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Chord progression in E major key

Question by Eddie

Question: I'm a green hand. I've just started reading and studying songwriting theory on this website.

I've made a simple chord progression in E major key but I have a problem here.

E / B / C#m / A
E / B / D / A
E / B / C#m / A
E / B / D / Bsus4 B

There's a 'D' on second line and fourth line, between dominant chord B and subdominant chord A. But there shouldn't be 'D' in E major scale.

I'd like to know if there can be 'D' as it sounds not bad.

If there can be, what's the scale of the progression?


Hi Eddie,

The first "rule" of songwriting is... if it sounds good, use it! Allow yourself plenty of room for intuition.

The guitar chord progressions section is still expanding and, as mentioned in some of the lessons, the idea is that you'll eventually only use that scale as a foundation to build on.

Clearly, you've been experimenting independently, and that's great because you've found a movement that works outside that foundation scale and supports the other relationships we've learned.

That D major chord does indeed work, and it's a relationship I will be covering in a future lesson entitled "backdoor progressions".

That D major chord could be seen as a bVII in relation to the scale we've looked at.

I really like how you move from D to Bsus4. A really effective use of the dominant (V) position.

So, in summary, please don't restrict yourself to what's been taught so far in the songwriting section. There's much more to come and it sounds like you're one step ahead with all this so well done!

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By: Anonymous

Music Theory is just that; theory, not fact. It's an on going process of discovery by musicians since music began. We musicians have decided what works and what doesn't. Music would be stagnant if there was no experimentation. If it sounds good to you use it, if listeners like it as well that's a bonus. Most of all enjoy the process of discovery.

Different scales
By: Anonymous

That D is fine, as long as your key stays in E mixolydian.

Mixolydian scale is when you flat the 7th note of a scale. So since the 7th note in E major scale is D sharp, you flat that, and now you have E mixolydian scale. It's a common way of writing melodies.

Listen to John Mayer's "Good Love Is On The Way". The key of the song is in A mixolydian. He also solos in A mixolydian.

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