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SurfGuitar101 Forums » Surf Music General Discussion »

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I was talking to a musician friend of mine, and he asked me whether I’d seen that video on the four chords that killed popular music. So, I looked into it (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nuGt-ZG39cU, and see also https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FY8SwIvxj8o for a country music example). I guess this four-chord thing has been kicking around for a while, but I wasn't aware of it (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FY8SwIvxj8o, pretty funny).

So, it’s songs that use the I, IV, V, and VI chords in some permutation. Any one of the songs in the links above sound pretty good, but I can see that someone who listens to a lot of pop or country music would get tired of it.

I remember as a kid that doo-wop songs often used I VI IV V I, like In the Still of the Night. Of course, Sleepwalk uses that progression, too. So, my question is, what surf or guitar instrumental tunes use these four chords predominantly? Are there a lot of them? I don't know.

I just use a 1 in all my songs. That really messes with people! Laughing

The Kahuna Kings

https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Kahuna-Kings/459752090818447

https://thekahunakings.bandcamp.com/releases

ldk wrote:

I was talking to a musician friend of mine, and he asked me whether I’d seen that video on the four chords that killed popular music. So, I looked into it (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nuGt-ZG39cU, and see also https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FY8SwIvxj8o for a country music example). I guess this four-chord thing has been kicking around for a while, but I wasn't aware of it (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FY8SwIvxj8o, pretty funny).

So, it’s songs that use the I, IV, V, and VI chords in some permutation. Any one of the songs in the links above sound pretty good, but I can see that someone who listens to a lot of pop or country music would get tired of it.

I remember as a kid that doo-wop songs often used I VI IV V I, like In the Still of the Night. Of course, Sleepwalk uses that progression, too. So, my question is, what surf or guitar instrumental tunes use these four chords predominantly? Are there a lot of them? I don't know.

Many, though certainly not all, Surf songs are in minor keys and, you guessed it, many of them use the I, IV, V, and VI of a minor key. For example, Em. Em is the I, Am is the IV, B7 is the V and C6b5 is the VI, but in the real world, most people use the C7 as the VI (using the key of Em as an example). So, think through Surf songs you know and you’ll find plenty with these changes.

Another common pattern is the Andalusian Cadence, think Am, G, F, E7. This is a little more complex, because it is actually bimodal. It starts on the I of Am, goes to the V do C Major, G(7) (relative Major of A minor), the IV doesn’t C Major, F, and down to the V of A minor, E7.

People bemoan the three and four chord song, and indeed, compared to the standards of the first half of the 20th Century, these are harmonically simple, but 3 and 4 chord songs have a rich history, including in Classical music.

The artist formerly known as: Synchro

When Surf Guitar is outlawed only outlaws will play Surf Guitar.
My Guitar WebSite
Dead Thread

https://www.musictheoryforguitar.com/guitarscalesminor.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_songs_containing_the_I–V–vi–IV_progression

Last edited: Feb 11, 2019 08:11:35

Surfing_Sam_61, interesting Wikipedia link. Taylor Swift wins with 6 songs.

As I looked into this issue more, the complaint is about the specific order of the four chords: vi-IV-I-V, though the starting chord could be any one of them, like I-V-vi-IV.

I looked at the chords of the 30 or instrumental songs I can play. I found a few with a predominant I-vi-IV-V, like Pacifica and Perfidia (although they have a lot of other chords going on, too). The only one I found with the vi-IV-I-V order was Rescue at Mavericks by the Torquays. That’s a great song. So, I’m guessing there’s no ‘crisis of chord conformity’ in surf music.

If anyone knows of relatively recent (say 2000+) guitar instrumental tunes with a predominant vi-IV-I-V structure, I’d be curious to know.

ldk wrote:

Surfing_Sam_61, interesting Wikipedia link. Taylor Swift wins with 6 songs.

As I looked into this issue more, the complaint is about the specific order of the four chords: vi-IV-I-V, though the starting chord could be any one of them, like I-V-vi-IV.

I looked at the chords of the 30 or instrumental songs I can play. I found a few with a predominant I-vi-IV-V, like Pacifica and Perfidia (although they have a lot of other chords going on, too). The only one I found with the vi-IV-I-V order was Rescue at Mavericks by the Torquays. That’s a great song. So, I’m guessing there’s no ‘crisis of chord conformity’ in surf music.

If anyone knows of relatively recent (say 2000+) guitar instrumental tunes with a predominant vi-IV-I-V structure, I’d be curious to know.

I, VI, IV, V changes are common, and nothing new. IIRC, it goes back to, at least, Mozart. However, in the ‘50s, it was played to death, usually in 12/8, think Heart & Soul.

The artist formerly known as: Synchro

When Surf Guitar is outlawed only outlaws will play Surf Guitar.
My Guitar WebSite
Dead Thread

synchro wrote:

I, VI, IV, V changes are common, and nothing new. IIRC, it goes back to, at least, Mozart. However, in the ‘50s, it was played to death, usually in 12/8, think Heart & Soul.

Agreed, late 50s was full of I, vi, IV, V. I wasn't exactly clear in my original post, and maybe not in my second post.

The relatively recent issue in popular music is the overuse of the vi-IV-I-V progression, in that order, although not necessarily starting on the vi. I'm looking for surf examples with that progression figuring prominently. Rescue at Mavericks is the only one I know of.

ldk wrote:

synchro wrote:

I, VI, IV, V changes are common, and nothing new. IIRC, it goes back to, at least, Mozart. However, in the ‘50s, it was played to death, usually in 12/8, think Heart & Soul.

Agreed, late 50s was full of I, vi, IV, V. I wasn't exactly clear in my original post, and maybe not in my second post.

The relatively recent issue in popular music is the overuse of the vi-IV-I-V progression, in that order, although not necessarily starting on the vi. I'm looking for surf examples with that progression figuring prominently. Rescue at Mavericks is the only one I know of.

Ok, now I follow. The IV, V, VI cadence is a quick and dirty way of injecting drama. I’ve seen it used to good effect, but it can easily be overused. I have notice, especially in contemporary Country, the overuse of such cliches with alarming uniformity.

Surf can fall victim to cliches, as well. It’s a genre which is fairly narrowly defined and can easily fall into the trap of sameness. However, Surf seems to have done a good job of retaining a degree of uniqueness. It’s not a trivial feat, but I think that the Surf community has done pretty well.

The artist formerly known as: Synchro

When Surf Guitar is outlawed only outlaws will play Surf Guitar.
My Guitar WebSite
Dead Thread

I'm not a expert on chord theory - but working on it soon Cool

Ok if the Andalusian Cadenc " Am, G, F, E7 " mentioned on here is a form of 1 4 5 6, like used on Walk Don't Run by The Ventures on part of the song - than the songs below have to be variations of the same chords progression wise on parts of these songs:

Bedlam by the The Belairs
Shockwave by Zorba & The Greeks
Lullaby of The Leaves by The Ventures

And if Perfidia is another form than this number below was inspired by it with a variation of progression:

Chiflado - By Thom Starr & The Galaxies

This song is a backwards Perfidia progression of the same exact opening chords, which originally was a popular Big Band dance number in the 1940's. The only difference is Perfidia has a key change, but it has to be a variation of 1 4 5 6.

The reason the 1950's rock n roll and Doo Wop had this style was because they evolved out of Country & Western bands in the late 1940's that had replaced Big Bands at the club level - so basically they all used the same chord type progressions as dance numbers.

Don Wilson of The Ventures said all their music was inspired by Big Band numbers because that was the music they grew up with and loved - in fact many were just new renditions or reworked on electric guitar and why their records were used to dance with by everyone in the early 60's.

I'm trying to think of more songs but totally brain dead this morning Zzzzz Hope that helps: sounds like a Chiflado type songs are the ones to look for to me. Dunno

Not sure but I love this song anyway whatever it is Yes

Last edited: Feb 12, 2019 05:27:51

Sam, thank you for your enthusiasm.

I was not clear in my first two posts, because my question was not clear in my own mind. I thought I got it straight in my third post. I'll try again.

What are some relatively recent surf tunes, or guitar instrumentals in general, that prominently feature one of the following chord progressions

vi-IV-I-V
IV-I-V-vi
I-V-vi-IV
V-vi-IV-I

My apologies for bringing them up in my previous posts, but I'm not interested in examples with I-vi-IV-V.

Thanks.

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