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The Four Chord Song April 23, 2010

Posted by Michael in Music.

This is why drummers are the ones who really make a difference.

Vodpod videos no longer available.


1. Cathy - April 23, 2010

DARLING dudes.

*wanna make ’em a pie*

*…and save out a piece for Dave*

2. Cathy - April 23, 2010

*… and Michael*

3. Michael - April 23, 2010

You could do the same comedy sketch with the 12-bar blues chord progression, which is the foundation of a gazillion rock songs.

4. Michael - April 23, 2010

*… and Michael*

Glad you had that afterthought.

Spurs take on the Mavs tonight at home.

5. scottw - April 23, 2010

You two should get a room.

6. Dave in Texas - April 23, 2010

One guy does it better.

This whole genre is about the “ballady” pop tune.

Rock is just three chords.

7. Michael - April 23, 2010

Rock is just three chords.

C, F, G. Sometimes a G7th.

8. Michael - April 23, 2010

Or E, A, D. Depends on the singer’s vocal range.

9. Dave in Texas - April 23, 2010

I IV V with any tonic.

10. Michael - April 23, 2010

I wasn’t about to memorize the chords for more than two tonics. It was a capo after that.

11. Michael - April 23, 2010

I think the four-chord ballady sequence in the video is G, Em (or Em7th), C, D.


IIRC, I could do Mr. Bojangles with that.

Dave, a little help here?

12. Michael - April 23, 2010

Or, you could start with C and end with F, with an Am7th in there somewhere.

Like I said, memorizing the chords and finger picking for two tonics was my limit.

13. Dave in Texas - April 23, 2010

just do C D G

14. Cathy - April 23, 2010

Spurs 47 – Mavs 44

15. MCPO Airdale - April 23, 2010

Do, a deer, a female deer. . .

16. Michael - April 23, 2010

Dang, that game was a frickin’ bar fight.

Spurs won.

The Spurs have shed their reputation as a soft, technical, non-physical team. Manu went back in the game with a broken nose. They kept beating on Dirk.

Awesome show. Dirk was awesome. I hate liking that guy.

17. Michael - April 23, 2010

I mean, Dirk is not human. Frickin’ seven-footer hits every free throw and is a constant threat from three-point range.

That’s not human.

18. lauraw - April 24, 2010

Does everybody here at IB know that they are ALL invited to the CT Meetup in July?

Who hasn’t heard this? Put me some knowledge. Is there anyone you think I’ve overlooked or to whom you’d like me to send a private invitation?

19. Gromulin - April 24, 2010

That was great. I’m so out of touch with modern pop that I only recognized about 30% of the song references, but the point being…you don’t have to. It’s just the same progression recycled over 40 years.

20. Wolv - April 27, 2010

Drummer here!

21. j. howard - May 2, 2010

gads – now I know why I never could stand pop – it’s all the same!

22. Anonymous - May 3, 2010

this video is full of win.

23. Guardian Hero - May 5, 2010

Nice find. Sounds like that video about the guy who was complaining that every song he heard reminded him of Pachelbel’s Canon in D.

24. Anonymous - May 6, 2010

You’re all wrong so far it seems. The progression is I vi IV V or sometimes it’s I vi ii V. So in the Key of D Major (for all you guitarists out there) That’s D Major B minor G major (or E minor) A major. For all white keys for those on keyboards (Key of C Major). That’s C Major A Minor F Major (or D Minor) and G major. Of course various inversions gives a little variety. As well as the occasional seventh chord. Experiment away and come up with your own lame pop song.

25. Anonymous - May 6, 2010

he actually plays in E major probably because that’s one of the easier keys for guitarists to play in

26. Anonymous - May 6, 2010

Also, if you’re using the variation that has the ii chord, you’ll probably want to play that chord in first inversion, it’s just a little more pleasing to the layman’s ear. of course, i like chromaticism and dissonance like nobodies business. but more people like consonance more…. so first inversion for the win.

27. Retired Geezer - May 6, 2010

he actually plays in E major probably because that’s one of the easier keys for guitarists to play in

There is nothing more thrilling than an Em chord.

Except, possibly a Boy Scout, noodling on a clarinet.

28. Sindre - May 6, 2010

Don’t you have ears, Anonymous? You’re describing the 50s doo-wop chord sequence. The chord sequence in question here is I-V-vi-IV. In the key of C, that’s C-G-A minor-F.

29. BrewFan - May 6, 2010

I’m pretty sure the sequence is W-H-O-C-A-R-E-S

30. daveintexas - May 6, 2010

yeah, on the skin flute maybe

31. Cathy - May 6, 2010

You two should get a room.

So the monster house isn’t good enough?

*booked room for CT Moron Meetup*

32. fantagor - May 6, 2010

This exemplifies why pop rock is a sham. Truly original acts get little press because they dare to venture outside the range of the “fab four” chords, which appeal to the tin-eared buffoons that comprise the majority of human society incapable spotting excellence if it came up and bit them in the junk. Want examples? See hard rock and metal acts such as Iron Maiden, Tool, King Diamond, Megadeth, Soundgarden, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Rush…all driven by, as the header says, excellent drumming.

33. skinbad - May 6, 2010

I’ve never heard of those groups. Perhaps I shall give them a listen.

34. Nan G - May 7, 2010

Sindre – May 6, 2010

Don’t you have ears, Anonymous? You’re describing the 50s doo-wop chord sequence. The chord sequence in question here is I-V-vi-IV. In the key of C, that’s C-G-A minor-F.


In fact I recently read a whole book on T-Rex singer ”song writer,” Marc Bolan.

He almost always used those 4 chords….. C-G-A minor-F.
He only ever KNEW four chords!
Sometimes he only used ONE chord – E – like in a song called Elemental Child.
He did stole liberally from people like Chuck Barry.

Problem was he skiffled until he had to go on TV.

35. Michelle - May 7, 2010


36. KEvin - May 8, 2010

Same concept done with Pachelbel’s canon.

37. flashbazzbo,s.e. - May 15, 2010

Thank G-d for capos.

Bowie does some neat twists with these formulas (formulea? formuli?) on Drive in Saturday and Prettiest Star.

38. daveintexas - May 15, 2010

capos are for pussies

39. flashbazzbo,s.e. - May 15, 2010

Yeah, cuz barring a Guild acoustic dreadnaught gives us that oh so subtle finger picking sound.

40. reason - May 15, 2010

I don’t play guitar, but I always heard frfom my guitar-playing friends that capos are basically cheating and are never to be used by guitar players lacking a vagina.

41. Michael - May 15, 2010

Your friends were right. It’s a mechanical way to artificially shorten the neck of your guitar so that you can play hard chords by using easy chords.

42. CallanPR - May 16, 2010

Poor cathy, just wanted to fuck the guys in the band and ended up getting the most boring conversation known to man.

43. Coolblue - May 27, 2010

Whoever said using capos is cheating or for pussies is definitely not a very good or experienced guitarist. Many of the great guitarists use a capo at some point in performance or indeed recording.

The capo is used for various reasons by guitarists. For example, resonant effect. If you, say , play a progression in E major using a capo from the 4th fret you get a very different sound from doing so in the open or barre positions. The resonant effect is more rounded and tingling.

44. Avery - July 14, 2010

Dave in Texas, you had to say ” this guy does it better” just because you are from the US, happens every time, if they are not American then they eat the shit off other peoples arses.

45. geoff - July 14, 2010

if they are not American then they eat the shit off other peoples arses.

True, but that’s not why DinTX said it.

46. Russ, The Ugly American from Winterset - July 14, 2010

No, the correct saying is “they can eat the peanuts out of our shit”.

Big difference.

47. Jim - September 11, 2010

Don’t stop believing is 5 chords. Emaj Bmaj C#min Amaj Emaj Bmaj G#min Amaj.

48. SeismicMike - October 5, 2010

These songs are all I V vi IV. Pick your key. Some go I V vi IV over and over. Some do I V vi IV and then I V IV, then repeat. The difference between these, is of course the tempo, rhythm, melody, lyrics and structure from verse to chorus to bridge. Rob Paravonian is also quite humorous in pointing these out.

49. mikeisbored - February 20, 2011

Does anyone have good list of songs that can be played with only THREE chords?

50. mikemachina - February 21, 2011

@mikeisbored Nearly every blues and rock & roll song in existence. 12 bar blues. I-IV-V, typically in the I-I-IV-I-V-IV-I progression.

51. Gh0st DJ - October 16, 2011

as someone replied earlyer in scale of C it’s C G Am F. Why ppl keep saying that are 3 chords when it’s a 4 chords song ? :))

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