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8. Tonic Chord.

The principal note and chord of a key is the tonic. Practically all music gives preference to one note or chord, the tonic, making it the tonal center to which all other tones and chords are related. Any triad can follow the tonic triad. Any triad can progress to the tonic triad without affecting the type of chord progression.

9. Types of Chord Progressions.

There are four types of chord progression: normal, repetition, retrogression, and elision.

10. Normal Progression.

Normal progression occurs when chords progress from left to right through each successive chord group. Normal progression is shown on the chord group chart in Figure 11-21.

Figure 11-21. Normal Chord Progression

11. Repetition.

a. Repetition occurs when a chord is consecutively repeated. The repeated chords can be spelled differently or can be in different positions. In Figure 11-22, the tonic chord is repeated.

Figure 11-22. Repetition of Same Chord

b. Repetition also occurs when a chord is followed by another chord within the same chord group. In Figure 11-23, the IV chord is followed by the ii chord. Both chords are group two chords and have subdominant function.

Figure 11-23. Repetition Within Chord Group

12. Retrogression.

Retrogression occurs when chords progress from right to left on the chart away from the tonic chord (Figure 11-24). This movement can occur through each successive chord group or can skip a chord group. Normal progression usually follows retrogression.

Figure 11-24. Retrogression

a. The most common retrogressions are:

(Group Three) to (Group Four): vi iii
(Group One) to (Group Two): V ii
(Group One) to (Group Two): V IV

b. Less common retrogressions are:

(Group One) to (Group Four): V iii
(Group Two) to (Group Three): IV VI
(Group Two) to (Group Three): ii VI

13. Elision.

a. Elision occurs when one chord group is skipped in an otherwise normal (left to right) movement on the chord chart. In the first measure of Figure 11-25, the group two chord has been skipped. In the second measure of Figure 11-25, the group three chord has been skipped. Normal progression usually follows an elision.

Figure 11-25. Elision

b. The most common elisions are:

(Group Four) to (Group Two): iii IV
(Group Three) to (Group One): VI V
(Group Two) to (Tonic): IV I


 Identify which chord group (1, 2, 3, or 4) the following chords belong to (Figure 11-26). Write your answers in the spaces provided below the staff. Then identify which type of chord progression has occurred in each measure. Write your answers in the spaces provided above the staff.

Figure 11-26. Identify Types of Chord Progression

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Answer Key

David L. Heiserman, Editor

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Revised: June 06, 2015