Here are some listening exercises to help you practice recognising the chords in common chord progressions.
You can listen to the tracks on this page or download them to practice with on your computer or mobile device. Just right-click an exercise and choose “Save As” or use the download link at the bottom of each set of exercises ().
- Use the “Training” tracks to listen carefully to each set of chords and tune your ear in to the different sounds.
- Each time, you’ll hear a scale to give you a sense of the key you’re in. Then the progression is announced and played, twice so you know what you’re hearing.
- Listen to the corresponding “Test” tracks, which don’t announce the progression before it’s played.
- During the pause, try to identify the chords you just heard.
- You’ll then hear the correct answer so you know if you got it right and have the chance to hear the progression again.
Get clear on what chord ear training means and how it can help you in your musical life, in “What is chord ear training and what can it do for you”.
The exercises come with three difficulty levels:
- The “easy” exercise uses just root-position triad chords, making it easy to hear the movement of the root up to the fourth, fifth, and sixth degrees of the scale.
- The “medium” exercise introduces different inversions of the chords, which means the notes can change without it actually changing chord in the progression.
- The “hard” exercise doesn’t play a scale before the progression so you have an extra challenge! Note: In the later exercises this means there are multiple valid interpretations of the progression, so you may need to think carefully about whether your answer was right or not!
We recommend practising with each difficulty level in order for the exercises, building up a robust ability to recognise those progressions in varied musical use.
The exercises are provided in a sequence which builds up your knowledge gradually, and uses the distinctive V7 chord as a stepping-stone to recognising the plain V chord.
This sequence will work well for most students—but you should feel free to change the order based on your own progress!
Chord Progression Exercises
1. I, IV
2. I, V7
3. I, IV, V7
For a full set of chord progression exercises, visit Musical U.