Note / chord progession - ur favourite?

when it comes to white keys i have a strategy of basically staying away from certain notes.
B = never, D and E = add for extra flavor C, F, G and A = knock yourself out. this is when im jamming away, not playing chords

i don’t have any favorite progressions, only favoritte scales.

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I know you didn’t want music theory, but here’s some anyway in case you are interested.

If you treat the first black key of the set of 3 (rather than the set of 2) as your “home”, then you’re playing in the scale “F# major pentatonic”. Pentatonic scales have five notes and use the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 6th notes of their partner scales that start on the same key. You can play major (“happy”) and minor (“sad/moody”) pentatonic scales (just like you can play major and minor “full” scales).

When you play every key on the keyboard in sequence (going from white to black to white as you encounter them), you’re playing “semi-tones” or “half a tone” difference between one note and the next. If you play two adjacent white notes which have a black note in between them (or two black notes with a white note between) then you’re playing a “whole tone” or “a tone” difference.

Major scales, minor scales (and the rest) are made up of two parts:

  • the number of notes
  • the relationships between them
    Both major and minor scales have the same number of notes (7) before you repeat the pattern. Pentatonic scales have 5. There are other scales, some with more notes, all with different sets of relationships.

You can start any scale on any note, and then follow the pattern of whole and half-tone relationships up/down and the scale will sound roughly similar regardless of where you start. Majors always sound upbeat; minors always sound moody. This is sometimes called “playing the scale in the key of X” (where X is the note you start on), or simply “playing in X major”. The different starting notes will cause the scale to have a slightly different colour - mostly because it’s higher/lower than any other version of that same scale, partly through association (memory of other music) and partly because maybe we’re made with fixed responses to certain frequencies.

The major scale relationship goes: whole whole half whole whole whole half
The major pentatonic scale goes: whole whole whole+half whole whole+half
There’s actually three different minor scales and I keep muddling them up so I won’t try.

You can use numbers to refer to the notes within the scale. So the first note of the scale gets labelled “1”, the 2nd “2” and so on. The numerals (I, II, III, IV etc) typically refer to triad chords starting on the 1, 2, 3, 4 etc of the scale. That’s a related topic, but different and big enough that I’ll leave it to another message or to someone else. I also know less about it :smiley:

So if you take that pentatonic scale you’re playing on all the black keys, you can start on a different key (maybe a white one) and play the same set of relationships (i.e. the same scale) but using different notes.

The pentatonic scales are nice because they have exactly that quality you mentioned: every note “matches” with every other note. If you ever play on kid’s versions of instruments, they often have just five notes rather than the 7 or 12 of “adult” ones, for exactly this reason. It helps keep the random play kids do sounding engaging in the hope that they don’t accidentally put themselves off music by playing something surprisingly ugly. :laughing:


If you’re gonna play all black keys as your skeleton, try using Db or Bb as your home (whether you want a major or minor-ish feel) and adding in the C F and A white keys. It’s an 8 note scale instead of 7 or 5. Oh well. This scale includes tons of chords, including some unusual combos:
Both F major and F minor
Both Gb major and Gb minor

It’s got a shed-ton of leading tones.

You get a series of tritones separated by minor 3rds.

It’s a “flat” scale, but all those black keys combined with the white A key usually give “sharp” associations. If you want to confuse or tease it even further in a “sharpward” direction, you can temporarily switch from playing the C or F white keys to playing the B, D or E white keys as passing or leading tones, as a sort of “bluff” or foreshadowing, depending on where exactly you’re going with this.

If you start on the Db key (and its major chord) as your home base, then you get both its flat 6th (A) and its natural 6th (Bb) notes in this scale (and their diminished and minor chords).

You also get the dominant V chord (Ab7… it’s an 8 note scale, so I have to double up on one of the 7 letters A-G when describing it, so I chose to do that with A and Ab).

You also get both major and minor feeling 4ths (Gb major and Gb minor).

There are all kinds of cool directions you can take this “scale”. I’d call it more of a “scavenger hunt” or a “map to the homes of the stars”, rather than a “scale”, though.

I usually write these “favorite scale” posts when I’m stoned and not looking at a keyboard, and I usually mess up the description somewhere along the way. But it’s not lunchtime yet here, so I think that shouldn’t be too confusing. You know what?..

TL;DR - If you’d rather start with a more normal mode than that, but still take the scenic route, look up and try “double harmonic major” (it’s not what I described above, but it’s probably a more familiar tonality for most people). 12tone and Rick Beato both have YouTube videos devoted to it. Also maybe check out the lydian dominant mode.


Since the topic is about chord progressions, I’ll mention a “starter” chord progression for that 8 note scale I mentioned above. Try playing these chords in order:

Bb minor
Db major
F major
Gb major
Db major
Bb minor
Gb major
Db diminished 7th (or Gb°7 or A°7, is same)
Gb minor
Db major
Bb minor
Ab major
Gb major

…and so on. That’s one typical style of chord progression that you can solo over with the scale I mentioned (i.e. all the black keys, plus the C, F and A white keys).

When I said it has a series of tritones separated by minor thirds, I meant the series of tritones (play the note pairs that are on the same row together as two note chords ascending up the keyboard, and you’ll hear what I mean):

C - Gb
Eb - A
Gb - C
A - Eb

You can keep repeating this pattern all the way up the keyboard. It’s a cool symmetry.

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I programmed that into a sequencer (because I’m slow to play and slower to remember sequences). It has a weird shifting, slightly unsettling vibe. Very curious!

This is a great thread. I have a question on progressions…

It was my (very basic) understanding that songs follow set chord progressions, which is why they sound good. I wanted to play with something funky so I looked up Prince’s ‘Let’s Work’ but that goes B minor 7th to E major 7th which is out of progression. It should be E minor 7th. Is that out of progression because…

Prince is on a higher plane and can make such things work?

Funk as a genre plays out of progression?

My limited understanding doesn’t realise this really is in progression because it is an inversion or something?

The tab is wrong? (There are some that list it starting at B major 7, but all the sheet PDFs list it at B minor)


There’s guidelines, but no rules. Loads of pop songs use the same few progressions; loads of jazz* uses the same few (and different ones from the common pop); loads of blues uses the same few…

But you can do what you want.



*And I’m mostly talking about older jazz here. All the jazz rules changed with Bebop in the late '50s.

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Thanks. I will google some more funk tunes for other progressions, conventional or otherwise.