Tip #177 – The Backdoor Progression

This is going to be a short post – but nonetheless, an interesting one.

For those that already know this chord progression, feel free to skip this, but here is something new I learned from a while ago.

In a lot of jazz, Broadway, and some rock/pop music, we have the classic ii – V7 – I progression. It is a simple way to set-up a return back to the tonic.

Now, imagine the tonic as the house and we walked the usual path to the front door with the ii – V7. Sounds, good, but what if we wanted a little surprise that still reaches the same destination? We use the backdoor progression:

iv – bVII7 – I

This is constructed in the same way as the ii – V7 – I, as you can see by shared common tones and interval distances.

Try it out and see how you think of it. Maybe it can work well in one of your next compositions.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read! Feel free to comment, share, and subscribe for more daily tips below! Till next time.

Author: Bryan M. Waring

Bryan Waring is a graduate of USM's School of Music with a B.M. in Performance – Composition and is now attending Belmont University for a M.M. in Commercial Media – Composition & Arranging. During his time at USM, he studied violin with Dino Liva and composition with Dr. Daniel Sonenberg, as well as has premiered several pieces during the semiannual Composer's Ensemble concert series. In 2017, Bryan was a writer for the original musical theater work of "Molded By The Flow," directed by Paul Dresher and Rinde Eckert. Outside of school, Bryan has been involved with writing music for videogame developers at Portland's CI2 Lab, collaborating with the King Tide Party, and studying with Larry Groupé (Straw Dogs) in San Diego. Now living in Nashville. Along with composing, Bryan teaches music to children, receiving the Master Teacher Award for his work at ESF Camps; and does audio engineering for live ensembles. Besides talents in music, Bryan is a team-player in any competitive work environment; equipped with skills in leadership, organization, mathematics, creativity, communication, and managing. On the side, Bryan has worked as a model for several skilled artists in the New England area. Among his other accomplishments include obtaining the rank of Eagle Scout in April 2013 with a project of building a side parking area with guide rails for Webb Mountain Park in Monroe, CT.

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