• Here’s The Chord Progression Every Church Musician Must Not Be Without, And Why

    in Chords & Progressions,Experienced players,General Music,Gospel music,Piano,Playing By Ear,Playing songs

    If you’re interested in learning the chord progression every church musician must not be without, then this lesson is for you.

    Have you ever wondered why Storm Is Over and My Life Is Available To You share the same 1-4-5 chord progression? It is no longer a secret that a particular chord progression can be used to play tons of songs – all experienced musicians will tell you this.

    If you give me your undivided attention, in the next 15 minutes or so, you’ll be learning a chord progression that is commonly used in gospel songs – especially in songs that are classified as worship songs.

    A Short Breakdown Of The Term Chord Progression

    The harmonic movement from one chord to another creates a chord progression.

    In any given key (be it a major or minor key), there are eight degrees. Using the key of C major:

    …as a reference, we have:

    C as the first degree (aka – “the tonic”)

    D as the second degree (aka – “the supertonic”)

    E as the third degree (aka – “the mediant”)

    F as the fourth degree (aka – “the subdominant”)

    G as the fifth degree (aka – “the dominant”)

    A as the sixth degree (aka – “the submediant”)

    B as the seventh degree (aka – “the subtonic”)

    C as the eighth degree (aka – “the octave”)

    The movement of chords from one degree of the scale in a given key to another creates a chord progression.

    Although there are various classes and types of chord progressions:

    • Chromatic and diatonic chord progressions
    • Cyclical and non-cyclical chord progressions

    …and so on, we’re focusing on one of the long-established chord progressions that have taken a common place in worship songs.

    “What Is A Cyclical Progression?”

    Attention: Due to the fact that the chord progression you’re about to learn is a cyclical chord progression, we’ll invest a few minutes into the review of cyclical progressions.

    In chord progressions, Chord 1 can move to any scale degree chord ranging from chord 2 to chord 7 in an unpredictable manner.

    Cyclical chord progressions are predictable chord progressions where the root of a chord moves in a certain interval.

    In music, the strongest movement between chords is in fifths and fourths. Chord progressions that are based on root movements in fourths and fifths are called cyclical progressions and this is because they move in a cycle using the same interval.

    Fourth Vs Fifth

    Attention: Fourth or fifth here has a lot to do with direction. Cyclical progressions ascend in fourths and descend in fifths. Using the chart below:
    C to G can be a fifth or fourth.

    “Here’s how…”


    ..to G:

    …in the ascending direction is a fifth, encompassing C to G:

    …five degrees of the scale.



    ..to G:

    …in the descending direction is a fourth, encompassing C to G:

    …four degrees of the scale.

    Due to the relationship between fourths and fifths, I’ll recommend that you follow the arrangement of notes in the circle of fifths in a counter clock-wise manner while playing cyclical progressions.

    If you follow the circle of fifths/fourths chat in a counter clockwise manner as recommended, you’ll certainly find yourself in notes that are foreign to the key that we’re in.

    Starting from C, if we follow the circle:
    …we’ll have…







    …which are are foreign notes to the C major scale:

    …save F. Therefore, instead of these foreign notes, we’ll rather have the notes of the C major scale arranged in fourths.

    C to F:

    F to B:

    …instead of the regular Bb on the chart.

    B to E:

    …instead of the regular Eb on the chart.

    E to A:

    …instead of the regular Ab on the chart.

    A to D:

    …instead of the regular Db on the chart.

    D to G:

    …instead of the regular Gb on the chart.

    G to C:

    …instead of the regular Cb on the chart.
    Put together, here’s the C major scale in fourths:



















    In the next segment, we’ll be putting the chords of these scale degrees together to have a chord progression that is commonly used in worship songs.

    The Chord Progression Every Church Musician Must Not Be Without

    We’ll be learning this chord progression in the key of C major:

    “Check It Out…”

    Chord 4:

    …the F major seventh chord.

    Chord 7:

    …the B altered chord.

    Chord 3:

    …the E minor seventh chord.

    Chord 6:

    …the A minor seventh chord.

    Chord 2:

    …the D minor seventh chord.

    Chord 5:

    …the G dominant ninth suspended fourth chord.

    Chord 1:

    …C major seventh chord.

    Final Words

    In a subsequent post, we’ll be exploring variations of this chord progression. I’ll kindly advice that from now till then, you transpose this progression to other eleven major keys on the keyboard.

    Thank you for your time and see you in another lesson.

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    Onyemachi "Onye" Chuku is a Nigerian musicologist, pianist, and author. Inspired by his role model (Jermaine Griggs) who has become his mentor, what he started off as teaching musicians in his Aba-Nigeria neighborhood in April 2005 eventually morphed into an international career that has helped hundreds of thousands of musicians all around the world. Onye lives in Dubai and is currently the Head of Education at HearandPlay Music Group and the music consultant of the Gospel Music Training Center, all in California, USA.

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