Chord Progression of the Week

Every week in 2017 Gill of gillwire brings you an instructional video analyzing one of his favorite chord progressions. Watch for education and entertainment.  The focus is on harmonic analysis and if he gets the lyrics and melody right then it's just an added bonus!
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Week 12 - My Life, Billy Joel

This classic actually goes back to 1978 but to me it still sounds great today. A straight ahead I IV V verse but with a bunch of surprise modulations and 6 and 9 chords in the other sections that show Joel's command of the finer elements of harmonic motion. Give it a spin, and try it at home for yourself if you dare.


Week 11 - The Legend of Zelda Game Over Theme, Koji Kondo

This one brings back such fond memories of afternoons spent working through the 9 dungeons, searching for tri-force pieces and heart containers. The deceptively simplistic sounding tune that marks the death of our hero is both beautiful and melancholy. In the game it is simply played as an 8 bit synth melody line but I've added some left hand chords to go along with it to make it more of a recital piece, maybe just a 1 minute recital piece.


Week 10 - Annie Waits, Ben Folds

Piano extraordinaire Ben Folds kicked off his solo debut album (after Ben Folds Five) with this C major upbeat number. The whole album is actually in the key of C major but that doesn't mean it's basic and boring! Ben keeps it interesting with lots of modulations and memorable melodies. Stay tuned to the end to check out professor Gill playing the song on a guitar that's about a half step sharp at the end, just because he wanted to.


Week 9 - If It Makes You Happy, Sheryl Crow

A rootsy rock rendition of Sheryl Crow's pop hit. The song turned out to be a great candidate to use for a lesson on harmony in the major key including a look at the 7 chords that are built on the major diatonic scale, I ii iii IV V vi and the diminished vii.


Week 8 - Saturday In The Park, Chicago

This one goes back to the early seventies, a catching tune by Robert Lamm. The unique piano intro lets you know that Chicago is on the scene then it goes through some key changes to create a pop song far from the standard 3 chord rock. This is the longest of the CPOTW tutorials so far because the second half is a detailed lesson on how to translate the piano voicings to guitar. With a dropped D tuning you can get impressive results.


Week 7 - Back To Black, Amy Winehouse

This song comes alive on the piano, and it only takes 4 chords to learn the whole song. One of the best parts is how the left hand bass part interacts rhythmically with the steady right hand chords to create groovy syncopation. It's a retro inspired classic by our favorite bad girl who saw such an unfortunate end.


Week 6 - And I Love Her, The Beatles (Lennon/McCartney, but mostly McCartney in this case)

You knew it was inevitable that I would eventually get around to featuring a Beatles song, you were in eager anticipation and now you need wait no longer. I'm sure it won't be the last time I take a crack at the Beatles' catalog, there's a lot to learn from it, including the Picardy Third as seen at the end of And I Love Her. Another love song for February, with a minor latin twist.


Week 5 - I'll Follow You Into The Dark, Death Cab For Cutie

Here's one you can learn to impress your sweetheart on Valentine's Day. Anyone can buy diamonds and chocolate but a romantic serenade is priceless. A simple song in F (or is it D minor?) that has an unforgettable melody.


Week 4 - Creep, Radiohead

A perfect song for sing-alongs around the campfire or at parties. Learn these 4 chords and you can wow your friends with this crowd pleaser. The beauty of it is how it has a distinctive and interesting sound even without changing the chord progression through the whole song (the dominant borrowed from the relative minor and the minor 4 chord add just enough spice), not all songs need a bridge after all. Here you go, creep it up!


Week 3 - Our House, Madness

This 80's party tune has some interesting movement in key changes and although it is in the major key, it replaces chords that are usually major with minor chords. All that is built around a basic I, V, ii, IV framework which goes to show you can start with something simple and turn it into something intriguing with a little bit of modification. Those harmonic elements along with a really cool piano/string/horn arrangement on Madness' recording make this a favorite in Prof. Gill's classroom.


Week 2 - I Figured You Out, Elliott Smith

Last week Kill Rock Stars released an Elliott Smith recording which, to our pleasure, just saw the light of day for the first time. To commemorate the rare occasion, Prof. Gillwire gives you the rundown on I Figured You Out which isn't too difficult to play but has a very effective bridge utilizing a secondary dominant chord from the relative minor key. For extra credit check the explanations of the first and second inversion chords in roman numeral figured bass notation... probably too much information.


Week 1 - Baby Love, The Supremes

Learn to play this Motown classic made famous by the Supremes, or just watch Prof. Gillwire talk about nerdy music theory stuff while playing piano and singing a ridiculous falsetto.