Chord Progressions with Borrowed Chords

In this lesson I am going to begin to answer a question a user had about why some chord progressions in popular music contain chords that aren't supposed to be within the key.

There can actually be many reasons for this, but for the most part, a lot of the chords found in popular music that don't fit into the original key can be labeled as either borrowed chords or secondary dominants. In this lesson, I will focus on borrowed chords and save the secondary dominants for my next tutorial.

Having said all of this, it is important to remember that most of the artists that create some of the most beloved music of the past hundred years probably don't really no where these chords come from either. They write their music mostly through intuition and it just sounds good to them. They may only know a few different chord forms, or perhaps they are simply emulating one of their musical heroes. But for our purposes, I think it would be nice to know how to categorize these chords so you can experiment with them freely as well and have many more options to choose from than if you just tried guesswork to write your progressions.

I suggest checking out some of my earlier tutorials on major and minor keys first so you will have a firm grip on the material I am using for this lesson. Check out these lessons here:

Understanding Major Keys

Understanding Minor Scales

Writing Major Key Chord Progressions

Writing Minor Key Chord Progressions

After reviewing these lessons above, be sure to download the PDF for this lesson so you can follow along with the video more easily.

Chord Progressions with Borrowed Chords PDF Download

Now the scales I am using to get my chords from in this lesson aren't the only ones you can use. You will also find modes being the basis of chords you can choose from, ie C major and C Dorian. However, I have kept it at major and minor scales so it won't get too overwhelming, but the concept is pretty easy to understand I think.

If you combine this information with the info in the lessons I linked to above, you will be creating musical and creative chord progressions in no time. 🙂

Up next! Secondary dominants...


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Chord Progressions with Borrowed Chords

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