Combining the Major, Secondary Dominant, and Parallel Minor chords is a great way to add more variety and color to your chord progressions.
The chords in the tables below are in the key of C. Use the roman numerals to transpose the chords to any key.
Table of Contents
Full Reference Table
The Major scale is your starting point and foundation.
If you need to review the seven modes that make up the Major Scale, start with this modes lesson by legendary guitarist Frank Gambale.
Example Major Chord Progressions
- I – IV – V – I (C, F, G, C)
- vi – IV – ii – V (A-, F, D-, G)
- I – vi – IV – V (C, A-, F, G)
The Secondary Dominant is a 5th above the respective chord. It’s referred to as the 5 chord. For example, A7 is the 5 chord of the 2 chord, D-. The symbol is written as: V/ii
The Secondary Dominant can be played as either a Major chord or a Dominant 7 chord.
My circle of 5ths lesson can help with memorizing which note is the 5th above another note.
Example Major Chord Progressions with Secondary Dominant
- I – V/vi – IV – iv (C, E, F, F-) *note the F- is a Parallel Minor chord
- I – V/IV, IV – V – I (C, C7, F, G, C)
- I – V/ii, iii – V (C, A, E-, G7)
Parallel Minor Chords
The Parallel Minor is built of the tonic (C in this case) and a minor scale (Aeolian). The C Aeolian scale is: C, D, E♭, F, G, A♭, B♭.
Taking chords from the Parallel Minor is a great way to spruce up your Major chord progressions. They are also effective in adding resolutions to your chord progressions, for example:
- ♭iii to I (E♭, C)
- ♭vii to I (B♭, C)
- ♭vi to I (A♭, C)
Example Parallel Minor Chord Progressions
- I – v – IV – I (C, G-, F, C)
- I – v – ♭vi – (C, G-, A♭, B♭)
- I – V/ii, ii, ♭vii, V (C, A, D-, B♭, G7)