Popular Progressions

Popular Progressions

Apply your chord recognition skills to real music, recognising the I-IV-V chords and playing 3-chord songs by ear with the Popular Progressions training album.

After completing this module: you will be able to recognise 3-chord (I-IV-V) progressions in real music.

Based on the highly popular Popular Progressions ear training album from the Unravelling Music series, this module provides 5 specially-composed music tracks which demonstrate how I-IV-V chord progressions are used in real music. With these 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.

The “Popular Progressions” album in this training module will teach you to hear and recognise the most common chord progressions (those featuring the I, IV and V chords). Then you can play the chords by ear or improvise great solos over them on your instrument.

From the southern rock of “Home Grits” to the classic 12- bar blues of “Baby Blues” and classical waltz “Beautiful World”, these tracks will get your ear used to I, IV, V progressions in all their common forms.

Once you’ve trained with this album you’ll start hearing these popular progressions everywhere in music!

Module Preview

How It Works

The Popular Progressions module uses the simple 3-step Unravelling Music method:

Step 1: Listen to real music tracks

and read some short and simple explanations of the musical concepts in each.

Step 2: Listen to special extract clips

which demonstrate what you should be listening for in each one.

Step 3: Listen again to the music tracks

and begin to hear more, and understand what you’re hearing.

Once you understand what each track teaches, you simply listen to these tracks from time to time to reinforce the listening skills.

It’s a bit like having a personal ear training tutor sit down with you and pick apart one of your favourite songs: helping you to listen in for the important parts, and understand what’s going on musically.


Here’s an example for tuning in to the piano chord progression at the beginning of “Summer School Rock”:

Step 1: Listen to the track.

Step 2: Listen to the excerpt tracks.

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

Here’s the second excerpt clip for this track and the explanation for how the progression is played in the piano part:

Listen to the classic 1950s rock-n-roll piano chord progression:
in this “rock style” piano part.

The right hand adds in closed chords in a repetitive eighth note rhythm that repeats over the walking bass line from Excerpt 1.

Try to hear how the same chord progression is expressed by this piano part.

Step 3: Now listen to the track again.

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

Could you hear the piano progression?

That’s just one example from one track.

The full training module includes:

  • 5 Specially-Composed Music Tracks
    demonstrating common I-IV-V progressions in popular musical styles.
  • 27 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

“I was familiar with I-IV-V chord progressions from trying a different play-by-ear method. I started to learn the fourths and fifths of each key but soon got frustrated because I didn’t have anything to relate it to. I was just rote learning and it didn’t stick in my mind.

With this album, everything seemed to click! I started to recognize patterns in my favorite songs and even the soundtrack to some video games that I own.”

“The tracks are STELLAR for the intended learning purpose. Enough complexity to have you listening for this or that, but simple enough to be accessible and to feel the sense of accomplishment, of “getting it.””

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