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Guitar Chord Progression:

I-ii - - Major

Other Major progressions

When I think of this progression, The Beatles Don't Let Me Down always comes to my mind. It is in the key of E-major, and is mainly built over the two chords E and F#m (a few A and B7 chords pops up as well). Another example is the verse (?) of The Beatles P.S. I Love You. The song is in D-major, and the verse opens with the sequence D-Em-D. But from there on, there are other chords.

The I-ii progression might have been classified as a Chord stream, but as it would have been a very short stream, I reserve this label for the next lesson.

As we saw in the lesson on the ii-chord, this chord is closely related to the IV-chord. The ii is the relative minor to the IV. If we are in the key of C, then ii=Dm and IV=F. If we compare the chords, we see that they have two out of the three notes in common. A Dm has the notes D-F-A, while the F has F-A-C. One can often substitute the ii chord with the IV chord and vice versa.

If we extend the chords, we can see even closer relations. A Dm7 has the notes D-F-A-C, and the F6 has the notes F-A-C-D. It is not really possible to say in general if a chord with the notes F-A-C-D is a F6 or Dm7 in first inversion. It depends on the context. Just to illustrate: In The Beatles Complete Scores [US] [Europe] the opening of the song The Fool On The Hill is notated with D6 and Em7, while Alan W. Pollack notate the same chords as D and G6. As Em7 and G6 consists of the same notes, there is no right or wrong here.

Why am I saying all this? The point is that it is not easy to distinguish between a I-IV and a I-ii progression. With triads, it is clear. But it get blurred if the second chord is a ii7 of IV6 chord. You should know the relation between the two progressions and compare them.

Recordings with the I-ii progression - Annotaded

  • The Beatles - Don't Let Me Down -
  • The Beatles - The Fool on the Hill -
  • The Beatles - I'll Cry Instead -
  • Eric Clapton - Promises -
  • The Eagles - The Best Of My Love -
  • Young Rascals - Groovin' -
  • The Zutons - Valerie -

  • Books covering the progression -

    Further references:

    Learn to Play: Valerie
    Total Guitar 2008 - 171 2008-01

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