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Guitar Chord Progression:

i-VIIb-VIb - Half Spanish - Minor

Other Minor progressions

The i - VIIb - VIb progression
"Half Spanish" - "Watchtower progression"

Numerous of rock songs have the progression i-VIIb-VIb. If you play in Am, the chords will be Am-G-F. You can then take the same route back to Am, giving you the following chords: Am-G-F-G-Am.

You might wonder what this has to do with the Spanish border, and it is really not very much. But if you add just one more chord, the E if you start from Am, then you suddenly end up in some Spanish sounding territory. For more about this progression, you should se my "A Touch of Spain" lesson.

One famous example of this progression is Bob Dylan’s "All along the watchtower". Jimi Hendrix made the song into one of the greatest rock guitar classics. (Go here for the Jimi Hendrix version.)

Bob Dylan’s play the progression using open chords in Am. Compare this with Jimi Hendrix' barré chord playing in C#m.

Click here for a recording of the progression, played with open chords (MP3)

You can of course play the progression in other keys. Go to D-minor, and you have the main chords of another rock classic: Eric Clapton’s "Layla". Here the chords are Dm-C-Bb-C-Dm.

You can also hear these chords in the chorus in Dire Strait’s "Sultans of Swing".

I have made some backing tracks. Listen to the chord changes and use them to practise soloing over this progression.

Backing Track - HalfSpanish
A Half Spanish: i-bVII-bVI
65 Very slow Cm C#m Dm Em F#m Gm Am Bm
90 Slow Cm C#m Dm Em F#m Gm Am Bm
120 Medium Cm C#m Dm Em F#m Gm Am Bm

You might also here the progression in reverse order, bVI - bVII - i

Listen to Pink Floyd's Comfortably Numb for another ending to this progression.

Recordings with the i-VIIb-VIb Half Spanish progression - Annotaded

  • Eric Clapton - Layla Unplugged
  • Eric Clapton - Layla Electric
  • Dire Straits - Sultans Of Swing -
  • Bob Dylan - All Along the Watchtower -
  • Electric Light Orchestra - Do Ya -
  • The Goo Goo Dolls - Slide -
  • Jimi Hendrix - All Along The Watchtower -
  • Led Zeppelin - Stairway To Heaven -
  • Ozzy Osbourne - Close My Eyes Forever (Ozzy Osbourne with Lita Ford) -
  • REO Speedwagon - Ridin' The Storm Out -
  • The Strawbs - Lay Down -

  • Books covering the progression -

    Further references:

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