5 songs with unusual chord progressions

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0:00 Intro.
0:45 "Subterranean Homesick Alien" by Radiohead.
2:19 "Michelle" by The Beatles.
5:20 "Mrs. Robinson" by Simon & Garfunkel.
8:43 "Sir Duke" by Stevie Marvel.
10:47 "Light My Fire" by The Doors.

5 songs with unusual

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    1. Well they’re the kings of chord progressions, I suppose he did the right thing

    2. @Erik Hamer it wasn’t a diss, I’m the biggest radiohead fan and I used to love the Beatles still do sort of so ye

    3. at first i though it was annoying about him..but he grew on me and now its his mark! <3 stay unique!

  1. Chord progressions are some of the most beautiful song elements to play around with, trying to find that unique but catchy progressions that carry a song and making it memorable

    1. Push doesn’t hurt, but it helps if you start with a good song and marketable face/voice and a memorable hook

    2. @Adam I agree, most of the recent mainstream song writers/singers follow this trend that seems to work wonderfully for them

    3. @CherrySunburst at least you still have a chord progression, mine just sits in drafts waiting for me to finish them

    4. ​@Roasting Nerd only losers follow trends. real artists, inovators make trends.

  2. If I wanted to read some books about music theory, chords progressions, all the different types of scales and how they work and feel what books would you suggest? Because I played piano for years and started to write my own songs even thanks to your videos that made me discover the most beautiful part of music in my opinion: the theory behind it. It’s just so fun but I’m ina period of crisis and I haven’t played nor written in months and I believe that maybe starting to read something about this arguments that I love so much may help me starting to appreciate playing more (even tho I’m starting to doubt that and that makes me so sad)

    1. @Vic Morrison I know and I would want to so bad but I really can’t do it. My passion is starting to fade away because of several things that I won’t tell you cause I don’t want to bore you and I’m literally feeling sick because of that and I really don’t feel like practicing without a reason rn. That’s why I’m searching a reason to start doing exactly that

    2. Every artist goes through multiple stages of writers block, totally normal. Finding your own way through it is part of the journey.

      Learning others’ songs and attuning to your internal voice (audiation) are things that can help. I’d suggest finding a way to loop progressions (yours or others’) to be able to mess around with melody in them. Map out chords like these videos and break down all the notes in them.

      Just some alternative ideas to aid in your reading/study!

    3. @Greg H more than a writer block it’s more like I’m starting to realize that maybe I’m not made for this art. I leave in a small city full of EXTRAORDINARY young players, composers and teachers. They’re not famous worldwide or things like that of course and that’s exactly the point. We’re people of the same age and I’m literally nothing compared to them and if they’re not succeeding how can I? I’m starting to understand that this is a job for a person in a million and I’m simply not that person. As I said this literally made me sick because seeing my passion fading away like this without seeing an escape is breaking me inside. That’s kinda the point, very simplified and shortened. Sorry if I wrote this long message to you but I probably just needed to tell this to somebody

  3. I always thought the beach Boys had some crazy chord progressions. One of my favorites is, The Warmth Of The Sun.

    1. @pajordan Was just about to say this. Cabinessence and Don’t Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder) are also extremely weird. Pet Sounds in general is too, especially the title track.

    2. @Daniel Plainview I’m so in love with “don’t talk'” progression! The song is also super fun and cool for playing on piano

  4. Part of “The Song Remains the Same” by Led Zeppelin also does the tritone chord move when it goes from C to F# (similar to the Radiohead example). Thanks for another great video!

    1. So does In The Flowers by Animal Collective, and also The Great Gig In The Sky by Pink Floyd btw.

  5. There’s a beautiful live version of Light My Fire from ‘ Alive She Cried’ where Robbie Krieger incorporates ‘Eleanor Rigby’ into his great lead break.
    Thank you for another super video.

  6. Thank you for talking about Subterranean Homesick Alien, those first 3 chords have always fascinated me and they truly do sound like the soundtrack to an alien making contact with our planet

    1. I very often wonder how much George Martin influence was on many of these kind of songs.

    2. @P_ Mouse In chord progressions, his influence was zero. He helped form arrangements and translate their ideas into orchestral work or ease out vocal harmonies, but the chords and basic melodies were all 100% Beatles. Just because the chord is unusual or sophisticated doesn’t mean the Beatles didn’t write it. Paul could’ve just strike his guitar with his hand, heard a funny chord and wrote it in. If you watch McCartney 3,2,1 he says when he’s talking about Michelle, that he still doesn’t know which chord it actually was, though he suspects it has something to do with b7. Also, Martin would have gone with the much smoother bflatm7 chord, not incorporating the dissonance. The unusual 2d chord which I don’t even bother to write in Michelle’s progression most likely was an accident, or Paul thought it was another chord and wasn’t aware of it’s complexity. But Martin never was involved with chords.

    3. @Tyrannosaurus Zeppelin I recently saw an interview or video about George Martin (forgot exactly were, trying to find it right now), were they strongly suggested that he actually did have a say on chords and melodies for certain songs. Not like on a major way, but more like to polish things out or give some ideas and suggestions.

    4. @P_ Mouse In that case wouldn’t Martin have smoothed out the dissonance in the chord? Anyway, you do realise that McCartney wrote the melody for Michelle years before they met Martin, don’t you?

  7. I think of Light My Fire switching between A Dorian and A Mixolydian on those two chords… modes which are only one note different from one another. Then the chorus in D Ionian has the same notes as A mixolydian.🔥

  8. Great examples! I think the most unusual chord progressions from Radiohead also include Knives Out and Tinker Tailor. The Beatles’ Strawberry Fields is also kind of kind of bonkers in the chorus.

    I don’t know if you’ve ever listened to Boards of Canada, but they also have a ton of unusual chord progressions, especially on Alpha and Omega or Corsair.

  9. “Welcome to Japan” by The Strokes also goes from D minor to Ab major (then to G minor to C major), and it sounds so cool, also cuz of the syncopation on it and everything.

    1. So many strokes songs have unexpected chord changes. Julian is a genius

    1. Seriously though, great video as usual. Interestingly I think one of the most unusual Beatles’ chord progressions is from the chorus of Sexy Sadie (G F# C D) which is directly quoted by Radiohead in the coda to Karma Police, just offset by two bars (C D G F#).

  10. Love these explanations so much. This analysis makes Mrs. Robinson even more amazing, and illustrates what a great artist Paul Simon is.

  11. You mentioning the Doors reminded me of working out the chords to Love’s “Old Man” (one of Bryan MacLean’s contributions) when I was younger. Wish I had written them down…strange song.

  12. Kate Bush’s music is also full of many interesting chord progressions, Wuthering Heights being probably the most famous example

  13. Those diminished 7 chords look different on piano, but on guitar they are quite common, and extremely easy to play by just shifting the same shape up a couple of frets. The RHCP are a good example of this.

  14. I wanted that jam at the end to go on and on and on… beautiful playing, thank you

  15. Great video. I feel like this is a bit of a lost art in pop music. I’m curious if anyone is aware of any modern popular songs that have unusual chord progressions?

  16. I like the fact that you’ve covered so much basic music stuff that now you’re showing more complex and interesting musical ideas.

  17. You should listen to “Bajan” by Spinetta, one of the most famous rock songwriters in Spanish. He was known for using some peculiar chord progressions and arrange beautiful melodies over them, making everything “easy to be sung” for his immense audience

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