What is a sequence in music

The most common chord sequences

To be a performer or creator of music is difficult enough. It is important not only to know but also to understand the mechanism of hidden processes. Chord sequences are often used in pop music. They are a versatile tool for creating melodies because they can be used in many different styles.


If a sound tends toward a certain tonal center or central chord, such a piece is called a sequence. Sometimes it is a multiple of the syntactic structure of a harmonic cell, in which case the sequence becomes the basis for writing a classical piece. The use of sequences is clearly related to form and rhythm.

Depending on the repetition frequency of the segment and its length, you can divide sequences into 2, 4, or 8-chord sequences. Chord sequences even help to determine whether a melody belongs to one of the musical styles. A person who is just beginning to learn music can distinguish between classical and pop compositions in this way. If you want to write your own songs, it is important to be able to build chord sequences that are repetitive and easy to remember.

Differences from harmony in classical music

The origins of the chord sequences used for pop compositions are folk songs. Simplicity of performance was very important there, as the instruments were played by people who had not studied music notation, but only mastered some of the techniques.

For writing pop music is characterized by simplicity and repetition of the chord sequence. It is based on the repetition of the musical segment, in contrast to classical music, where the harmony moves continuously. The same principle is used when writing short musical fragments used for advertising.

The origins of the chord sequence used for pop compositions are folk songs. There, simplicity of performance was very important, because the instruments were played by people who had not studied music notation, but only mastered some of the techniques.

The real element of the style was consistency in jazz music. Initially it was close to classical harmony, but soon ragtime began to strive for simpler repetitions – a characteristic of later compositions.

Types of harmony movement

Harmony can move in one of three types:

  • quarto-quinto;
  • chromatic;
  • diatonic.

It is on these three types that other subspecies of chord sequence are built. The basis for the construction is the gamma, which is why chords are numbered according to the step in which their tonic is located.

The sequence can be played in any tonality. If the diatonic structure is maintained, only Roman numerals are used in writing the chords. If a septacord must be used, indicate the change in class – 7 or x.

Functional sequences.

They are based on magic function circles:

for major T-D-S-T;

For a minor T-MD-S-T (or a major T-MD-S-D-T).

The above circles use the notations: T – tonic, D – dominant, S – subdominant. These circles correspond to any functional sequence. For example, I-IV-V-I, I-VI-IV-V-I, or II-V-I-II. You can create such sequences for any scale.

Non-Functional Sequences

Modal and tonal sequences are nonfunctional. They lack a clear resolution to the dominant and subdominant tonics. There are also no tonal pulls. These sequences can involve anywhere from two tonal variations. An example of this is Am7 – Hm7, which is the most common sequence. For example, it can be interpreted in a Doric minor, then the formula would be I-IIm7. The same chord sequence in major tonality can be represented as II-III in G.

A non-functional sequence can be constructed on the basis of natural harmonies. An example of this would be the sequence in Mixolydian G major or Aeolian C. The formula might be as follows: G-Dm-Em-F. At the same time, non-functional sequences most often have only 2 chords in their composition. Melodies are based on their alternation, and there are a lot of such compositions. But sequences with a large number of chords that alternate among themselves are used more often.

Where are the chord sequences used?

Chords are the basis of many styles: jazz, heavy metal, blues and the like. Borrowing the chord sequence has become the basis for many classical pieces. All modern pop is built on the use of sequences.

There is an interesting fact associated with pop. If it is plagiarism to borrow 7 notes in a row, sequences do not fall under this norm. After all, otherwise many composers would have to share royalties with the long dead Bach, who owns many beautiful chord sequences, or rather his descendants. The use of the sequences is not subject to copyright. This is why many people think that pop songs are similar to each other and have the same melody.

The most commonly used sequences in jazz are

Jazz chord progressions are the most fun to learn because they are the most unusual, complex, and beautiful. One of the most common progressions is the descending ii V I.

| Cmaj7 | % |Cm7 | F7 | Bbmaj7 | % | Bbm7 | Eb7 | Abmaj7.

As you can see, this is a major sequence in which the fragment begins in C tonality and ends in Ab major. The tonality does not change throughout the segment. This progression is recommended for guitarists who are just beginning their introduction to jazz sequences. This sequence has a related minor variation:


It will help even experienced musicians expand their knowledge. Minor chord sequences will be more difficult to learn than the major ones because of the presence of 7altalt.

Another popular jazz and blues guitar move is the I to IV movement. Many performers are familiar with it in a minor key, but building a sequence in a major key will be quite interesting. Examples you can try right away:

Cmaj7-Gm7-C7-F-maj7 or Cmaj7-Gm9-C13-Fmaj9-F6/9.

Try them in different tones. This will be a great exercise for your ears and fingers.

Chord Techniques

You can create a chord progression in many different ways. One of the most common is to use your own hearing. This technique involves the composer humming the melody that comes to mind or the lyrics, and then matching the chord progressions to it.

Harmonic chord progression is typical of classical music. Other styles use a limited number of sequences, where harmony is not essential. There are many techniques that can help you create your own chord progression. You can change the chords to the opposite tonality, or you can make additions to them. Often, chords are simply swapped. To find a more appropriate technique for you, try and do other manipulations with the T-S-D-T pattern. This is another useful exercise for future composers and just musicians.

An example of creating a sequence

So, you already know about 20 chords you can play on the guitar and are eager to create a song of your own? For such cases, it’s the picking method that’s suitable, with which you can create a simple and memorable composition.

Creating a chord sequence on the guitar starts with finding the scale for the song. To do this, you need to have a ready-made lyric or at least a motif. Sing it a few times to correctly choose the scale that will form the basis of the new sequence. Determine the note that predetermines the melody.

Determine the tonality of the scale. To do this, take the note you found, sing the song again. We recommend that you always take a major first, and if it doesn’t fit, try a minor.

Based on the note and the scale, applying the rules of chord family, you will easily find the right combination.

If you don’t play the guitar professionally enough, use the “three chords” trick. Let’s break it down based on the major scale and the base note “C.” In this case, the sequence will look like this: C major – F major – G seventh chord.

In order to learn how to create more complex melodies, you must constantly practice. Learn the sequences that are used in tunes that belong to different styles. Try writing your first sequences that can form the basis of songs. Be sure to do a lot of repetition while working with sequences. If you didn’t manage to write your tune the first time, you will definitely succeed from the 101st time, so don’t give up trying. You will have to have patience for this.

What is a sequence in music simple definition?

A sequence in music is a repetition of a musical phrase.

What is the sequence of a song?

There is no one definitive answer to this question. Different people may have different opinions on what constitutes a song. However, there are generally six main tracks that make up a song: the intro, the verse, the chorus, the bridge, the outro, and the ending.

What types of sequences are there in music?

There are many types of sequences in music. Some of the most common sequences are the I-IV-V chord progression, the circle of fifths, and the rondo form.

What is an example of a sequence in popular music?

One example of a sequence in popular music is the chord progression I-IV-V. This sequence is often used in blues and rock music, and can be heard in songs such as “Johnny B. Goode” by Chuck Berry and “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd.

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