Best chord progressions

How to play and compose with the ultimate progressions.

Time and again, throughout music history, the same few chord progressions crop up. Hit song after hit song, these progressions just sound ‘right’, and even though you’ve heard them before, they sound fresh in each song.

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Recycling success

The same few chord progressions underpin thousands of songs. How aren’t we bored of them by now? The answer lies in the detail. Supporting harmonies, rhythms, instrument choice, and of course the melodies and hooks that ride the chords. These aspects all help shape a song and distract us from the familiarity of the chord progression. It’s a system that works time and time again.

Captain Plugins’ chord generator tool Captain Chords helps you write your own chord progressions, and even ships with 68 of the best chord progressions ever as selectable presets! You can even transpose these progressions to different keys and scales.

Write chords faster with Captain Chords

  • Write your own chord progressions
  • Apply rhythms to your chords
  • Set your Key and Scale for the entire song
  • Explore different chords and discover your favorite combinations
  • Compose music and write your own songs
  • One touch plays 3 notes of the chords
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You might have noticed that when chords are written down, they are often written as Roman numerals ie I-ii-IV-V. This looks curious to the untrained eye, but is very useful. Musicians and composers can transpose chords to different keys and scales, while retaining the nature of the chord progression.

In Captain Chords, the 68 best chord progressions are all in numeral form, so whatever key and scale you’re in, you can use the chord progressions and know you’ve got a tried and trusted pattern to work with.


Top Ten

While all the preset progressions in Captain Chords are awesome, and have been taken from countless smash hit songs. we’ve whittled it down to the ten very best chord progressions.

These are guaranteed to please, and have been used in hundreds of smash-hit songs!

  • 10. vi-V-IV-V

    Starting on a vi is pretty unusual, but here it sounds great against the V-IV-V combination. Repeating the V chord reinforces the progression.

  • 9. IV-I6-ii

    A 3 chord progression here, which starts on the IV and adds a 6th to the root, before closing on a ii. This is highly unusual compared to the other top progressions, and yet sounds great. Perfect for songs which need a little tension.

  • 8. I-V6-vi-V

    The V6 chord adds a subtle tension to this otherwise natural sounding progression. It’s been used in over 200 hit songs!

  • 7. I-V-vi-iii-IV

    A twist on a classic. The addition of the iii chord slightly alters the character of this ‘awesome’ progression!

  • 6. i-III-VII-VI

    Bold, uplifting and carrying tons of emotional potential. We love the way the minor i chord sets up a powerful major trio of chords with a delicate beginning.

  • 5. i-V-vi-IV

    Another twist on a classic. Our number one progression, only this time it starts on a minor root chord. This lends it a familiar yet subtly different flavor.

  • 4. i-VII-III-VI

    Three major chords after a minor 1 – the second time that trick has been used in our top ten. This time the III chord adds even more drama and sets up a tasty resolution!

  • 3. I-vi-IV-V

    Nearly 150 hits use this epic progression, from Avril Lavigne to Leonard Cohen. It’s a progression that can be used in almost any style of song.

  • 2. I-IV-vi-V

    Another combination of extremely popular chords. Notice how many of the most commonly used progressions use different combinations of 1, 4, 5 and 6.

  • 1. I-V-vi-IV

    The ‘Axis of Awesome’ chord progression. This sequence is so famous it has its own Wikipedia page. It’s the most popular chord progression in all of pop music and has featured in hundreds of incredible songs!

Of course, choosing which chord progressions is highly subjective. These are our favorites, and backed up by hard data, too. These are some of the most commonly used progressions of all time, and for good reason.

There are loads more great chord progressions inside Captain Chords.

Try out different chord progressions at the touch of a button, and get inspired, today!

Find your own best chord progressions with Captain Plugins

Visit the official Chords homepage and see how it will help you explore music and write your own original productions.