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Three Chord Progressions MEMBER LESSON
Published: 2013-09-10 Updated: 2016-01-15 00:00:00 • 2918

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Three Chord Progressions

by Curt Sheller, Curt Sheller Publications

Three-chord tunes, though, are more common, since a melody may then dwell on any note of the scale. Often the chords may be selected to fit a pre-conceived melody, but just as often it is the progression itself that gives rise to the melody.

The three-chord I - IV - V progression, a particularly popular kind of circle progression can be placed into a four-bar phrase in several ways that have been put to endless use in popular music. Using the Nashville Numbering System there are represented as 1 4 5.

  • I - IV - V - V ( examples in C: C F G G )
  • I - I - IV - V ( C C F G )
  • I - IV - I - V ( C F C G )
  • I - IV - V - IV ( C F G F )

The twelve bar blues and its many variants use an elongated, three-line form of the I - IV - V progression that has also generated countless hit records, including the most significant output of rock and rollers such as Chuck Berry and Little Richard. In its most elementary form (there are many variants) the chords progress as follows:

  • I - I - I - I
  • IV - IV - I - I
  • V - IV - I - I

WikipediA: Three Chord Progressions


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Songs

There are too many songs to list that only have three chords. Go to any music store and there will be books actually titles Three Chord Songs. but here are a few

  • All Shook Up
  • Amazing Grace
  • Away In a Manger
  • Battle Hymn of the Republic
  • Billy Boy
  • Blowin’ In the Wind
  • Blue Suede Shoes
  • Bye, Bye, Love
  • Camptown Races
  • Chantilly Lace
  • Don’t Be Cruel
  • Down By the Riverside
  • For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow
  • Frankie and Johnny
  • Goodnight, Ladies
  • Hang On Sloopy
  • Hail, Hail, the Gang’s All Here
  • He’s Got the Whole World
  • How Much Is That Doggie...
  • Jambalaya
  • La Cucaracha
  • London Bridge
  • Marianne
  • Mary Had a Little Lamb
  • Mexican Hat Dance
  • Row, Row, Row Your Boat
  • Skip to My Lou
  • Three Blind Mice
  • Tom Dooley

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Just browsing over both books, they look fantastic! I'm a guitarist and uke player for over 25 years and was thinking about writing a ukulele book but you've already written what I think are the best, most comprehensive and thorough books I've ever seen for the instrument. I just might end up buying every book you've written and I'll be giving my highest recommendation for your books to my friends and students. Thank you so much for taking the time to write such great books! — Peter Rhee

Aloha, Curt, All I can say is WOW! What you have accomplished is simply incredible! All the best — Glen Hirabayashi, The Aloha Boys

Folks, if you haven't stopped by Curt's site, do so right now! ..And get his books, they are fantastic. This guy knows his stuff and is able to pass it along too. — Alan Johnson Proprietor, The 4th Peg

I can highly recommend Curt's Uke books — I have four of them and they are excellent. — fatveg — Portland

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