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April 11, 2014 / JayMan

Calling Music Geeks

Note the similarity between these songs:

What is the tune that all these songs feature? Is it an established musical device? Was there a prototypical song upon which all these songs are based? Anyone who has an idea, please do let me know.


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  1. chrisdavies09 / Apr 11 2014 2:48 PM

    Unfortunately on all but the first one they won’t play, just getting a message saying “this video contains content from UMG. It is restricted from playback on certain sites.” Will have to watch on Youtube. I’ll let you know if I figure out what it is.

  2. Andrew Swift / Apr 11 2014 2:48 PM

    They share a common chord progression, not really a melody: main chord, up a minor third, down a fourth, up a fifth.

    If you consider songs that have the same chord progressions to be “similar” than pretty much all the twelve-bar blues in the world are as similar to each other as these four songs are.

    What’s interesting to me about this particular chord progression is that it seems relatively modern. I know how to play thousands of rock songs, written from the 50’s through 2013, and I can’t think of any that have that exact sequence that are more than about 20 years old.

    I would be a lot of money that there are some older ones that I just can’t think of. It’s such a simple series that someone must have used it.

    One earlier similar song does come to mind: Do You Feel Like We Do, by Peter Frampton. It starts with the distinctive minor third interval, and ends the same way. Only the third chord is different.

    • JayMan / Apr 11 2014 2:53 PM

      @Andrew Swift:

      Thanks! Unfortunately, I have to take your word for much of it. 🙂

    • Ziel / Apr 13 2014 4:07 PM

      Andrew, not clear on your description of the chord progression – could you use Roman numeral notation or the chord names in key of G?

    • Andrew Swift / Apr 14 2014 2:09 PM

      In the key of G it would be G Major, Bb Major, F Major, then C Major. With roman numerals, it would be I – III – VII – IV.

  3. subpatre / Apr 12 2014 12:57 PM

    I’ve heard there was a secret chord
    That David played, and it pleased the Lord
    But you don’t really care for music, do you?
    It goes like this
    The fourth, the fifth
    The minor fall, the major lift
    The baffled king composing Hallelujah
    Hallelujah, Hallelujah
    Hallelujah, Hallelujah

    — Leonard Cohen’s 1984 Hallelujah. Covered by John Cale, Jeff Buckley, and dozens of others, but Rufus Wainwright’s performance for the movie “Shrek” is probably the widest known.

  4. panjoomby / Apr 13 2014 10:28 AM

    most of western popular music is 1 – 4 – 5 with a 2m, 3m, &/or 6m, sometimes an odd 7 – i’m a sucker for the ones that go 1 – 4 – 2 – 5 (they sound like “home” to me – all pretty standard in old bluegrass, blues, country, folk) technically: I – IV – II – V.

    JayMan, say you’re in the key of C, then C is the 1 chord & that song is likely to have a 4 chord (c-d-e-F) so expect an F (!), & a 5 chord (c-d-e-f-G) = G. & if you hear a minor, it’s either a 2m (Dm), 3m (Em) or a 6m (Am)…

    if you’re in the key of E the 1-4-5 is E-A-B. naming the chords by # instead of letter lets you change the key easily, b/c it’s all just a pattern based on where you start:) now you know! that big picture method of numbering chords (“the nashville chord system”) fits you into a band much more quickly than learning tedious scales. you’re ready to jam, dude.

    • MawBTS / Apr 19 2014 12:39 AM

      You explained it in the most confusing way possible…

  5. Alexander Stanislaw / Apr 19 2014 4:45 PM

    Its really hard to explain chords progressions in a non-confusing way as the above comments demonstrated.

    In Western music, most songs/pieces* have multiple notes sounding at once which is not universal across cultures. There are usually three to four notes sounded at a time. Groups of three to four notes form chords, however, there are only a handful of chords that sound pleasant to the typical listener – and since pop music is trying to appeal to a wide audience there are only a handful of chords that can tend to be used. Two songs will sound tend to sound similar if the sequence of chords is the same, which results in groups of pop songs that sound similar.

    However, chords are only a small part of what makes a piece/song sound the way it does. Tempo, instrumentation, and many other factors go into it. When two songs are stylistically similar and have the same chord progression it becomes more noticeable.

    This video sort of helps:

    *Piece is a general term, a song is a piece with words.

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