Composition Learning & Teaching Music Theory

Tonal Harmony Flowcharts (Major & Minor)

By (heavily belated) popular demand here’s a stab at ‘common-practice’ chord progressions in major and now minor keys!

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6 replies on “Tonal Harmony Flowcharts (Major & Minor)”

The progression charts include a lot more information than all other similar charts i’ve seen. They include 5 types of cadences, more chord types: augmented 6, Neapolitan and secondary dominant chords. They also include the Aeolian Cadence and the Picardy (major tonic chord) for minor. A great ‘bird’s eye view of common progressions.
There are a few things I did notice.
In your book (Popular Music Harmony) it states “Any chord can jump to I (or IV or V). In the major chart, for example, only iii and vi go to IV and only ii, IV and vii go to V.
The chart also shows an arrow from the +6 going to the V6/4. Should that not be to the I6/4 (i.e. in addition to the V). Also, there are a number of chords that can approach the +6. (Similar comments apply to the N6). I suppose that would make the chart more complicated with the extra arrows. Perhaps this is why most charts don’t include the +6 and N6.

Hi! Many thanks for these charts! They are great tools for composing!! I was wondering where to find the following chord sequence in the minor chart: i – VI – VII – i. It is rather common but apparently it is not part of the scheme. Or I am missing anything?

Many thanks in advance for your feedback.


True! These are ‘common-practice’ (= ‘classical heritage’) type tonality. The Aeolian progression you describe would fit into modal and contemporary harmony language. The Bartok Pitch Axis lectures will reach it too…

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