Master Chord Progression

You can master the chords around each scale shape!

These are the final exercises focusing on chords around the major scale (Ionian).

Every exercise below has a playlist with five positions per video. When you have played through all of these, your hands will think before your head!

In the master course, we combine these exercises with practising arpeggios at the same time. This speeds up the learning process.

The aim with all master exercises is to tie a spiders net of music theory together for your hands. The clearer the connection is between the chord – roman numeral – pentatonic – mode – arpeggio – chord extension, the better.

Here’s the first exercise, it moves backwards, down the scale.

Chords down the major scale

This is the same concept as when you practised the advanced chord progression exercises, we just go backwards instead, like this: I – VII – VI – V – IV -III – II – I.

It is absolutely vital that you know the location of every chord around every scale shape. By moving backwards like this you will connect more deeply with each position of the major scale and the seven chords around it.

Play through each shape to a click, pushing the BPM.

Chords through the cycle of 4th

This cycle of 4th exercise does not use only perfect 4th intervals. Between chord IV and VII we get a #4.

The full exercise reads: I – IV – VII – III – VI – II – V.

Call out the chord numbers as you go along. For maximum effect, sing each root note.

The cycle of 4th in songs

Both I ‘Will Survive’ and ‘Still Got The Blues’ use the full movement until back at the starting chord, chord VI.

If you have been practising and singing along at the same time, you can now try this: As you hear a new song for the first time, sing the root notes of the chords you hear, aiming to hear the position.

For example, if you are certain you hear the I chord and then a movement of a 4th up, then you would have to be on chord IV.

Similarly, if you hear chord VI and then move a 4th up, you are on chord II.

In full use, this will enable you to hear a song and work out the chords at first listen, without an instrument. To gain the ability to hear a chord’s position in the key is by far more useful than having perfect pitch!

You’ll discover more about chord movement and musical things that really matter when you take the master course.

Chords through the cycle of 3rd

Let’s take a look at how to play through all the chords around a major scale shape using the cycle of 3rd. This movement is very common in songs, for maximum effect, sing the root notes as you play the exercise.

The cycle of 3rd within the scale shape exercise reads I – III – V – VII – II – IV – VI. Notice how the third interval is sometimes minor, sometimes major.

Which chord is major and which is minor?

By noticing, if the chord you are moving from is minor or major you will find the next chord.

For example, moving from chord V to VII is a 3rd, from VI to I is a m3rd interval. These chords are also parallel minor and major.

They would have matching Minor Pentatonic and Major Pentatonic scales as well. You must see all these connections.

In the master course, we practise these exercises extensively.

Master chord progression exercise

This master exercise combines all previous exercises. When you can play this, the connection between the chord shape, roman numeral, major scale interval and mode, will be crystal clear.

The full master exercise reads:

I – II – III – IV – V – VI – VII (Up the scale)
I – VII – VI – V – IV – III – II (Down the scale)
I – IV – VII – III – VI – II – V (Cycle of 4ths)
I – III – V – VII – II – IV – VI (Cycle of 3rds)

For best results, sing along with the numbers in correct pitch.


The master chord progression exercises took you up, down, around the cycle of 4th and 3rd. This was then put together in one long exercise in the final master exercise.

When you can play as demonstrated in that last video lesson, you can move on to the mastering the modes and arpeggio exercises. All exercises are self-eliminating, when you can play them, you can stop practising them and move on.

For step by step instructions, more variations on these exercises and meticulously TABBED song examples, turn to the master guitar course.