Harmony Progressions

There is so much to learn about music! Ever wonder what should you study first? Do you know tritones, substitutions, left hand chords, upper structures, tertial chords, fourths, fifths, two hand voicings, left hand voicings, and suspensions? There are two things you should learn first and then after that go and explore!

1. First learn the four basic seventh chords:

Major seventh /major 6 1, 3,5,7 1,3,5,6

Minor seventh 1, b3, 5, b7

Dominant seventh 1, 3,5,b7

Diminished 1, b3, b5, bb7

Minor seventh b5

Learn how to form these. Play them in every key and in every inversion. Knowing them is not enough. You need to be able to apply them in a song content, in every key, ballads and fast songs.

The second thing you need to learn:

2. How the above chords work in the context of a key.

Traditional Harmony

I= major 7 or major6
II- minor 7
III= minor 7
IV= major 7
VII= minor7b5

Jazz Harmony

Is the same as above but the
VI=dominant 7 very often but not always.

Blues Harmony

I=Dominant 7
II=Dominant 7
IV= Dominant7
VII= V7 same as chord as you would use on the five so its a slash chord

Gospel Harmony

Combines the above three harmonic structures.

I= major7 major 6 or dominant 7
II= minor 7 or dominant 7 or minor 7 b5
III= dominant7#5 or minor 7 or dom7#5#9
IV=major7 or dominant7
Vi minor7 or dominant 7 or dom7#5#9
VII= V/Vii or Minor7b5 or diminished or dom7b5

Which quality you use depends on the song.

For a down home, church quality, backwater style, you use more of the dominants on the I, IV and V chords

For ballads and hymns, you use major 7 or major 6 or triads with doubled roots and an added 9

On the I and Iv chords, the II will sometimes be played as a dominant or a minor depending on how you wish to interpret the song.

Altering and playing with the III and the VI will give you very nice sounds and will determine your sound by what you prefer to play on these chord stations.

Finally, I would practice the above formulas using the
7,3,6,2,5,1,4 chord progression.


Start on the one chord then play the 7 chord followed by the 3 chord.


Play them the best way you know. You may have to jump around at first. That’s o.k. to start with but you should learn how to voice lead them. Any good theory book will teach you about voice leading.

I recommend “The Contemporary Keyboardist” by John Novello and he just came out with a book for beginners. It’s cheaper and you will be able to dig in right away.

Look inside this title
The Contemporary Keyboardist for Beginners - sheet music at www.sheetmusicplus.com
The Contemporary Keyboardist for Beginners By John Novello. Keyboard instruction. Softcover with CD. 104 pages. Published by Hal Leonard. (310967)
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