Country Chord Progressions


4 Steps to Learning How to Play Any Song on the Piano

1. Determining the melody - Melodies determine what chords will be played. If you can use your ear to figure out what notes are being played in the melody, you are 1/4 on your way to learning a song! More resources on learning how to determine melodies

2.Harmonizing the melody - Once you have figured out the melody (using some of my techniques on the resource page), it is time to harmonize it. This is simply choosing various chords to accompany the melody. There are several techniques and tricks to doing this. More resources on learning how to harmonize melodies

3. Altering Chords - This is the best part! Now that you have strategically figured out the melody to a song and have harmonized it, altering your chords to produce certain sounds is the next step. If you were playing gospel music, you would alter your chords differently than if you were playing classical or country music. More resources on altering chords

4. Listening - After you have determined the melody, harmonized the melody, and altered some of your chords, there are various techniques you can use to make sure that your song sounds right. More resources on listening techniques

I personally recommend "The Secrets to Playing Piano By Ear" 300-pg Course and through my relationship with Jermaine (the author of this course), I've been able to get him to throw in a few bonus items (3 additional piano software programs). He has taught literally thousands of musicians how to play the piano by ear. If you understood just half of what he discussed above, you'll definitely benefit from his 300-pg course. Click here to learn the secrets to playing absolutely any song on the piano in virtually minutes! I highly recommend it.

Country chord progressions are not really all that different from the basic chord progressions you would find in Rock, and most popular music..

From Hank Williams Sr. to The Zac Brown Band country music has changed its sound but the basic country chord progressions stay the same and are not all that different from basic "pop" progressions.

For the well rounded keyboard player you will be using the same common chord progressions found in other styles of music.

Only the stylistic country piano "fills" and "licks" will turn a common pop progression into one that has a country feel.

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For the most part a great many country songs will use the basic I-IV-V progression with those chords being in some order depending on the song.

There are literaly thousands of county songs many of them famous that used only those three chords.

In the key of G the chords would be G, C and D major. G major is a popular key for country as it suits guitars and banjos and fiddels as well.

I am currently playing for a friend that is a country songwriter and a good many of his songs are in the Key of G.

As well as the I-IV and V chord you will also see both the ii (minor) and the vi (minor) chord used in country chord progressions. In the Key of G those would be A minor and E minor.

You will not find many (if any) chord extensions in country chord progressions. That means not many 7ths except maybe the V chord which would be D7 in the key of G. No 9th's, 11th's or 13th's.

Occasionally you will find a II7 chord. In G that would be A7 going to the V chord D7.

One of the most Famous names at least in early country music was Hank Williams Sr. He more or less brought country music into the fore front from about 1949 to 1953

Many of Hanks biggest hits used very simple 3 and 4 chord progressions.

Here are the changes for "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" (see, the titles are important too ). It's in 3/4 (waltz) time:


|E / / |E / / |E / / |E / / |
|E / / |E / / |E / / |E / / |
|A / / |A / / |E / / |E / / |
|E / / |B7 / / |E / / |E / / |

And here's "Hey Good Lookin'", in jaunty 4/4 swing feel:

|C / / / |C / / / |C / / / |C / / / |
|F / / / |G / / / |C / / / |C / / / |

|C / / / |C / / / |C / / / |C / / / |
|F / / / |G / / / |C / / / |C / / / |

|F / / / |C / / / |F / / / |C / / / |
|F / / / |C / / / |D7 / / / |G7 / / / |

|C / / / |C / / / |C / / / |C / / / |
|F / / / |G / / / |C / / / |C / / / |

The D chord in the bridge (middle section) is an example of the "major II" I mentioned, it functions as a "secondary dominant" or the V7 of the V chord in the key of C.


Otherwise these are all I-IV-V (major chord) sequences, in keys of E and C respectively. (Hank did use minor chords, but he tended to base whole songs around them, rather than insert them in major key songs.)

Another country music legend that has spanned the decades is "Willie Nelson".

Willie had many country hits that crossed over on to the pop charts such as "On the Road Again" and "Always on My Mind" both of which were huge hits.

While "On the Road Again" used only the I - IV and V chords, the song "Always on My mind" was a bit more complex.

Notice that Willie uses the ii, iii, and vi minor chords as well as II7 and several slash chords that create a descending bass line in the bridge which is similar to the verse in Billy Joel's "Piano Man" demonstrated in the video on the slash chords.

Same chord progression, totally different genre of music!!

Best Home Study for "Ear Players"

After checking out dozens of home study courses that teach you to play by ear and focus on chord progressions I am convinced that the folks at Hear and Play have the best, most well rounded program available for just about all styles of music from Gospel to Jazz. Read my review or visit Hear and Play for more information.

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If you have any questions, suggestions, or ideas for future lessons feel free to Contact Me.

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