Do This at EVERY Chord Practice

There is one thing that you need to make sure you’re doing every single time you train yourself on the practice of guitar chord progressions...

At every chord practice session you need to be doing parallel chord harmony transitions. And, here’s why... When we only study chord movements in diatonic harmony, we’re only looking at a portion of the chords we have at our disposal.

But, when we study the chords of the parallel key centers, we end up with the majority of chords we’re going to encounter during the learning of new songs, or from any songs that we’re going to compose…

Since major and minor keys are the foundation of all styles of music, we need to know and understand how both sides of harmony function independently and also how they can function together.


The first thing that we’re going to do is strengthen our understanding for parallel keys. To get started with this, we'll study the key signature for one of the most common major keys we use when studying music, the key of “C Major.”

The key of “C Major” has no sharps and no flats making it an excellent key for doing music theory. Since the key is based on the major tonality, we will have a “C Major” chord built from off of the first step.

Next, you’ll need to fully understand what the rest of the key harmonizes out to after that. This is called, "Harmonization," of the major key into chords. It moves across the notes of the key going step-wise, and constructs a chord on each degree of the scale.

Next, we will to switch the tonality of this key of “C Major,” so that we can learn about the notes and the chords that operate alongside of the minor tonality (off the same tonic note of “C”). This is called "Parallel Harmony."

In using Parallel Harmony we need to become familiar with what scale tones and which chords exist within a parallel running key to, "C Major." For our example, we will use the key of “C Minor.” Let’s begin with the scale tones for a “C Minor” scale.

The key of “C Minor” has three flats located off of the notes found on the; 3rd, 6th and 7th degrees. Off of our “C Minor” scale this winds up being the notes of; “Eb,” “Ab,” and “Bb.” Now, that we understand these notes we can plug-in the chord types that exist on each scale step as well.

Now that we’ve established each tonality operating off of the same tonic note, (in this case we’ve established keys of “C Major and C Minor”). We can next move forward to begin building practice progressions that borrow and integrate chords from each tonality so that they’re applied within the same progression.

Let’s start with building an example progression that’s based in the key of “C Major” but it will borrow (Pitch Axis) on chords from “C Minor.”

Example Jam #1). Pitch Axis from "C Major"

In the above progression the “C” chord is our “I-(tonic) Chord.” The “G Major” is our keys, “V-Chord.” The “F major” is this keys “IV-chord.”

However, that “Fm” chord is a borrowed chord called an “IV-Minor” and it is from the key of, “C Minor.” So is that “Bb Major.” It’s the “flat-VII-major” borrowed from the key of “C Minor.”

As you can tell, applying these parallel running chord changes can make for some great chord movements and some really cool harmonies.

But, we’re not done yet, because this same principle can also be approached from the perspective of a Minor key as well. Let’s jam out on another chord progression, but this time we’ll jam things out off of the key of, “C Minor.”

Example Jam #2). Pitch Axis from "C Minor"

The, “Cm” chord is our “I-(tonic) Chord.” The “Ab Major” is our keys, “VI-Chord.” The “Bb major” is this keys “VII-chord.” But, that “F major” chord is a borrowed chord of “IV-Major” from the key of “C Major.”

The, “D Minor.” It’s the “II-minor” chord also borrowed from the key of “C Major.” And, there’s more borrowed harmony happening off of that “G Major.” It’s the “V-Major” chord and it’s also on loan from the key of, “C Major.”

There will be music that you’ll come across in your own jams and during your band rehearsals will include these types of unique borrowed chord harmonies. And, if you’re unfamiliar with them, it’s guaranteed that these chord moves will quite likely cause you confusion.

However, by simply putting in just a little time during your practice day (building a few progressions like these), you’re going to help yourself become a lot more familiar with  borrowed chord movements.

That study and awareness will not only help you become a better more well-rounded musician, but you’ll also be able to improve your ear. A better ear will help you start hearing common chord changes much better than as if you never studied these parallel key harmonies.

Also, keep in mind that the way we all get better as musicians and as guitar players is by challenging yourself with new melodic and new harmonic directions. This exercise is perfect for doing that.

Hey, thanks for joining me, If you'd like to Find Out What You Should Learn Next on Guitar - take a look at the courses over on my website at

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