A chord progression (or just “progression”) is a sequence of chords played one after another.

If there are just two, it’s called a cadence rather than a progression.

There are particular common chord progressions which are used again and again in popular music, because certain chords work well together to create moods and a satisfying sense of progress in music. This leads to a large number of “3 chord songs” and “4 chord songs”.

Here are a few examples of what is probably the most popular chord progression – The I-V-vi-IV” progression. It should sound familiar, it’s used in thousands of songs!

Can you hear the similarity of musical character, despite the rhythm, key and instrument changing?

Here’s a completely different progression to contrast:

There are endless possible chord progressions so when composing or writing songs don’t be afraid to experiment and explore. Still, popular music often returns to the tried-and-true, and perhaps all you need is “four chords and the truth”!

Learn more on the Chord Progressions topic page.