Numbering Chords In A Progression & Finding The 1 - 4 - 5 Trick

Numbering Chords In A Progression & Finding The 1 - 4 - 5 Trick

Numbering Chords In A Progression

A chord progression is the order in which chords are played. It is common and useful to refer to chords in a progression by numbers instead of chord names. Using the key of C as our example, we can use a Key Chords formula to find the chord numbers for the key of C. The key chord formula is Major, Minor, Minor, Major, Major, Minor, Diminished.

Scale Step: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7
Type: Major - Minor - Minor - Major - Major - Minor - Diminished 

Chord: C- Dm - Em - F - G - Am - Bdim

The C chord is the 1 chord, The Dm chord is the 2 chord, The Em chord is the 3 chord, the F chord is the 4 chord, the G chord is the 5 chord, the Am chord is the 6 chord, and the Bdim chord is the 7 chord. So instead of saying the chord progression is C - F - G, we can say it is 1 - 4 - 5. Why would you want to do this? It makes it easier to transpose (change) the chord progression to other keys. For example: take the same numbered chord progression 1 - 4 - 5 and transpose it to the key of D. Look at the chart for the key of D.

Scale Step: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7
Type: Major - Minor - Minor - Major - Major - Minor - Diminished 

Chord: D - Em - F#m - G - A - Bm - C#dim

The 1 - 4 - 5 chord progression is now D - G - A. Using this method you can find the chords for the 1 - 4 - 5 progression in any major key.

Finding The 1 - 4 - 5 Barre Chord Trick

A quick and easy trick to find the 1 - 4 - 5 progression, which is common in blues, pop, and other types of music, is to use barre chords. Since the low four strings on the guitar are tuned in 4ths the following trick makes finding the 1 - 4 - 5 in any key easy if you are familiar with barre chords. 

Major Key Progressions

We will begin by picking a key to find the progression for. Let’s use A (major) for our first example. The 1 chord is obviously an A chord. So play an A barre chord (based on the open E chord shape) at the 5th fret.

A Major Barre Chord

Now to find 4 chord we simply play a barre chord based on open A chord shape at the same (5th) fret. That gives us a D (Major) chord:

D Major Barre Chord

To find the 5 chord we simply move that same open A barre chord shape up 2 frets. That gives us an E (major) chord:

E Major Barre Chord

So the 1 - 4 - 5 progression in the key of A is A - D - E. 

If we tried the same thing in the key of G (major) we would get G - C - D.

G Major Barre Chord

C Major Barre Chord

D Major Barre Chord

You can also start with the open A chord barre shape. Let’s look at the key of C as our next example. 

The first chord is a C (based on the open A chord barre shape) at the 3rd fret: 

C Major Barre Chord

The 4 chord is now 2 frets lower (in pitch) and uses the open E chord barre shape. That gives us an F (major) chord at the 1st fret:

F Major Barre Chord

The 5 chord is 2 frets higher using the same open E chord barre shape which gives us a G (major) chord:. 

G Major Barre Chord

So the 1 - 4 - 5 progression in the key of C is C - F - G. 

Minor Key Progressions

Minor key progression work exactly the same way except using minor chords instead of major chords. In the key of A Minor, you would start with an A minor barre chord at the 5th fret and the progression would be Am - Dm - Em

A Minor Barre Chord

D Minor Barre Chord

E Minor Barre Chord

This also works for 7th chord progressions making it great for blues. 

Jam Track 6 Posted On Media Page And YouTube

Jam Track 6 Posted On Media Page And YouTube

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