This is a generalization – so that means that there are certainly more chord progressions found in the music of neo-soul than just this, but this is a good place to start.
Also, keep in mind that the chords in these examples are just the basic triads and seventh-chords, and not the expanded voices we talked about in a previous post. We will just be talking about root movement today.
What I have found interesting about neo-soul music, is that instead of where most pop music starts in the I chord and uses the V7 chord at the end of a repeated section to get back to the I chord in the beginning, neo-soul does the opposite:
Starting on the V7 or its variants give an instability to then resolve on the I chord on the weaker measure of the vamp. This keeps the motion rolling.
Then, there is the use of parallel motions (especially by minor chords) where the chord quality doesn’t change, but the root does:
Finally, a common neo-soul chord progression is movement by thirds. Music tends to follow the common circle-of-fifth, where the roots move by descending fifths. Moving by either ascending or descending thirds can give a neo-soul feel to your music:
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