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Implied key areas

An implied key area is one where there’s no resolution to the I chord. Resolution to the I chord is standard in every pop or folk song, and takes a few different forms:


  • IV – V – I (F – G – C)
  • ii – V – I (Dmin – G – C)
  • IV – I (F – C)


My posts on chord patterns and cadential patterns talk about this in more detail.



You can avoid the obvious by going to the vi chord instead of I. Or you could try going to the iii chord. These are standard moves, but they can be effective.

Avoid the I chord by taking a chord pattern and adding new chords to that pattern.

Here are some techniques that work…


  • Go up a half step from a minor chord to a major chord (i.e. Amin – Bb)
  • Go up a third from major chord to major chord (B – D)
  • Go down a third from major chord to major chord (C – A)


…and here’s a standard chord pattern:


I – vi – ii – V – I (C – A minor – D minor – G – C)


A new progression made by applying the above techniques to the chord pattern could look like this:


I – vi – bVII – ii – V – III – I (C – Amin – Bb – Dmin – G – E – C)


Barre chords are helpful for playing this type of progression. Here are a couple of useful links if you’re not familiar with these.


Making changes

I wrote the above progression away from the guitar. When I played it, I noticed a couple of ways to make it better. The ii – V – III – I (Dmin – G – E – C) part of the progression seemed awkward.

I played it a few times, and realized the move from Dmin to G bothered me. I changed the G to Gmin and that seemed to work better. Then, instead of going to the I chord (C) after the E chord, I went to Amin.

The final progression became:


I – vi – bVII – ii – v – III – vi (C – Amin – Bb – Dmin – Gmin – E – Amin)


Of course, these are just personal preference. The original works. I just didn’t like it as much.


 Changing habits

The point of making chord progressions away from the guitar is to avoid having your habits and limitations at the guitar dictate what you write. Working this way gives you a greater chance of coming up with stuff you probably wouldn’t have discovered otherwise.


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