Milking a I-V progression

As songwriters, improvisers and guitarist we can often overcomplicate things. Trying to learn too many things, trying to use overly complex chord progressions in our songs and improvisations. Here’s an example by Chopin to show how beautiful a song can be with just 2 chords, Db and Ab7!

This tune by Chopin repeats a I-V progression for over 5 minutes! Notice how it starts out sparse and becomes more complex building tension, with lots of chromatic or ‘outside’ notes. But the bass line is the same for almost the entire piece. I’ve include the bass line on guitar below the video.

Berceuse by Chopin Bass Line

So try writing a song or improvising using this simple progression. Remember that there are many things you can do – target each chord tone of Db (Db, F, Ab) and Ab7 (Ab, C, Eb, Gb). For 2 notes together you can combine root and 3rd, root and fifth, root and minor 7th, 3rd and fifth, 3rd and 7th as well as the inversion of these. Study the melody of this song and see what Chopin did (eg chromatic approaches).

Please check out my Baroque Improvisation Course if you’re interested learning more of this.

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