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Guitar Chord Progression:

iii - Mediant - Chord

Other Chord progressions

The iii-chord is our third secondary chord. The third note is called the mediant, which means the chord in the middle (almost ...) between the tonic and the dominant, and the diatonic chord built on this note is the mediant chord.

The iii-chord does not have as clearly defined function as the vi or the ii chords. If we look at it from a chord substitution perspective, it might substitute the I or the V chord. In the key of C-major, the iii-chord is Em. C has the notes C-E-G, while Em has E-G-B. The V-chord, G, has G-B-D. From what we discussed in the lesson on the vi-chord, the Em will mainly substitute G (V), but in a minor context it is more likely to be substituted by C. You might have noticed that the iii-chord is the relative minor to the V-chord, and the ii-chord is the relative minor to the IV chord. A nice example of a song where iii substitutes I is The Beatles There's A Place. At the beginning of the bridge, "And it's my mind ..." the melody is first sung over iii-IV chords (G#m-A), and then the same melody is repeated in the next bars, but now over the I-IV chords (E-A).

But as the I and V chords are the ones that really defines the key (go to the theory lessons on Authentic Cadence and the Dominant V7 chord for a discussion of this), they are the chords that we are least likely to substitute. The chord will often be used to add some color. The most famous song with a prominent use of this chord it The Beatles' She Loves You. It is in the key of G-major, and the each line in the verse has these chords: G - Em(7) - Bm - D7, which in generic terms is I - vi(7) - iii - V7. Note that it goes from tonic (root) to it's relative minor, then to the relative minor of the dominant before going to the dominant. You might also use the chord as a passing chord when going from tonic to dominant or vice versa. But it tends to weaken the relationship between the I and V chord, and it does not always sound good to my ears.

You might also hear the chord in a chord-stream context, which will be discussed a little bit later.

If you have not already crossed over to the Theory series, I think you should do it now and read about The Harmonized Scale.

Go here for a list of song with theiii-chord.

Recordings with the iii Mediant progression - Annotaded

  • The Beatles - Can't Buy Me Love -
  • The Beatles - I feel fine -
  • The Beatles - It's Only Love -
  • The Beatles - She loves you -
  • The Beatles - She's A Woman -
  • The Beatles - There's a Place -

  • Books covering the progression -

    Further references:

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