• Revealed: The Magic Number In Root Progressions

    in Beginners,Chords & Progressions,Experienced players,General Music,Piano,Playing songs,Theory

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    You arrived this page because you want to find out the magic number in root progressions.

    I guarantee you that if you find out this magic number and how it is applied, it will revolutionize your knowledge of root progressions and transform your playing overnight.

    Right before we get into all that we’re covering in today’s lesson, let’s take a look at root progressions.

    A Review On Root Progressions

    Every chord, irrespective of certain factors like quality, width, and so on, has a note that it is derived from. That note is called its root note.

    A chord is usually named after its root note. For example, the triad below:

    …is derived from C:

    …therefore its root note is C. Although the C major triad consists of C, E and G, it is called the C major triad and this is because C is the root of the chord.

    The root of the D minor seventh chord:

    …is D:

    The root note of the E major triad:

    …is E:

    The root note of the C# diminished seventh chord:

    …is C#:

    The root note of the G major seventh chord:

    …is G:

    “What Is A Root Progression?”

    A root progression is a product of the movement from one root note to another. Root progressions are basically an outline of the movement of the lowest notes in a chord progression.

    In the key of C major:

    …a chord progression from the C major triad:

    …to the D minor triad:

    …with C:

    …and D:

    …on the bass, produces a C-D root progression. Due to the fact that C and D:

    …are the first and second tones of the C major scale:

    …a C-D root progression is usually represented as a 1-2 root progression.

    Always remember that in root progressions, the focus is on the root notes and not the overall harmony, and that’s why I said earlier that root progressions are an outline of the root notes in a given chord progression.

    The Strongest Root Progressions

    Within the environment of key (aka – “tonality”), root progressions can move from one root note to another. For example, in the key of C major:

    …a root progression can move from C (which is the first tone):

    …to E (which is the third tone):

    …and then to D (which is the second tone):

    However, the strongest root progressions in tonal music (music that is played in a given key – whether major or minor), are root progressions that descend by a fifth.

    Still in the key of C major:

    …although the note C:

    …can progress to any other note in the key, the strongest root progression from C:

    …is to F:

    …which is a fifth below C.

    “Why Does A Descent In Fifths Produce The Strongest Root Progressions?”

    In every key (whether major or minor), the most important tone is the first tone (aka – “the tonic”) and the next to it in importance is the fifth tone (aka – “the dominant”.)

    In the key of C:

    …the tonic and dominant are C:

    …and G:

    …respectively.

    The strongest root progression within the environment of a key is from the dominant to the tonic. In the key of C major:

    …its a root progression from G (the dominant):

    …to C (the tonic):

    The movement from the dominant to the tonic is the strongest root progression because of the sense of finality it has. This explains why most songs end with a 5-1 root progression.

    Submission: Although there are other strong progressions in the key, the strongest is in fifths.

    The Magic Number In Root Progressions

    The magic number in root progressions is “FIVE.”

    At this point, I don’t need to remind you that the term dominant is synonymous with five. The chord progression from the dominant chord to the tonic chord is a model for all strong root progressions.

    “Let’s Quickly Explore The Magic Number (5)…”

    In the key of C major:

    …the strongest root progression from a given note can be determined by applying the magic number.

    A fifth above C:

    …is G:

    A fifth above D:

    …is A:

    A fifth above E:

    …is B:

    A fifth above F:

    …is C:

    A fifth above G:

    …is D:

    A fifth above A:

    …is E:

    From what we’ve covered, the strongest root progression any degree of the scale is a fifth above it. Let’s expound on this.

    “Here Are The Strongest Root Progression To All The Degrees Of The Scale…”

    “To The First Degree…”

    The strongest root progression to the first tone of the scale is from the fifth tone. This gives a 5-1 root progression. In the key of C, that’s a G:

    …to C:

    …root progression.

    “To The Second Degree…”

    The strongest root progression to the second tone of the scale is from the sixth tone. This gives a 6-2 root progression. In the key of C, that’s an A:

    …to D:

    …root progression.

    “To The Third Degree…”

    The strongest root progression to the third tone of the scale is from the seventh tone. This gives a 7-3 root progression. In the key of C, that’s a B:

    …to E:

    …root progression.

    “To The Fourth Degree…”

    The strongest root progression to the fourth tone of the scale is from the first tone. This gives a 1-4 root progression. In the key of C, that’s a C:

    …to F:

    …root progression.

    “To The Fifth Degree…”

    The strongest root progression to the fifth tone of the scale is from the second tone. This gives a 2-5 root progression. In the key of C, that’s a D:

    …to G:

    …root progression.

    “To The Sixth Degree…”

    The strongest root progression to the sixth tone of the scale is from the third tone. This gives a 3-6 root progression. In the key of C, that’s an E:

    …to A:

    …root progression.

    Final Words

    I’m sure that your knowledge of the “magic number” can help you create the strongest root progressions. I’ll see you in another lesson where we’ll further our discussion on root progressions.

    Thank you for your time.

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    Hello, I'm Chuku Onyemachi (aka - "Dr. Pokey") - a musicologist, pianist, author, clinician and Nigerian. Inspired by my role model Jermaine Griggs, I started teaching musicians in my neighborhood in April 2005. Today, I'm privileged to work as a music consultant and content creator with HearandPlay Music Group sharing my wealth of knowledge with thousands of musicians across the world.

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    { 2 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Esther

    Checking out the note progressions, is challenging.
    Carol

    Reply

    2 Chuku Onyemachi

    May I know what it is you’re finding challenging please.

    Thank you

    Reply

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