D Major: Tonic, Subdominant & Dominant

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Topic Progress:

With playing chords, it is important to play chords with a certain sequence with which they sound good. We will be examining these progressions of chords so that you will be able to improvise and make sure that the chords you play are in sequence resulting in a great sound. By knowing the tonic, subdominant and dominant chords and follow a progression you can do just that. First a brief explanation of the tonic, subdominant and dominant chords before we are able to apply these to D Major.

There are specific ways to which we refer to particular notes in a scale. This is known as scale degrees. Each scale degree provides a position of a specific note in relation to the main note of the scale otherwise known as the tonic. The tonic as the main note, can be considered as the first note or I. Here is a brief list of the notes and scale degrees corresponding to them:

  • Tonic (I)
  • Supertonic (II)
  • Mediant (III)
  • Subdominant (IV)
  • Dominant (V)
  • Submediant (VI)
  • Subtonic (VII)

We will be making use of the roman numerals when referring to progressions. The progression of chords which will be played in this lesson are I, IV & V (being the Tonic, Subdominant and Dominant). For D, this progression is as follows:

D (I)

G (IV)

A7 (V)

Have a look at how these are played in following the I, IV & V sequence on the Cuatro, this sequence is played using a simple rhythm whereby one measure is played for D & G, and for A7 2 measures are played.

Note: A measure is following a series of strums corresponding to the rhythm being played. In this case each measure has 6 strums

I, IV & V Progression of D Major

Make sure that you learn to play these chords and the sequence with which they find themselves following the I, IV & V progression. This will become vital when learning how to play songs. Simply by knowning the progression.


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Send us the audio or video of your cuatro playing all three chords for the D major key, Tonic, Subdominant & Dominant.  One of our teachers will review it and approve or comment on it for you to get feedback on how are you playing these chords.

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