Nov 29

Music in Western Civilization in 24 Seconds!

This short bass part (which in this instance you may recognize as the basis of Boogie Woogie) lasts only 24 seconds but is immediately recognizable to all of us. It contains the five main chord relationships upon which very much of all music in western civilization is based upon, from Gregorian chants to Rap.

Chordal relationships (based on notes of the scale) are notated with Roman numerals I to VII. A  song with one chordal relationship pattern sounds the same in any  key (e.g., A or C.) in which it is played. The chordal relationship pattern for this ‘Boogie Woogie’ pattern is I-IV-V.  There is a turnaround at the end introducing VI and II. This is basically a combination of the two most common contemporary patterns: I-IV-V (Twist and Shout and Amazing Grace) and I-VI-II-V-I (Blue Moon and Heart and Soul.) Here are some other songs almost completely based on only these five chords and their relationships:

Just about all Blues and New Orleans Jazz


We Are The World

Ebony and Ivory

Homeward Bound

Home on the Range

Don’t Fence Me In

Thunder Road

All That Heaven Will Allow – Springsteen

Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?

Bésame Mucho

Down By The River

Beethoven’s ‘Adieu to the Piano’

Beethoven’s ‘Rage Over A Lot Penny’

Under the Boardwalk

Amazing Grace

Blueberry Hill

Black Muddy River – Garcia

Bridge Over Troubled Waters

Candle in the Wind

Blowin in the Wind

Forever Young – Dylan

Every Breath You Take

God Bless America

Battle Hymn of the Republic

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

Jingle Bells

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Frosty the Snowman

Silent Night

Rock Around the Clock

Mozart Sonata in C major

Strauss waltzes

I Can’t Stop Loving You

I Got Rhythm

I’m Happy Just to Dance With You

Iko, Iko

The Women Are Smarter

My Old Kentucky Home

If Not For You

It Must Have Been The Roses

It’s Now or Never

Let It Be

My Old Kentucky Home

Only Love Can Break Your Heart

Pennies From Heaven

St. James Infirmary

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

That’s Life

The Red River Valley

The Yellow Rose of Texas

What A Wonderful World

When I’m 64

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?

Wouldn’t it Be Loverly?

You Are the Sunshine of My Life