The I – VImi – IV – V Progression

[jtab phrase=”C / Am / F / G”]

This is a very common progression. It is in a lot of R&B from the 1960s. It also made its way into huge pop songs from the 1980s (a la Every Breat You Take, by the Police).

The Roman Numeral Analysis would read:


The Chord Scales you would use to be totally “in” would be:

I = C Ionian
VImi = A Aeolian
IV = F Lydian
V = G Mixolydian

Of course, you can do some Modal Interchange stuff for it to sound very interesting. For example, you could substitute F Mixolydian for the IV chord. This makes it seem more blue to me.

Some exercises:

  • Record Rhythm Section chords, bass, drums, etc. then practice improvising over this recording
  • Be able to play in all key signatures. Try cycle 5, or cycle 4 Root Motion


Chris Miller Publishing & Consultation