• How To Play The Walk-Up Progression In All Twelve Keys

    in Chords & Progressions,Piano,Theory

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    In today’s lesson, you will discover the secret to playing walk up progressions.

    This lesson is for you if:

    • You are interested in learning how to play a walk-up progression
    • You don’t know what walk-up progression is
    • You know what a walk-up progression is, but can’t play it in all 12 keys
    • You have a knowledge of the bass notes, but not familiar with the right hand chords

    Believe it or not, when a walk-up progression is applied to the right chord destination, it adds a lot of momentum to the flow of the song and that’s what so many top players do apply (mostly) in hymns and congregational songs.

    Before we jump right into the today’s lesson, let’s review the walk-up progression.

    “What Is A Walk-Up Progression?”

    Attention: Before we proceed, it’s important for us to define the term root progression.

    A root progression is the movement root notes from one degree of the scale to another.

    A root progression gives a melodic outline of a given chord progression. For example, in a 2-5-1 chord progression in the key of C major:

    …the root progression entails a movement from D:

    …to G:

    …and then to C:

    …and this is basically a melodic outline of the chord progression.

    The Walk-Up Progression – Defined

    A walk-up progression consists of a set of chords progressing between two chords in a given chord progression.

    For example, in the 5-1 chord progression from G to C:

    …in the key of C major:

    …a walk-up progression will entail adding a set of chords in-between the G major chord:

    …and the C major chord:

    The term walk-up is used to describe this progression because of the step-wise movement from G:

    …to A:

    …then to B:

    …and finally to C:

    The goal of the walk-up progression is to create the illusion that there’s a lot of movement going on. In actuality, it’s a progression between two given chords with a set of chords progressing between.

    A Breakdown On The Concept Of The Walk Up Progression

    In a walk-up progression, it’s very important to pay attention to the movement of the bass notes, literally walking up from the 5 to the 1.

    For example, in the key of C:

    …the tonic is C:

    …and the fifth tone is G:

    Therefore, a walk-up from G to C:

    …entails a bass movement from the fifth degree, G:

    …to the sixth degree, A:

    …to the seventh degree, B:

    …and finally to the first degree, C:

    From G to C:

    …using these notes G, A, B, and C:

    “Beyond The Bass Notes, We Have Something Going On In The Right Hand…”

    There are 4 progressions in the walk-up and we’re dissecting them right away.

    Progression #1

    While the bass is playing G:

    …the right hand plays a major triad on the fifth degree, which is G major triad:

    Progression #2

    While the bass plays A:

    …the right hand plays a major triad on the fourth degree, which is F major triad:

    Attention: The bass note here is A, however, the implied harmony is F major:

    …and not the harmony of the sixth degree (which is A minor):

    The bass note (A):

    …is derived from the F major triad:

    Don’t forget that A:

    …is the third chord tone of the F major triad:

    Progression #3

    While the bass plays B:

    …the right hand plays a major triad on the fifth degree, which is G major triad:

    Attention: Although the bass note is B, the chord played is identical to that of progression #1 (the G major triad):

    The bass note (B):

    …is derived from the G major triad:

    Remember that B:

    …is the third chord tone of the G major triad:

    Progression #4

    While the bass plays C:

    …the right hand either plays a major triad on the first degree, which is C major triad:

    …or a minor triad on the first degree, which is C minor triad:

    Attention: The walk-up progression has two possible destinations – to the major chord or to the minor chord. Good news is that you can use the same walk-up chord progression to any of the destinations.

    “Here’s A Quick Glance At The Walk-Up Progression…”

    Progression #1:

    …to progression #2:

    …the progression #3:

    …progression #4 – at this point, you’re to decide your destination, which can either be the C major triad:

    …or the C minor triad:

    “Congratulations!”

    You’ve understood the concept of the walk up progression, and how both hands can be coordinated. At this point, we’ll be transposing it to other keys on the keyboard.

    The Walk-Up Progression In All Twelve Keys

    We’ll be exploring the walk-up progression in all twelve keys, using the circle of fifths (aka – “the music clock”):
    …as a reference.

    Now that you’re already familiar with the walk-up progression in the key of C major (or minor), which is at the 12 o’clock position, let’s continue to F in the counter-clockwise direction.

    In The Key Of F

    The first tone (aka – “tonic’) is F:

    …and the fifth tone is C:

    To walk-up from C to F:

    …the bass moves from the fifth degree, C:

    …to the sixth degree, D:

    …then to the seventh degree, E:

    …and finally to the first degree, F:

    “On The Right Hand…”

    While the bass is playing C:

    …the right hand plays a major triad on the fifth degree, which is C major triad:

    While the bass plays D:

    …the right hand plays a major triad on the fourth degree, which is Bb major triad:

    While the bass plays E:

    …the right hand plays a major triad on the fifth degree, which is C major triad:

    While the bass plays F:

    …the right hand either plays a major triad on the first degree, which is F major triad:

    …or a minor triad on the first degree, which is F minor triad:

    In The Key Of Bb

    The tonic is Bb:

    …the fifth tone is F:

    …to walk-up from F to Bb:

    …the bass moves from the fifth degree, F:

    …to the sixth degree, G:

    …to the seventh degree, A:

    …and finally to the first degree, Bb:

    “On The Right Hand…”

    While the bass is playing F:

    …the right hand plays a major triad on the fifth degree, which is F major triad:

    While the bass plays G:

    …the right hand plays a major triad on the fourth degree, which is Eb major triad:

    While the bass plays A:

    …the right hand plays a major triad on the fifth degree, which is F major triad:

    While the bass plays Bb:

    …the right hand either plays a major triad on the first degree, which is Bb major triad:

    …or a minor triad on the first degree, which is Bb minor triad:

    In The Key Of Eb

    The tonic is Eb:

    …the fifth tone is Bb:

    …to walk-up from Bb to Eb:

    …the bass moves from the fifth degree, Bb:

    …to the sixth degree, C:

    …to the seventh degree, D:

    …and finally to the first degree, Eb:

    “On The Right Hand…”

    While the bass is playing Bb:

    …the right hand plays a major triad on the fifth degree, which is Bb major triad:

    While the bass plays C:

    …the right hand plays a major triad on the fourth degree, which is Ab major triad:

    While the bass plays D:

    …the right hand plays a major triad on the fifth degree, which is Bb major triad:

    While the bass plays Eb:

    …the right hand either plays a major triad on the first degree, which is Eb major triad:

    …or a minor triad on the first degree, which is Eb minor triad:

    In The Key Of Ab

    The tonic is Ab:

    …the fifth tone is Eb:

    …to walk-up from Eb to Ab:

    …the bass moves from the fifth degree, Eb:

    …to the sixth degree, F:

    …to the seventh degree, G:

    …and finally to the first degree, Ab:

    “On The Right Hand…”

    While the bass is playing Eb:

    …the right hand plays a major triad on the fifth degree, which is Eb major triad:

    While the bass plays F:

    …the right hand plays a major triad on the fourth degree, which is Db major triad:

    While the bass plays G:

    …the right hand plays a major triad on the fifth degree, which is Eb major triad:

    While the bass plays Ab:

    …the right hand either plays a major triad on the first degree, which is Ab major triad:

    …or a minor triad on the first degree, which is Ab minor triad:

    In The Key Of Db

    The tonic is Db:

    …the fifth tone is Ab:

    …to walk-up from Ab to Db:

    …the bass moves from the fifth degree, Ab:

    …to the sixth degree, Bb:

    …to the seventh degree, C:

    …and finally to the first degree, Db:

    “On The Right Hand…”

    While the bass is playing Ab:

    …the right hand plays a major triad on the fifth degree, which is Ab major triad:

    While the bass plays Bb:

    …the right hand plays a major triad on the fourth degree, which is Gb major triad:

    While the bass plays C:

    …the right hand plays a major triad on the fifth degree, which is Ab major triad:

    While the bass plays Db:

    …the right hand either plays a major triad on the first degree, which is Db major triad:

    …or a minor triad on the first degree, which is Db minor triad:

    In The Key Of Gb

    The tonic is Gb:

    …the fifth tone is Db:

    …to walk-up from Db to Gb:

    …the bass moves from the fifth degree, Db:

    …to the sixth degree, Eb:

    …to the seventh degree, F:

    …and finally to the first degree, Gb:

    “On The Right Hand…”

    While the bass is playing Db:

    …the right hand plays a major triad on the fifth degree, which is Db major triad:

    While the bass plays Eb:

    …the right hand plays a major triad on the fourth degree, which is Cb major triad:

    While the bass plays F:

    …the right hand plays a major triad on the fifth degree, which is Db major triad:

    While the bass plays Gb:

    …the right hand either plays a major triad on the first degree, which is Gb major triad:

    …or a minor triad on the first degree, which is Gb minor triad (but spelled as the F# minor triad):

    In The Key Of B

    The tonic is B:

    …the fifth tone is F#:

    …to walk-up from F# to B:

    …the bass moves from the fifth degree, F#:

    …to the sixth degree, G#:

    …to the seventh degree, A#:

    …and finally to the first degree, B:

    “On The Right Hand…”

    While the bass is playing F#:

    …the right hand plays a major triad on the fifth degree, which is F# major triad:

    While the bass plays G#:

    …the right hand plays a major triad on the fourth degree, which is E major triad:

    While the bass plays A#:

    …the right hand plays a major triad on the fifth degree, which is F# major triad:

    While the bass plays B:

    …the right hand either plays a major triad on the first degree, which is B major triad:

    …or a minor triad on the first degree, which is B minor triad:

    In The Key Of E

    The tonic is E:

    …the fifth tone is B:

    …to walk-up from B to E:

    …the bass moves from the fifth degree, B:

    …to the sixth degree, C#:

    …to the seventh degree, D#:

    …and finally to the first degree, E:

    “On The Right Hand…”

    While the Bass is playing B:

    …the right hand plays a major triad on the fifth degree, which is B major triad:

    While the Bass plays C#:

    …the right hand plays a major triad on the fourth degree, which is A major triad:

    While the bass plays D#:

    …the right hand plays a major triad on the fifth degree, which is B major triad:

    While the bass plays E:

    …the right hand either plays a major triad on the first degree, which is E major triad:

    …or a minor triad on the first degree, which is E minor triad:

    In The Key Of A

    The tonic is A:

    …the fifth tone is E:

    …to walk-up from E to A:

    …the Bass moves from the fifth degree, E:

    …to the sixth degree, F#:

    …to the seventh degree, G#:

    …and finally to the first degree, A:

    “On The Right Hand…”

    While the bass is playing E:

    …the right hand plays a major triad on the fifth degree, which is E major triad:

    While the bass plays F#:

    …the right hand plays a major triad on the fourth degree, which is D major triad:

    While the bass plays G#:

    …the right hand plays a major triad on the fifth degree, which is E major triad:

    While the bass plays A:

    …the right hand either plays a major triad on the first degree, which is A major triad:

    …or a minor triad on the first degree, which is A minor triad:

    In The Key Of D

    The tonic is D:

    …the fifth tone is A:

    …to walk-up from A to D:

    …the bass moves from the fifth degree, A:

    …to the sixth degree, B:

    …to the seventh degree, C#:

    …and finally to the first degree, D:

    “On The Right Hand…”

    While the bass is playing A:

    …the right hand plays a major triad on the fifth degree, which is A major triad:

    While the bass plays B:

    …the right hand plays a major triad on the fourth degree, which is G major triad:

    While the bass plays C#:

    …the right hand plays a major triad on the fifth degree, which is A major triad:

    While the bass plays D:

    …the right hand either plays a major triad on the first degree, which is D major triad:

    …or a minor triad on the first degree, which is D minor triad:

    In The Key Of G

    The tonic is G:

    …the fifth tone is D:

    …to walk-up from D to G:

    …the bass moves from the fifth degree, D:

    …to the sixth degree, E:

    …to the seventh degree, F#:

    …and finally to the first degree, G:

    “On The Right Hand…”

    While the bass is playing D:

    …the right hand plays a major triad on the fifth degree, which is D major triad:

    While the bass plays E:

    …the right hand plays a major triad on the fourth degree, which is C major triad:

    While the bass plays F#:

    …the right hand plays a major triad on the fifth degree, which is D major triad:

    While the bass plays G:

    …the right hand either plays a major triad on the first degree, which is G major triad:

    …or a minor triad on the first degree, which is G minor triad:

    The Application Of The Walk-Up Progression In Gospel Songs

    We’ll be covering a few examples of the application of the walk-up progression using gospel songs and hymn tunes you’re familiar with, and approaching a variety of chords as well.

    “Have Fun…”

    Attention: All the examples are in the key of C major.

    Example #1 – “What A Friend We Have In Jesus”

    The walk-up progression here is from chord 1 to chord 4 – from the C major triad:

    …to the F major triad:

    Our destination in this case is the F major triad. Although we’re in the key of C major:

    …we can apply the walk-up progression in the key of F major:

    However, it is important to ensure for the destination chord to remain the F major triad.

    “Here You Are…”

    What a friend we:

    …have:

    …in:

    …Je-sus:

    Example #2 – “All Hail The Power Of Jesus’ Name”

    The walk-up progression in this example is from chord 2 to chord 5 – from the D major triad:

    …to the G major triad:

    Our destination in this case is the G major triad. Although we’re in the key of C major:

    …we can apply the walk-up progression in the key of G major:

    However, it is important to ensure for the destination chord to remain the G major triad.

    “Here You Are…”

    And crown him, Lo:

    …ord:

    …of

    …Lords:

    Example #3 – “Great Is Your Mercies”

    The walk-up progression here is from chord 6 to chord 2 – from the A major triad:

    …to the D minor triad:

    Our destination in this case is the D minor triad. Although we’re in the key of C major:

    …we can apply the walk-up progression in the key of D minor:

    However, it is important to ensure for the destination chord to remain the D minor triad.

    “Here You Are…”

    Great:

    …is:

    …your:

    …mer:

    …cies:

    Example #4 – Oh! How I Love Jesus”

    The walk-up progression here is from chord 5 to chord 1 – from the G major triad:

    …to the C major triad:

    “Here You Are…”

    Oh! how I love Je-sus,

    Oh! how:

    …I:

    …love:

    …Je:

    …sus:

    Final Words

    Always remember that the 5 – 1 walk-up progression we just learned can take you either to a major or minor chord destination.

    You can do a walk-up to any degree of the scale, and you can accomplish this by doing a 5 – 1 walk-up progression in the key of that scale degree.

    In subsequent lessons we will look at how to approach the walk-up progression using the dominant seventh and diminished seventh chords.

    See you then!

    The following two tabs change content below.
    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 the head of education, music consultant, and chief content creator with HearandPlay Music Group sharing my wealth of knowledge with hundreds of thousands of musicians across the world.

    Attention: To learn more about this, I recommend our 500+ page course: The "Official Guide To Piano Playing." Click here for more information.




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    { 2 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Richard Blocher

    I always wondered, how they do the walk-up in Gospel Music, I just found out how, today. I wanted to say thank you for sharing this valued information. Now, I will need to practice this, until I am comfortable with. Thank you all at Hear and Play. I really appreciate everyone. God Bless. Dick Blocher

    Reply

    2 essien

    this is equivalent to the classic 1-4 progression

    Reply

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