How to Play a I–vi–IV–viidim–V7–I Progression in A Major | Chord by Chord


Welcome to the latest installment of Chord by Chord, a series designed to build your understanding of harmony and the fretboard. In the previous lesson you worked on the I–vi–IV–V7–I in the key of A major. In this lesson, you’ll learn a similar progression, adding the viidim chord in between the IV and the V7.

The Work

If you have been following along with these lessons, you should already be familiar with the I, vi, IV, and V7 chords, so for the viidim (G#dim) chord, just start on the seventh note (G#) of the A major scale, as shown in Example 1, and then add the notes B and D (Example 2).

Example 3 gives us the I–vi–IV–viidim–V7–I in A using open chords, with the exception of an F#m barre shape in second position. Note that the notes in a G#dim chord (G# B D) happen to be the same as the top three notes in the E7 chord (E G# B D). To play the progression entirely with barre chords, see Example 4.

Examples 5 and 6 show the progression with compact voicings on the top three strings. (Note that the video shows an alternate shape for the G#dim chord.) Here are some tips for efficiently moving between the chords: In Ex. 5, keep the A chord shape held down and add your third finger to string 2, fret 7, to get the the F#m chord. Likewise, in Ex. 6, maintain the A fingering and add your third finger to string 3, fret 11, for the F#m.

The Result

You should now know a variety of ways to play a I–vi–IV–viidim–V7–I in the key of A major. Try strumming or fingerpicking the progression until the next lesson, when we’ll finish our exploration of chord progressions.

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