Chord Progressions Ear Training | Easy Ear Training

Chord Progressions Ear Training

Chord Progressions ear training

The progression from one chord to another is the harmonic bedrock of music.

Some genres such as the blues are even defined by their characteristic progressions, while hip-hop, and drum'n'bass are notable for their lack of harmonic movement.

Particular chord changes tend to have characteristic uses, and learning their sounds is very empowering as a musician. For example, a chord change such as the 'perfect cadence' can create a powerful sense of resolution, or in the hands of Richard Wagner can take the listener in unsettling new directions.

Though a musician is free to string together any chords to create their own chord progressions, Western music typically follows particular rules and traditions of harmony that result in the familiar musical sounds we all know instinctively just through regularly listening to music. This means there are some particularly effective ways to organise chords, and a number of classic chord sequences such as the "three chord trick", the "circle of fifths" and the "doo wop progression".

Ear training can help you to recognise chord changes and common chord progressions, allowing you to:

  • Easily transcribe the music you hear
  • Play songs by ear
  • Gain an appreciation for the characteristic progressions that define a genre
  • Be a flexible performer, improvising arrangements by understanding the underlying harmonies
  • Harmonize melodies when song-writing
  • Solo over unfamiliar changes when improvising

Chord Progressions Ear Training

How to do Progressions Ear Training

For details on how to plan your ear training to recognise chord progressions, read the full article "Chord Ear Training How-To: Chord Progressions" which explains the step-by-step process to develop your ear to recognise the most commonly-used chord progressions in music.

Chord Progression Ear Training Resources

3-Chord Songs and the 4-Chord Trick

Thousands upon thousands of songs use the same 3 or 4 chords - knowing about this makes learning to play them by ear much easier!

"3-Chord Songs and the 4-Chord Trick" is your all-in-one guide to these essential chord progressions.

Interactive chord progression ear training

Want to get started learning to recognise chord progressions?

Try the Speaker Chords game from Theta Music Trainer:

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If you've enjoyed this game, we recommend the full Theta Music Trainer.

Theta Music Trainer

Questions about Chord Progressions Ear Training

Articles about Chord Progressions Ear Training:

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Training Your Ears For Chords

Training Your Ears For Chords

Isn’t it magical when someone sits down at the piano or picks up the guitar and seems to know how to play every song by ear? It’s not magic – these musicians have spent some time learning the identify chords and chord progressions. Would like to learn how to do...
Tension and Release: When Scales Meet Chord Progressions

Tension and Release: When Scales Meet Chord Progressions

Melody moves through its harmonic surroundings creating varying degrees of tension and release. As we train our ears to perceive tension and release, we gain deeper appreciation as we listen to music and greater mastery in composing, improvising, and playing by ear....
Tim Topham’s Tools for Creative Teaching

Tim Topham’s Tools for Creative Teaching

  Tim Topham is the piano teachers’ piano teacher. While actively working students, he has turned cherished traditions on their heads and taken his “teach differently” approach to the piano teachers themselves through his piano teaching website. Creativity was...
Rock Improvisation Techniques

Rock Improvisation Techniques

What are the fundamental principles behind rock improvisation? What core concepts do you need to know in order to improvise in a rock style? Where should you look to see rock improv in action and learn from the masters? In this tutorial we’ll explain the...

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