This lesson is part of a larger series of major scale related lessons, so
make sure you've at least
been through the introductory major
Understanding how major scale chord progressions are built will allow
you to play the scale over a sequence of chords in a given major key.
I'll provide a chart of the most common major scale progressions at the
end of this lesson, but I encourage you to spend some time getting to
know the theory behind it all.
Major scale chords
The first thing we need to do is build a chord scale around
the intervals of the major scale. This means we take each
degree of the scale and use them as root notes for our major scale
chords as follows:
The upper case numerals represent major chords (I, IV, V), lower case
chords (ii, iii, vi, vii). So, by making sure you know the intervals of
the major scale,
you'll automatically know the intervals of this chord scale.
If the tonic (I)
chord was D
for example, the other chords would be
built accordingly, based on the D major scale intervals...
From this, we could build progressions in the key of D major,
various combinations of the other chords in the scale. This means that
the D major
scale would be compatible over the entire progression.
As the E minor and A major chords are taken from that D major chord
we could even play the D major scale over a progression that just uses
the ii and V chords back and forth and it would still be compatible!
By learning the sound of these chord intervals across several keys,
you'll train your ear to pick out these major scale compatible chord
If the tonic was Bb major,
we could use the Bb major scale around any progression built from its
So, spend time trying to apply this chord scale, based on your
knowledge of the major scale's intervals, in different keys.
chord defines the key of the progression, and therefore any progression
pulled from it.
The tonic chord also defines the key
of your major
scale solo, as the root note of the tonic chord should be the same as
the root note of the major scale.
The roman numerals are just to show you the chord relationships without
specifying a key. It's the interval
movement that gives these progressions their sound, no
matter what key they're in.
For example, Cmaj / Fmaj / Gmaj is the same as Amaj / Dmaj / Emaj. Both
these are 1 4 5 (I IV V) progressions in two different keys, the first
in C major, the other in A major. Both will sound the same, just in a
different pitch ("higher" or "lower").
Major scale chord progressions chart
The chart below shows you some common major scale chord progressions in
different keys. The idea is to really get to know the sound of these
chord movements in as many different keys as possible so you don't have
to rely on your solos being in the same key all the time.
these chord sequences on your guitar. Even just playing the bass notes
of each chord along the low E and A strings will help train your ear to
these interval movements.
Remember that these progressions can
be reordered (for example you could play I V ii instead of ii V I -
same chords). You should also try modifying them, adding other chords
from the scale. I just use the basic open chord or barre chord forms
for getting to know these interval relationships.
I IV V
V vi IV
A D E
Bm E A
A E F#m D
A C#m D
B E F#
C#m F# B
B F# Ab E
B Ebm E
C F G
Dm G C
C G Am F
C Em F
D G A
Em A D
D A Bm G
D F#m G
E A B
F#m B E
E B C#m A
E Abm A
F Bb C
Gm C F
F C Dm Bb
F Am Bb
G C D
Am D G
G D Em C
G Bm C
Of course there are sharp and flat keys as well, but the main thing is
you experiment with these major scale chord intervals and how these
relationships sound. Spend time mastering this, and you'll be able to
write chord progressions for major scale soloing. Also, you'll be able
to identify a chord progression suitable for using the major scale over.
this lesson helpful? Please let others know, cheers...