1 3 5 4 Chord Progression

4 min read Jun 17, 2024
1 3 5 4 Chord Progression

The 1 3 5 4 Chord Progression: A Timeless Classic

The 1 3 5 4 chord progression, also known as the "four-chord song", is one of the most ubiquitous and recognizable chord progressions in popular music. Its simplicity and versatility make it a staple in countless genres, from rock and pop to country and folk.

The Structure and Feel

The progression consists of four chords built on the first (I), third (III), fifth (V), and fourth (IV) degrees of a major scale. The most common key used is C major, resulting in the following chords:

  • C major (I)
  • E major (III)
  • G major (V)
  • F major (IV)

This progression creates a strong sense of resolution and closure. The movement from the V chord (G major) to the I chord (C major) creates a satisfying cadence, while the IV chord (F major) provides a momentary shift in tonality, adding a touch of melancholy or longing.

Variations and Extensions

While the basic 1 3 5 4 progression is simple and effective, it can be expanded and varied in several ways:

  • Adding seventh chords: Incorporating seventh chords, such as G7 or F7, adds complexity and depth to the progression.
  • Changing the key: The progression can be transposed to different keys, providing a different sonic feel.
  • Adding inversions: Using inversions of the chords can create different harmonic textures.
  • Adding passing chords: Inserting additional chords between the main progression chords can add color and complexity.

Examples in Popular Music

The 1 3 5 4 chord progression is found in countless popular songs across various genres, showcasing its versatility and appeal. Here are a few examples:

  • "House of the Rising Sun" (The Animals): A classic folk song that utilizes the progression in its distinctive melody and harmonization.
  • "Blowin' in the Wind" (Bob Dylan): This iconic folk anthem features the progression in its melancholic melody and chord structure.
  • "My Girl" (The Temptations): This classic soul song uses the progression to create a joyful and uplifting feel.
  • "Sweet Home Alabama" (Lynyrd Skynyrd): This Southern rock anthem utilizes the progression in its driving rhythm and powerful melody.
  • "Wonderwall" (Oasis): This Britpop classic incorporates the progression with a slightly altered structure, creating a unique and recognizable sound.


The 1 3 5 4 chord progression is a fundamental building block in popular music. Its simplicity, effectiveness, and versatility have made it a timeless classic, found in countless songs across genres. Whether you're a seasoned musician or a beginner, understanding and experimenting with this progression is an essential step in your musical journey.

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