Sunday, September 23, 2012

Let's Have A Little Fun!!!

A couple of years ago my girls brought a very interesting fact to my attention, via YouTube. Did you know that every pop song in the last 40 years uses the same four chords? It's true! They had me watch a YouTube video by Axis of Awesome - 4 Chords and I was astounded, mostly because I had never realized this. Every song uses the I, vi, V, IV chord progression (see the "Scale Degrees" post).

Here is the URL to the video (Warning: there is profanity in the beginning)

One of my students wanted only to play pop songs for their recital pieces. I had tried to explain to them that, unless they are arranged specifically for piano at an advanced level, they are pretty monotonous for the audience. Once I saw this video I shared it with them and they got it, to the point that they wanted to do a parody of it. So we did! It was a lot of fun and everyone was amazed at the validity in it.

Now I'm not knocking the I, iv, V, IV chord progression. It obviously is very successful! I just like to see my students broaden their horizon and go beyond that...and then go ahead and write a pop song, if they so wish. And, if they want a pop song to succeed, definitely use the I, vi, V, IV progression.  But, if you're going to write, or play, classical, jazz, symphonic metal, opera, etc., it will have to be much more complicated and original.

Hope you enjoyed the video as much as we did! Have a great week!!!

1 comment:

  1. My comment on the above somehow ended up being posted in the WRONG place, viz. on your "Order of Flats and Sharps" blog. Sorry about that. Here it is repeated below:

    Just a clarification regarding the "most popular chord progression". You mention it as "I, vi, V, IV" which would be, say in the key of C:
    Cmaj, Amin, Gmaj, and Fmaj. (i.e. I,vi,V,IV)

    I think that is not right: it should be I,V,vi,IV, equivalent to Cmaj,Gmaj,Amin,Fmaj.

    I believe you untintentionally got it mixed up with the I,vi,IV,V progression. In "C" that would be C,Am,F,G. That is itself an alternative to the I,vi,ii,V order, as in C,Am,Dm,G (since D is the relative minor of F). Both are different from the I,V,vi,IV.

    Don't you agree? (Caribman9999 on