5 Common Chord Progressions

As I’m sure you’ve realized as we near the end of Lesson 10, we’re slowly (though not subtly) working our way towards being songwriters (if you choose to!), not just guitar players. We’re learning the building blocks that make up a song, and we’re learning the concepts and guidelines that go along with those individual components. Once you get more advanced, you’re more than welcome to explore your artistic vision beyond the confines of these silly parameters, but as the saying goes, you’ve got to know the rules before you can break them!

We’re going to go over five common chord progressions. You’ll probably be able to recognize them in popular songs you’re already familiar with, so it’s a good ear training exercise to familiarize yourself with them. They can also provide you with a good starting point for songwriting. They’ll help you recognize the movement of chords and which chords work well together.

The Key of C… Again

As always, the key is, well, key. In the key of C, you’ve got these chords:

C, Dm, Em, F, G, Am

These chord progressions work in numbers, though. They assign a number to each chord in the sequence. This way, you can use the same pattern in various keys, just reassigning each number to a chord in the key you’re playing in.

In the key of C, it looks like this:

  • 1 = C
  • 2 = Dm
  • 3 = Em
  • 4 = F
  • 5 = G
  • 6 = Am

*Note: 7 would be Bdim, but we won’t worry about that one for now. It’s sort of the oddball in the bunch.

The Chord Progressions

  • 1-5-6-4
    • C, G, Am, F
  • 6-4-1-5
    • Am, F, C, G
  • 1-4-5-4
    • C, F, G, F
  • 1-6-4-5
    • C, Am, F, G
  • 2-5-1-6
    • Dm, G, C, Am

Let's Do It

Now go explore these progressions and see how they sound to you.

Can you recognise a song in any of them? Let me know in the comments and maybe I'll add some in!


Lesson 10: Weak G Bamba