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Section 9.8 The i–VII–VI–VII Progression

The \(\left.\text{i}\right.\)–\(\left.\text{VII}\right.\)–\(\left.\text{VI}\right.\)–\(\left.\text{VII}\right.\) (\(\left.\text{A}\text{m}\right.\)–\(\left.\text{G}\right.\)–\(\left.\text{F}\right.\)–\(\left.\text{G}\right.\)) progression is similar to the descending \(\hat{1}\) –♭\(\hat{7}\) –♭\(\hat{6}\) –\(\hat{5}\) bass line of the “Andalusian progression” (\(\left.\text{A}\text{m}\right.\)–\(\left.\text{G}\right.\)–\(\left.\text{F}\right.\)–\(\left.\text{E}\right.\)) in flamenco music, with the exception of the last bass note or chord.

Here are examples of the \(\left.\text{i}\right.\)–\(\left.\text{VII}\right.\)–\(\left.\text{VI}\right.\)–\(\left.\text{VII}\right.\) progression.

Figure 9.8.1. Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, “Stairway to Heaven” (chords and bass line only) (1970)
Figure 9.8.2. Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth, “Rolling In The Deep” (chords and bass line only) (2010)

The \(\left.\text{i}\right.\)–\(\left.\text{VII}\right.\)–\(\left.\text{VI}\right.\)–\(\left.\text{VII}\right.\) progression can also be rotated to become \(\left.\text{VI}\right.\)–\(\left.\text{VII}\right.\)–\(\left.\text{i}\right.\)–\(\left.\text{VII}\right.\).

Figure 9.8.3. The \(\left.\text{i}\right.\)–\(\left.\text{VII}\right.\)–\(\left.\text{VI}\right.\)–\(\left.\text{VII}\right.\) progression rotating to \(\left.\text{VI}\right.\)–\(\left.\text{VII}\right.\)–\(\left.\text{i}\right.\)–\(\left.\text{VII}\right.\)

In some cases, the fourth chord is eliminated. In that case, \(\left.\text{VI}\right.\)–\(\left.\text{VII}\right.\)–\(\left.\text{i}\right.\)–\(\left.\text{VII}\right.\) becomes \(\left.\text{VI}\right.\)–\(\left.\text{VII}\right.\)–\(\left.\text{i}\right.\)–\(\left.\text{i}\right.\), as in the following examples.

Figure 9.8.4. Christopher Bridges, Calvin Broadus, Johnny Mollings, Lenny Mollings, William Roberts II, “All I Do Is Win” (chords and bass line) (2010)
Figure 9.8.5. Philip Glass, Metamorphosis Two (1989)

The \(\left.\text{i}\right.\)–\(\left.\text{VII}\right.\)–\(\left.\text{VI}\right.\)–\(\left.\text{VII}\right.\) progression can also be thought of as being in a major key: \(\left.\text{vi}\right.\)–\(\left.\text{V}\right.\)–\(\left.\text{IV}\right.\)–\(\left.\text{V}\right.\).

Figure 9.8.6. The same progression viewed from minor and relative major

There are several more common harmonic progressions to explore in future chapters dealing with topics like secondary chords, mode mixture, the Neapolitan chord, augmented sixth chords, and jazz harmony.