• Who Else Wants To Stop Playing Regular Turnaround Progressions?

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    You can stop playing the regular turnaround progressions and start playing an interesting turnaround progression.

    Everybody is already familiar with the turnaround progression and somehow, a lot of listeners expect it to come at the end of a song or between two sections of a song.

    Before we go any further, let’s refresh our minds on the turnaround progression

    A Short Note On The Turnaround Progression

    A classic example of a turnaround progression is the harmonic movement from the 1-chord to the 6-chord, to the 2-chord, then to the 5-chord.

    The turnaround progression ends on the 1-chord because that is where a lot of songs start from. A lot of folk songs, nursery rhymes,  hymns, anthems, congregational songs, etc., all start from the 1-chord.

    So, at the end of a song, the turnaround progression takes us back to the very beginning of the song or help us connect two sections of a song.

    In the key of C major:

    …a song is most likely to start and end on the one chord and I want you to take a moment to think about songs you know and I bet you that the first three songs you’ll come up with (at least) will start and end on the 1-chord.

    The 1-chord in the key of C major:

    …is the C major chord:

    Now,  the 1-chord that ends a song is the beginning of the turnaround progression that literally turn us around from the ending to the beginning.

    “Here Are The Chords…”

    The 1-chord:

    The 6-chord:

    The 2-chord:

    The 5-chord:

    That is the turnaround progression.

     The 4-3-2-5-1 Turnaround Progression

    Instead of playing the 6-2-5-1 chord progression, you can spice up your arrangements with a 4-3-2-5-1 chord progression.

    Here are the chords:





    It’s simple and it sounds very interesting as well because instead of commencing on the 1-chord and progressing to the 6-chord, we are ending the song on the 4-chord and then heading back to the 1-chord through the 3-chord, 2-chord, and 5-chord.

    Let me show you how this works.

    In the gospel song As The Deer the section of the song that says “Thee” usually takes us back to the part that says “As the Deer”.

    So it goes:

    Thee (1-chord):


    …-ee (2-chord):


    …and then it goes to another section of the song or back to the beginning of the song.

    But instead of the regular 6-2-5-1 chord progression, we can play the 4-3-2-5-1 chord progression, which replaces the 4-chord with the 1-chord.

    Instead of playing the 1-chord on “Thee” we play the 4-chord and here’s how it works:

    Thee (4-chord):


    …-ee (2-chord):


    …and I’m sure you can see how exotic that sounds, especially the substitution of the 1-chord with the 4-chord.

    Final Words

    This variant of the turnaround progression sounds like the Amen cadence in classical music where the 4-chord progresses to the 1-chord.

    The only thing is that in between the 4-chord and the 1-chord, we are playing the 3-chord, the 2-chord, and the 5-chord.

    So, you can also think of it as a combination of the Amen cadence and the turnaround progression and in a subsequent lesson, we’ll analyze the relationship between the two concepts as it relates to the 4-3-2-5-1 chord progression.

    Special appreciation to my mentor and role-model, Jermaine A. Griggs, for the opportunity to share this concept with you and I do hope that you’ve learned something.

    See you in the next lesson.

    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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