The Most Common Chord Progressions

The Most Common Chord Progressions

The Most Common Chord Progressions

The number of chord progressions you can create is virtually endless. However, there are certain ones that keep popping up over and over.

That’s because they sound great and lend themselves to catchy melody writing.

Let’s take a look at a few that have stood the test of time.


11 Common Chord Progressions

The Most Common Chord Progressions

What would you like to know more about? Please let me know in the comments.


  1. Wavatar
    Dave McG

    Nice chart, Neil. These have come in handy for SO many writers. This reminds me, what was the “sensitive female chord progression” I heard about recently? Is that one of these?

    • Neil

      Haha, I think that must be the second one, “What if God Were One of Us”. The funny thing is that Prince originally wrote that tune, so I don’t know how that works. Thanks so much for the comment Dave.

  2. Wavatar
    Karl aranjo

    Like a filling stone could be interpreted as
    I IV I IV V except that the bass line is an ascending scale
    C F/D C/ E F G. In old time songbooks they usually have it written as C F G the whole way through

    • Neil

      That’s interesting Karl. That would turn the ii and the iii chord into seventh chord inversions. I’ll have to compare it to the recording sometime to see how they match up. Very cool man, thanks for sharing.

  3. Wavatar

    I challenge anyone to list any/all of the I-iv-IV-V (e.g. C-Am-F-G) progressions used in rock songs since it seemed to be implemented in the 50′s – there must be a zillion. My fave is the Carpenter’s “Please Mr. Postman” ;) – What’s your’s???

    • Neil

      Hi Bobbo,

      It’s funny that you put this challenge out there cause I just came across a list of tunes with this progression here.

      It’s nowhere close to all the tunes that ever used this progression it’s a start.

      As for my favorite that uses this progression it’s hard to say, it seems to led itself to the creation of amazing tunes. I’m going to withhold judgement till I’ve heard them all. That may take a while though.

      So Lonely: The Police
      With or Without You: U2
      Taylor: Jack Johnson
      Soundtrack to My Life: Kid Cudi
      Under the Bridge: R.H.C.P.
      Beast of Burden: The Rolling Stones
      Damn It: Blink 182
      Hey Soul Sister: Train
      Down Under: Men at Work
      Let It Be: The Beatles
      What’s My Age Again: Blink 182
      As Is: Ani DiFranco
      Out of Habit: Ani DiFranco
      Glycerine: Bush
      When I Come Around: Green Day
      My Name is Jonas: Weezer
      No Woman, No Cry: Bob Marley
      How Far We’ve Come: Matchbox 20
      Don’t Stop Believing: Journey
      Run: Snow Patrol
      Head Over Feet: Alalanis Morissette
      Today: Smashing Pumpkins
      Jessie’s Girl: Rick Springfield
      Effortlessly: Sister Hazel
      Move Along: All American Rejects
      Save Tonight: Eagle Eye Cherry
      The Passenger: Iggy Pop
      Grenade: Bruno Mars
      Peace of Mind: Boston
      I Want You to Want Me
      No One Else: Weezer
      Heat of the Moment: Asia
      One Last Breath: Creed
      Self Esteem: The Offspring
      Country Roads: John Denver
      Black Label Society: In This River
      Michelle Branch: All You Wanted
      One Republic: Apologize
      Avril Lavigne: Complicated
      Zzzzz: The Cab
      Beautiful: James Blunt
      You and Your Hand: Pink
      Poker Face: Lady Gaga
      If I Were a Boy: Beyonce
      Forever Young: Alphaville
      Jason Mraz: I’m Yours
      Amazing: Alex Lloyd
      Happy Ending: Mika
      Can You Feel the Love Tonight: Elton John
      Wherever You Will Go: The Calling
      She Will Be Loved: Maroon 5
      Pictures of You: The Last Goodnight
      Fall at Your Feet: Crowded House
      Not Pretty Enough: Kasey Chambers
      The Horses: Daryl Braithwaite
      Sex and Candy: Marcy Playground
      Take on Me: A Ha
      Africa: Toto
      You’re Gonna Go Far Kid: The Offspring
      You Found Me: The Fray
      Tom: Natalie Imbruglia
      Superman: Five for Fighting

      • Wavatar

        Neil: Thanks for your reply. However, the list you present uses the first example in the ScaleTrainer “11 Common chord progressions” list:
        (I-V-vi-IV), song example= “With or Without You”. I was referring to the 4th example in same list (I-iv-IV-V) song example=”Stand By Me”. Again, they are all useful progressions and this listing is very helpful, but I bet the number of tunes using example 4 beats those using example 1.
        I can tell the 4th progression songs by ear now, (e.g. the Tokens’ “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”) and will use this tool to figure out songs that use the other 10 progressions. I believe that will improve my skills as an effective rhythm player, comper and overall tune-smith. Thanks again for your input and the useful link. May the other subscribers to this site enjoy the same value!

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