I - IV - V and I - IV - V7 progressions
The I - IV - V progression is the most common of all chord progressions. It's used in heaps of songs, either as the complete progressions or as a part of it. The I - IV - V is sooner or later prolonged to I - IV - V - I which include the “home chord” since the V built tension that wants to resolved in the I chord.
The first (I), the fourth (IV) and the fifth (V) is sometimes called principal chords and are built from the Major scale. If extracted from the C Major scale, the chords would be C, F and G.
The last part (V - I) is also called a perfect cadence (a cadence is an old term that refers to a sequence of chords that ends a phrase or section a music piece).
Notice also that a fourth (IV) and a fifth (V) makes an octave (I to I including two octaves). This harmonic relationship was discovered already by the Pythagoreans.
So, to translate the Roman numerals to “real” chords, here are some examples:
I - IV - V = D - G - A
I - IV - V7 = D - G - A7 (V chord as dominant)
I - IV - V - I = D - G - A - D (returning to "home")
These chords can be seen in the Bob Dylan song “Mr Tambourine Man”:
The first verse starts with I - IV - V:
D [intro] (G)Hey! Mr. (A)Tambourine Man, (D)play a song for (G)me
… and concludes with I - IV - V - I:
In the (D)jingle jangle (G)morning I'll come (A)following (D)you.
The chords: D, G, A
I - IV - V progressions in all keys
The progression and how it's played in all musical keys:
I - IV - V7 progressions in all keys
The progression with a dominant 7th as the V chord in all keys:
I - IV - V7 progression with substitutions
The progressions must not include ordinary major and dominant 7th chords. The chords in it can be substituted in many ways. Some examples of this:
C - Fmaj7 - G9
E - Amaj7 - B7
Amaj7 - Dmaj9 - E13
D - Dsus4 - C - F
G - Csus4 - D7
I - IV - V7 progression with replacements
The substitution can also involve changing chord all together. The IV can be replaced with ii and the I can be replaced with vi, which in both cases are the relative minor. Some examples of this:
C - Dm - G
G - Am - D
Am - F - G
When I is replaced with vi, it's normally not done in the end of a verse or a chorus (if the song is in the same key as the I chord).
Other ideas for "spicing up" I - IV - V
Transitional chords can be put inside the progression:
C - Am - F - G
G - Em - C - D
In addition, other options such as bass lines can be added:
C - C/E - F - G
G - G/B - C - D
For more information about I - IV - V and other progressions, see the 500 Guitar Chord Progressions ebook. It will give you a deeper insight about how chord progressions can be constructed.
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