Primary Chords

Chord Progressions I - IV - V7 - I

Primary Chords - Harmony and Theory: A Comprehensive Source for All Musicians (Musicians Institute) by Carl Schroeder and Keith Wyatt.

For a comprehensive, concise reference about primary chords, secondary chords & chord progressions, this book is a "MUST HAVE".

Here is part of a review of this book by Patrick D. Goonan ... The review is from: Harmony and Theory: A Comprehensive Source for All Musicians (Essential Concepts (Musicians Institute).

"...I absolutely love this book. It covers essential music theory is a very short space in a well-organized manner. More importantly, it emphasizes the concepts that are most important to a musician who wants to develop their practical skills at chord substitution, improvisation, voicing chords, etc..."

The "Primary" Chords in music are the three most commonly used chords - the I, IV, and V (or V7) chords. These chords are built on the first, fourth, and fifth degrees of a diatonic scale.


  • Tonic
  • Supertonic
  • Mediant
  • Subdominant
  • Dominant
  • Submediant
  • Leading Tone
scale degree names


  • I chord - Tonic
  • ii chord - Supertonic
  • iii chord - Mediant
  • IV chord - Subdominant
  • V chord - Dominant
  • vi chord - Submediant
  • vii chord - Leading Tone

Here are the Primary Chords in the key of C major:

primary chords in C

The following 4 examples use the same I-IV-I-V7-I chord progression; however, the voicing of each one is different. This is because the inversions in the right hand are different - but they are the same progression, I-IV-I-V7-I

more primary chords

Here are the Primary Chords in the key of F major: (F-Bb-C)

primary chords in F

The following example is a rhythmic pattern in the key of F major. It uses the I-IV-I-V7-I chords.

primary chord pattern in F

The possible uses of the these three chords are endless. Thousands of songs have been written using them:

  • Amazing Grace
  • God Bless America
  • Sweet Home in Alabama
  • Love Me Tender
  • Marianne
  • Michael Row The Boat Ashore

and many, many more.

Here are the same chords in the key of G major: (G-C-D-G)

primary chords in G

Amazing Grace

Following is an example of Amazing Grace in the key of G major. It uses mostly the I-IV-V chords in the key of G.

Amazing Grace

FREE DOWNLOAD: Seventh chords!

Click the icon to download s free PDF of ALL 7th, minor 7th and major 7th CHORDS.  You can then save a copy or print a hard copy of the included sheet.

7th chords - chord inversions - sus chords

extended chords - diatonic triads - diatonic 7th chords

primary chords - secondary chords - secondary dominants

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by Carl Schroeder and Keith Wyatt