Two chord progressions are very common. The Rolling Stone’s song “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” is a good example of this.
The Beatles “Lady Madonna” and “I’ll Cry Instead” are two more examples.
Two Chord Phrases
Sometimes two chords are used together as a phrase acting like a unit or riff rather than two separate chords.
Here is an example of a I-IV as in a Rhythm and Blues Style.
C to F rhythm and Blues Shuffle
I to vi Two Chord Progressions
This progression is the first half of the 50’s progression I vi IV V. It’s also used in a back and forth manner for lyrics in a song that match these notes in the chords.
50’s Doo Wop Era
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This can also be used as a base for a songs’ verse before going into the bridge or break.
Here is an example in C.
C to Aminor or I to vi chord change in C
This is played using these two chords.
Another version of this was made popular in the 50’s by Chuck Berry. That rhythm that he is known for is a I to vi change but played differently.
The roots for this comes from the Blues guitarists from the early 1900’s
Chuck Berry Music
Chuck Berry Song Book
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This way of playing it and variations are used in millions of songs.
Here are the chords. You only need to move the 4th finger.
The 3rd finger stays on the 4th and 5th string all the time. You may need to practice this a bit to get your 3rd finger laying flat.
You only play the 3 top strings and you can mute them slightly with the heel of your picking hand.
When you add an A or 6th to C or I chord you make a I6 or in this case a C6. A C6 has the same notes as an Am7 or vi7.
Why Play the Whole Chord?
The reason for fingering the whole chord is because you can add other things with this rhythm.
Here is an example of combining this with the rhythm and blues riff above.
A Combo rhythm of Chuck Berry and Rhythm and Blues
This is just a sample of what you can do with these. You can change them around, add notes, anything that sounds good and fits the music you’re playing.
A Must Know
Two Chord Progressions Rhythm
Here is one riff that you need for rock, blues and country guitar. It’s an offshoot of the above.
It’s a 4th finger stretcher so if you have trouble move the chord up the neck where the frets are closer together and work your way down as you gain some stretch.
Here are the chord forms for this.
The C6 goes back to the C and you start over again. This can also be done with the F chord form near the top of the page except you play these notes on the 5th string.
You can mute the 6th string the whole time, ignore the 6th string in the F.
More Two Chord Progressions
This is just an extension of the C to C6 guitar chord progressions above.
Here is what it sounds like.
More Chuck Berry Style in C
Here are the Chords
This one is a little finger stretcher too. Work it down the neck one fret at a time and have fun.
The ii-V Two Chord Progressions
This two chord progression is a good jamming chord progression.
A good song example of this is Santana’s “Evil Ways”. The only other chord is a VI7. This song can also be in the G minor melodic or harmonic scale as long as the Gm and C chords are triads.
Evil Ways mp3
Santana – Evil Ways Sheet Music (Opens New Window)
The chords for this song are Gm to C with a D7 as a quick turnaround chord.
Here is a quick listen.
A two five progression in F G minor to C
This is just back and forth. You just change quicker on the second one. Later on in the song you accent on the upstroke before going to D7
You might like the D7 in the 10th position better because you can get a nice long slide down to start again with the Gm to C. If you listen to the song you will know what I mean.
Another ii-V guitar chord progression.
Another song that only uses the ii-V progression is “Lowdown” written by Boz Scaggs and David Paich.
This song uses chord extensions a minor 9th for the ii chord and a 13th for the dominant chord.
This song is written in E flat.
You can choose which note to play on the 5th or 6th string of the Fm9 chord. One is the root the other is the 5th. I use the 5th(6th string) in the mp3.
Here’s a little listen
Two five progression in E flat with embellished chords
The possibilities of two chord progressions is endless. You don’t have to stay in one key. The chords can come from any major or minor scale.
The main thing is do they sound good together.
I’ve found that the closer together the notes are from the first to the second chord the smoother the sound is and the easier to play most of the time.
One More – Two Chord Progressions
One artist that comes to mind for funk is James Brown. I think he was the origin of funk with choppy rhythms.
James Brown Music
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Here is a good progression with a funky blues mood to it
Here are the chords in two positions. The E from the C chord goes to F and the B flat goes to A
This is an easy switch back and forth little progression. Here’s a sample, then you can make up your own rhythm for it
The first chord of the progression puts you in the key of F with a C tonal center, the 2nd chord puts you in the key of B flat
Your tonal center note C acts as home even though you are in the key of F. The F is acting as a IV chord which wants to resolve to I which is really V in the key of F
So even though your are in F it seems like your are in C doesn’t it? So change the B to a B flat in the C scale and you have the C mixolydian scale. Ahh… music theory.
C minor pentatonic and C minor blues scales can be be used too for improvising
C7 sharp 9 to F7th progression
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