DulciTheory #10: Chord Progressions in G and A: Wrapping Up


In the last few issues we have been dealing with playing in the Key of G while tuned D-A-D. This time we'll throw some chord progressions in G at you, so you can apply your newfound knowledge.

And while we're at it, we might as well do the same for the Key of A, right? Once you get used to porting chord structures lock-stock-and-barrel all around the place -- or just up a whole step in this case -- it will be like second nature to play in several different keys without re-tuning.

The other tidbit I'll leave you with is a brief list of exercises and activities to test your knowledge and make sure that you understand this stuff well enough to really use it and apply it in real life.




One of the best projects for you at this point is simply to play many of the tunes your are familiar with in D -- up in G while you are tuned D-A-D. This is great practice, because it reinforces the structural integrity of the whole I-IV-V7 thing, and gets you thinking in chord shapes.

  • --> Start out with simple tunes with two or three chords and progress onward to tunes with minor chords and secondary dominants.
  • --> It might help you to keep the CONSTANT I-IV-V7 in mind along with the VARIABLE chord names for a particular key. I will give some hints at this in the examples to remind you.
  • --> If you've already put some time and effort into these transposing ativities, you might as well go the extra mile and find out what is *unique* to G. In other words, I'll bet you can find some cool things to do working out of G while tuned D-A-D -- that you cannot do in the familiar key of D.

Skip To My Lou

I                         V7           
G  /  /  /  |/  /  /  /  |D7 /  /  /  |/  /  /  /  | 

I                         V7           I
G  /  /  /  |/  /  /  /  |D7 /  /  /  |G  /  /  /  ||

hint: if you're on the same chord for a bunch of measures, there's no reason why you have to use the same chord voicing for the whole time, right? Wouldn't it be neat to use your fingerboard surveys that you've worked so hard to build... to pull out alternative voicings of the same chord?

Bile Dem Cabbage

I            IV           I            V7
G  /  /  /  |C  /  /  /  |G  /  /  /  |D7 /  /  /  | 

I            IV           I     V7     I
G  /  /  /  |C  /  /  /  |G  /  D7 /  |G  /  /  /  ||

Bile Dem Cabbage: some cool ideas unique to G:

I            IV           I            V7 **        
G  /  /  /   C* /  /  /   G  /  /  /   D7 /  /  /   

I            IV           I     V7      I
G  /  /  /   C  /  /  /   G  /  D7  /   G  /  /  /    

* since we're leaving the melody string D open throughout this exercise, we run into some colorful chords like this "Cadd9" chord. This is just like adding a D or 9th to a C Major Triad:

C - E - G - D
1 - 3 - 5 - 9

This chord is different than C9, which is a "dominant 9th" chord, built on the foundation of a domininant 7th:


C - E - G - Bb
1 - 3 - 5 - b7


C - E - G - Bb - D
1 - 3 - 5 - b7 - 9

** this is a G chord used as a passing chord to get from the D7 on beat 1 to the D on beat 3 of the measure. I didn't label it as a G chord above the measure, because it doesn't CHANGE the overall harmony to G: it is used on a weak beat of the measure to simply pass between two voicings of the main harmony in this measure (D7 or V7). This comes under the heading of HARMONIC RHYTHM, and you should try to wrap your brain around it some. Hymns have a *fast* harmonic rhythm, as do jazz versions of 12-bar blues: there are sometimes as many as 4 changes to the measure! OUCH!! Most folk music has a very slow harmonic rhythm, with the same chord lasting for 2, 3, or 4 measures.

The Ash Grove


I            vi           ii           V7           
G   /   /    Em  /   /    Am  /   /    D7  /   /    

I            IV           V            I
G   /   /    C   /   /    D   /   /    G   /   /    


I                         V                         
G   /   /    /   /   /    D   /   /    /   /   /    

vi                        V7/V*        V       V7   
Em  /   /    /   /   /    A7  /   /    D   /   D7   

* yup! A secondary dominant -- You might want to go back to DulciTheory #1 through #3 for some more explanation on these, and how knowing what accidentals you're up against will help you situate a tune in the best place on the fingerboard and Key. If you get even more curious about these critters, you might try taking some of my theory-on-the-web links I had in one of the issues from last year.


Bile Dem Cabbage

I            IV           I            V7
A  /  /  /  |D  /  /  /  |A  /  /  /  |E7 /  /  /  | 

I            IV           I     V7     I
A  /  /  /  |D  /  /  /  |A  /  E7 /  |A  /  /  /  ||

Now....I could just paste all the TAB from G above to A here, and simply change the TAB and chord shapes, but that would deprive YOU of a valuable learning opportunity.

So, to get the most out of this exercise, keep in mind the cool things you can do in A that are *unique* to the "Key of A out of D-A-D tuning" situation. They will be different than the ones I found in G, but they will still be cool.

hint-hint: How many amazing and "different" A chords can you find by leaving the middle string A open, while fretting the melody and bass strings?



Try playing the following chord progressions in the Keys of D, G, and A while tuned D-A-D:

1.) I - vi - IV - V7

2.) I - vi - ii - V7

3.) iii - vi - ii - V7

4.) I - V7 - vi - ii - iii - vi
            (i  - iv -  v  -  i) = the new minor key if you let
                                   vi = i                       


  • 1.) Try to think of a tune that you arranged in the Key of D for D-A-D tuning. Can you think of any chords you had trouble finding, or voicings that you didn't like? Try this tune in G or A out of D-A-D, and see what happens -- you might be amazed.
  • 2.) Try a standard 12-bar blues in D -- using D7, G, and A7 for the basic chords. Then try the same progression in A -- using A7, D7, and E7. (maybe you can infer from these chords alone the extra possibilities available in A?)
  • 3.) If you go to folk music jams and sing-alongs, you've probably noticed that they play a lot in G, and probably some in A too. Of course you can always use your trusty capo to get to these keys, but you'll probably have to retune slightly if you do -- something there's never really time for in a jam. So try chording these tunes directly in D-A-D as we've been doing here.