Today’s lesson is an easy beginner chord progression in the key of C major. This exercise uses three open chord positions shown below.
In the key of C major these three chords are the I, ii and V. In music, Roman numerals are used to denote chords by their relative position in a key.
- The first chord, also called the root, gives the key its name and is denoted by the Roman numeral I. The capital ‘I’ indicates that the chord is major.
- The second chord in the key of C major is D minor. It is denoted by a Roman numeral ii; the small letters indicate the minor nature of the chord.
- G major is the fifth chord in the key of C and it is denoted by the Roman numeral V.
The Roman numerals allow progressions to be described in a way that is independent of the actual key. You just substitute in the appropriate chords for whatever key you’re playing in.
The I, ii and V are often found together and the V is most often followed by a return to the I chord. The exercise below shows a I-ii-V-I progression in the key of C for you to practice.