What is the Most Common Chord in Music?

A chord is any group of notes played simultaneously; two-note chords are known as dyads while three-note ones are called triads.

A chord may be marked with musical symbols or abbreviations to indicate its quality; for instance, “o” and “dim”. Additionally, chords may contain additional notes such as those found in seventh chords.


If you know your major chords, there are a few staple progressions that appear across many songs. One such progression is the 1,5, minor 6, 4 progression that has been the backbone of hit after hit from Green Day’s “When I Come Around” to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin. This progression can be found everywhere from Green Day’s “When I Come Around” and Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin.

G, C and D major chord progression is another popular progression, though more challenging to play than its counterparts. You must bar all six strings except the third string with your index and middle fingers while barrering all six with your index finger for this chord – but once learned it can add great drama to any song!

Finally, try out the C, D, and E minor chord. Its shape resembles that of a D major chord but played half step lower for an effective contrast with major chords in songs. The C D E minor chord gives off an air of melancholy darkness that works especially well as an effective counterbalance to these major chords.


Johnny Cash, Amy Winehouse, Nirvana, Drake and Adele all use minor chord progressions in their popular songs to explore and express difficult emotions. It creates an atmospheric tone while prompting contemplation from listeners.

The vi-iii-vii progression is an often-found minor key progression, appearing in many popular songs and adding tension and emotion.

Tip: For an upbeat and exciting variation on this progression, an iv chord in this progression may be elevated into a major triad by adding an additional minor seventh interval above its root – creating what is known as a half diminished chord – this creates a major triad which can then be raised further to form a major triad with an additional minor seventh interval added on top – creating what is commonly known as an exciting half diminished chord that adds variety and zestful variation to this progression.

Utilizing chord progressions will enable you to learn the minor scale and develop an ear for hearing different minor key chord movements. Click any of the links above to hear these progressions in action; practice until you feel confident recognizing them regardless of key.


The dominant chord is one of the most frequent tension chords found within any key. Generally linked with its tonic (I), through a V or VII type progression that establishes a sense of resolution between these chords.

A dominant chord can be defined as a major triad with an added flat seventh chord. This creates a more unstable sound that tends to resolve back into its tonic note over time.

Altered dominants have many moving parts and can be tricky to understand and use musically, particularly due to the various voicing options which contain intervals such as b9, #9 and #11 (also present in other altered chords).


Suspended chords (also referred to as sus) are an invaluable asset in any musician’s repertoire, providing both dissonant dissonance and instability that add a different dimensionality to any song or chord progression.

Suspended chords are formed by replacing the third scale degree of regular chords with either a second or fourth degree; chords where this substitution takes place typically bear the abbreviation sus4 while those where their third scale degree has been replaced with second typically simply have “sus2”.

As their name implies, suspended chords create an uncertainty before eventually returning to the same harmony as its original chord. Suspended chords are an effective way to build tension and anticipation within songs; musicians such as Led Zeppelin and Prince have made great use of sus chords in their music to build tension and anticipation. Sus chords also serve as excellent transitional elements within compositions allowing listeners to move effortlessly between different sections of songs.