Guitar Chord Progression #20

Today’s progression makes use of what is often referred to in music theory as a “backdoor cadence”. It’s about resolving your progression back to the major tonic, but via a VII subtonic, which replaces the standard vii diminished leading chord in the diatonic scale.

The VII chord is positioned a whole step (equivalent of two frets) down from the tonic chord. As you’ll hear in the example below, I enhance this “backdoor” tension-resolution by using a dominant 9th chord with a flat 5th, although even just a regular dominant 7th will give it the depth it needs. The result is a rather psychedelic and distant ambiguity.

Open D major

Open D major

Open E minor 7 (Em7)

Open E minor 7 (Em7)

D major with F# bass note (D/F#)

D major with F# bass note (D/F#)

G minor barre chord (Gm)

G minor barre chord (Gm)

C dominant 9 flat 5 (C9b5)

C dominant 9 flat 5 (C9b5)

A common way to lead in to this backdoor VII chord is through a minor iv chord. For a less tragic sound though, stick to the standard major IV chord. Or, to blues it up a little, use an IV7 chord.

The flat 5th VII7 chord is used a lot in jazz and blues, but there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be strived for in other genres and styles. A good alternative to your standard V – I or vii – I resolution.

Try out different combinations – you don’t necessarily have to resolve from the VII chord. For example – D  Gm  C9  Em7  D – there, the back door is left open for the ii chord (Em7 in this example)!


3 Responses to Guitar Chord Progression #20

  1. RIchard says:

    Are the .mp3’s of the chord progressions in the library available somewhere for downloading? If not, could they be made available?

    • fretjam says:

      Yes, you can download the tracks by pasting the following address into your URL bar and replacing the number before .mp3 with the corresponding progression number. E.g. for #20…

      [audio src="" /]

  2. Adrien Johansson says:

    A lot of really cool stuff I stumbled on. Kinda esoteric, but definitely interesting, I’d love if you could possibly send me an e-mail with all of your articles condensed into one package to save for later.

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