Embedded Chord Subs In the

"Blue Moon" Chord Progression

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Last week we learned the "Blue Moon" chord progression. Here's a brief review:

The "Blue Moon" chord progression: I - VI - II - V In other words, one measure of the I chord, one measure of the VI chord, one measure of the II chord, and one measure of the V chord. And then repeat as many times as you want, or until some adult says "Would you kids please stop banging on that piano?"

There are many variations to this progression. Usually the two "middle chords" -- the VI and the II -- are played as minor chords, and are then known as vi and ii (use small Roman numerals for minor chords). Usually, too, all the chords except the I chord have a 7th in them --in other words, in the key of C:

C - Am7 - Dm7 - G7

You can experiment around and find combinations you like -- you're not obligated to use the same exact chords as everyone else!

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How to Embed Chord Subs Between the Main Chords

You know by now, too, that you can use 1/2 step slides as connective chords between the main chords. For example, if I was playing the progression listed above, I might insert a Bb7 between C and Am7 as a chord substitution. That would let me "slide in" to Am7 in a smooth fashion. Then I might slide into the next chord -- Dm7 -- from 1/2 step above -- Ebm7. Or I might slide into G7 -- Ab7 to G7. Or I might slide into C the second time around: G7 Db7 C.

So starting with this:

C - Am7 - Dm7 - G7

Which looks like this when notated:

....I might end up with this:

C - Bb7 - Am7 - Eb7 - Dm7 - Gb 7 - G7 - Db7 - C

Quite a difference! Here's what it looks like in notation in the key of C:

Experiment around and see what you can come up with. Slide up to chords and down to chords. Make some minor and some major. Add 7ths, add 9ths.

But whatever you do, get this chord progression down cold so you can play it in any key, and recognize it when you hear it. It's used in a thousand songs, and you can be sure that it will continue to be used in the future in new and creative ways!

This page updated on October 26, 2013.