This is part 3 in a series of video blog posts aimed at explaining one of the many answers to a common question that I get from my private students. The question is: What can I do to make a “cooler” chord progression? Of course, a “cooler” chord progression is a subjective thing – people don’t always agree on what makes a cool chord progression. However, this series illuminates some of the most common and musically pleasing options. How and when you use them is totally up to you! Last week, I demonstrated the use of a fully-diminished vi (six) chord as a “transition” or “passing” chord. This week I’m demonstrating how you can end a common I-V-vi-IV progression with a minor IV (iv). Scroll down to check out the video explanation!
Why Does a Minor iv Chord Work?
It is helpful to use roman numerals when we talk about chord progressions because roman numerals have upper and lower case versions. In harmonic analysis (what we’re doing here), a lower case roman numeral implies a minor chord. Changing our G major to a G minor chord means changing the the 3rd of our G triad from a B natural to a Bb. The most important identity of the B in this context is as the 6th in our home key – D major. By flatting this note (change it to Bb), we imply a D minor scale. Even though we aren’t fully modulating our key, the effect is still very powerful!
One of the coolest uses of a minor 4 (iv) chord is at the end of a chord phrase – just to take the listener in an unexpected direction temporarily. iv chords create a bit more tension that gets nicely resolved when the chords regain their footing in the original major key. In the video below you’ll see an example of how you can end a very common chord phrase by using a iv chord instead of a IV chord.