Songs that use Line Cliché chord progressions

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A Cliché is a type of chord development where we have a chord where either the highest or lowest voice is climbing or coming down by semitones whilst the rest of the chord is fixed. It is an extremely common strategy in jazz music but has also been used extensively in pop and rock music too.

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0:00 What is a Cliché?
1:09 Examples.
4:42 Minor Major .
6:17 When did it end up being a "cliché"?
7:48 Ascending line clichés.
8:48 James Bond.
9:35 Hey Bulldog.
10:14 Increased .
10:37 How do we identify the ?
12:28 Phil Buckle.
13:14 the longest line cliché ever!

Songs that use Line Cliché chord progressions

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30 Comments

  1. Could you do a video about trends in song structure. It seems The Beatles would mostly write songs in AABA but that quickly went out of fashion to an ABABCB and hasn’t changed. When did that happen and why?

    1. That’s actually a really interesting video topic, I’d like to see that

  2. No joke this is creepy. About 15min ago I just looked up the chords for “For once in my life” by Stevie wonder and basically the whole song is made of line cliches and I had no idea that was a thing until you posted this about 10min later….how does this kind of stuff happen??

  3. “Ladies of the Road” by King Crimson has a great line cliche in the bridge section. It’s an obvious Beatles homage. I didn’t know there was a name for this sequence. Thanks for the vid., David.

  4. You should check “O Que Será” by Chico Buarque. The harmony is based on various line clichès in sequence.

  5. You’ve done it again. You’ve taken a music topic and explained it so well that I feel like I’ve known it all along. Your teaching style, the structure of your videos, the examples you use, all come together to completely transfer knowledge to your audience. It’s quite uncanny how well this works. Keep up the great work!

  6. I used a line cliché in one of my songs: Fm – E7(#5) (#9) – Ab6/Eb – Dm7(b5) – Dbmaj7 – C7 to cadence back to Fm. And I do so basically arpeggiating the chords with the right hand at the piano (turned into a harpsichord) while the left hand just plays the roots, similar to the George Harrison example

    1. @Keith Marshall I still haven’t released it. It will take some other time

  7. I really enjoy this motion. The perpetual descending cliche at the end is one of my favorites that you’ve done.

    1. Einaudi does that. Ud like his stuff if u like libe clichés. The last part kinda reminds me of the end theme tune of the series” incredible hulk”

  8. Now THAT was a line cliche!! Loved the ending as well as the entire video, David….plus I learned what that descending sound is referred to in music so thanks for that, too!

  9. Es un recurso que he usado algunas veces en mis canciones,solo hay que darle las matices correctas para que no suene repetitivo

  10. A descending “line cliche” starting from b minor can be heard in Dylan’s “Ballad of a Thin Man”. An ascending “line cliche”, this time beginning with a G major chord, can be enjoyed listening to The Dave Clark Five’s “Because”.

  11. “Don’t Rain on My Parade” from Funny Girl has both an ascending and descending line cliche on the 5th of the chord

  12. There’s an actual name for this progression! 🤯 Had already been familiar with the ascending line from a major chord just by practicing augmentation, but stumbled across the descending line cliché a few months ago while messing around on the piano. Even incorporated it into something I’m writing — I start on Abm, then descend stepwise to F, resolving on Emaj7. It’s beautiful and while playing it I knew I’d heard it in songs/compositions before. Pretty sure another example (or slight variation) is from “Home Sweet Home” by Mötley Crue.

  13. The Line Cliché you had performed made me think of an assassin posing as a doctor who delivered a poison to a bedridden patient through an IV. He then observed with detached interest as his victim struggles for his life. The killer’s face stayed motionless as the EEG beeps started to sound more and more frantic. It was only when the beeping steadied when the assassin turned towards his soundless exit.

  14. I can’t listen to the first three chords of the descending line cliche without hearing Pink Floyd’s “Nobody Home” in my head being played over top of it

  15. When I was a kid the song “Feelings” by Albert Morris was played so often it became a cliché itself. You couldn’t play a minor key line cliché without someone breaking out into a parody.

  16. It’s only 3 notes instead of four (and not a perfect strict one), but if you want to introduce any zoomer to line clichés, you only need to play them 4 notes for them to recognize a song with one – D, D, D an octave up, and then the A below that.
    The root notes of that song’s chord progression are [D | C | B | Bb, C] repeat – and that C B Bb is a line cliché!

    And yes, it’s Megalovania.

  17. Wow, it’s an awesome resource! In the end, when David plays the piano using line cliche, I was blown away by how he handles the melodies. With one chord, he adds a melodic line that blends perfectly, and then sets up the melody for the next chord, giving it a meaning that helps connect those chords or structures. It’s all about tension and resolution stuff? It would be cool to delve into that melodic topic! 👐🏻

  18. I’ve done something like this with one of my own songs I called “This Is Now” and the main guitar riff was based off of Am, F and D7 triads with only the highest strings moving up (E, F, F#), which seemed to really work well for the song

  19. Thank you David. Another outstanding lesson well taught. There was even a Pink Floyd song or two in there.

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