amateur stab at this...

'Some progressions work better for your ear' is the best answer because music theory really is an examination of what past composers have done. If the thousands and millions of examples of music used a ii-VII-iii progression istead of the I-IV-V, then we would be saying that progressions 'like' to resolve to the ii through the iii.


   
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(@fretsource)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 973
 

If the thousands and millions of examples of music used a ii-VII-iii progression istead of the I-IV-V, then we would be saying that progressions 'like' to resolve to the ii through the iii.

Yes - the conventions I outlined apply only to Tonal music. They apply to tonal music for 'sound' psycho-acoustical reasons, though. Tonal music involves arranging notes to form various pitch relationships which create and maintain a tonal centre in the mind of the listener,and that's what those progressions do.
You're right, though, they would be meaningless in non-tonal music.


   
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