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Chord Progressions - I-IV Progressions

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Previous page: Chord Progressions - The subdominant (IV) chord Next page: Chord Progressions - The Double Message of the I-IV change

Before we go to specific keys, I will point at the nice relation between the I-chord played as an A-shape with partial barré fingeringand IV-chord played as a Middle D-shape just above.

As an example, we can put it in C-major, with C as the I-chord and F as the IV-chord. The barré will then be at 5th fret. You hold the A-shape as a barré, and keep the barré while fretting over.

C F C and F combined

Listen to Dire Strait's Sultans of Swing for just one example where you can hear these chords.

One application of this is in the Chord shuffle. It is also part of The harmonized shuffle

Note that these are closed positions, meaning that you do not play open strings.


We might start with a simple C - F change, which does not require much finger movement, and sounds nice.

C F

A variation that sounds nice in some ballads and maybe some other music as well, is the change from C to Fmaj7, where the Fmaj7 is played as an F-chord with open 1st string. Listen to Donovan's old hit Catch The Wind for a nice example of this change. (He sometimes play C - Fmaj7, and sometimes play C - F -- I leave it to you to find out when he plays the two variations of the F-chord.)

I have made one MIDI-file to illustrate the point. It goes C-Fmaj7-C-F. Listen to the differences between the Fmaj7 and the F.

Fmaj7

Another variation, still in the key of C, is C -Fadd9. (Fadd9 has a 9th, which is G, added. But it is not a 9th chord because it does not contain a 7th. More about 9th chords in the "9 to 5" lesson.) You should then play the C with a G on 1st string, 3rd fret, fingered with your pinky. When changing to Fadd9, you just keep the G on the first string. This chord change was often favored by John Lennon

C Fadd9

In the key of G you have a similar change from G to C, still with the G on 1st string when you play the C chord. You should also try the Gsus4 instead of the C, and listen to the difference.

G C Gsus4

The G chord can be fingered in different ways, and there is no "correct" fingering. What fingering to choose depends on where you are coming from and where you are going. When changing between G and C, as in the previous example, you should use the pinky on the 1st string, ring finger on 6th string and middle finger on 5th string. That leaves the 1st finger for the C on 2nd string.

The progression is closely related to the I-ii progression. The relationship is discussed in the I-ii lesson.

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Previous page: Chord Progressions - The subdominant (IV) chord Next page: Chord Progressions - The Double Message of the I-IV change