Classic Chords

Apply your chord recognition skills to real music, recognising the I, IV, V and vi (six minor) chord and learn to play four-chord songs by ear with the Classic Chords training album.

After completing this module: you will be able to recognise 4-chord (I-IV-V-vi) progressions in real music.

With the Unravelling Music albums you learn to hear more in music, just by listening to music.

Whether you play chords on your instrument or not, having a strong knowledge of common chord progressions and the ability to identify them by ear are powerful skills for any musician to have.

Building on the 3-chord patterns taught in the “Popular Progressions” module, this training module will teach you to hear and recognise the most popular chord progressions—those featuring the I, IV, V and vi chords—by ear.

Through listening to the pop piano of “Elton’s Journey”, new take on a classical style “Carribbean Canon”, modern dance track “Lady Robotika”, upbeat reggae “Ska-Ha” and the bluesy rock of “Pink Slips and Baby Shoes”, you will learn to recognise I, IV, V, vi progressions in a variety of forms.

As you practice with this album you’ll notice you can recognise these classic chord progressions in the music you hear every day!

Module Preview

How It Works

The purpose of this module is to help you to hear chord progressions in real music so that you can play songs by ear or create your own improvisations and solos.

Since most modern pop and rock songs are based on the I, IV, V and vi chords, the tracks on “Classic Chords” use these four chords only—but across a variety of instruments, keys, musical styles, arrangements, and progressions. One even transforms these chords into a minor key to stretch your ears even further.

This will help you to build a robust and versatile ability to recognise these chords in use in the music you hear all around you.

The basic process for training with the album is this:

Step 1: Listen to the 5 full music tracks.

Step 2: Listen to the corresponding example tracks, read the explanations, and learn the chord progressions being used.

Step 3: Listen again to the full music tracks and hear the progressions in their real musical context.


Here’s an example for recognising a I-V-vi-IV progression, taken from Track 1, “Elton’s Journey”:

Step 1: Listen to the track.

Listen to the beginning of “Elton’s Journey”:

Step 2: Listen to the excerpt tracks.

As you listen, read the explanations of what you’re hearing.

Here’s the first excerpt clip and liner notes for Elton’s Journey showing how you can follow the progression in the bass line of the piano part:

Use your ears to hear the piano bass line playing the I-V-vi-IV progression (D-A-Bm-G).

Unlike in Lady Robotika where the root note is simply repeated, there are some changes in rhythm and pitches while the chord progression remains the same.

Use your ears to hum or play the bass line. Practice with the example clip, then try to hum or play along through the first half of the song.

Step 3: Now listen to the track again.

You’ll find you hear and understand much more than you did before!

Could you follow the chord progression?

That’s just one example from one track.

The full training module includes:

  • 5 Specially-Composed Music Tracks
    demonstrating common four-chord progressions in popular musical styles.
  • 25 Excerpt Clips
    which teach you what to listen for in each track.
  • Full notes on every track, including:
    • Progression reference charts for each song
    • Detailed notes explaining each excerpt for each track
    • Glossary explaining the important musical terms
  • Full Learning Guide walkthrough on how to train with this module
  • 5 Looping Vamp Tracks for improvisation practice
    Because so many musicians are interested in chord progressions to jam with them and improvise over the chords, the module includes a “vamp track” for each of the 5 songs. Put these on loop and practice over them to really reinforce your understanding of the progression and build your ability to improvise effectively by ear.

Member Success

“The track notes were clear and concise, giving valuable information about each track and their variations from one another. Reading the notes and listening to the excerpt clips helped me hear the chord progressions in the main music tracks and connect the progressions to real music.”
“What I liked most about the Classic Chords album was the relationship between the written explanation and the audio examples. Extremely helpful.

This is a must do – it has “opened” my ears!”

“All the tracks are pleasant. I like the Caribbean Canon best.

This module has been very helpful. I am beginning to hear chord vi in music I listen to.”

Join Musical U

Musical U membership provides you with over 40 training modules, a friendly and supportive community, and access to expert help, to ensure you succeed.

Get instant access to Classic Chords (worth $30) and over 40 other training modules when you join now:

Membership starts at just $29.95/month. There's no minimum commitment and you can cancel at any time.