3 sketches about four-chord songs

axis of awesome

I was reminded earlier of one of my favourite sketches, in which Rob Paravonian demonstrates his, uh, appreciation for Pachelbel’s Canon in D. It’s one of my all-time favourite clips on Youtube.

Pachelbel Rant

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That in turn reminded me of the classic Axis of Awesome sketch (here performed live on the Footy Show)

4 Chords

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If that’s not enough four-chord songs for you, Youtube user mathyou9 went to the trouble of demonstrating 65 songs that use the same chord progression. Some of it’s pretty tenuous, but on the whole, it’s a pretty interesting clip. I’ll let him explain:

Inspired by “4 Chords” by The Axis of Awesome, I decided to make my own rendition of songs that utilize these four chords. In music theory, the chords are as follows: I-V-vi-IV. Rather than performing each song (as did The Axis of Awesome) I mixed the actual recordings into a single montage.

Of course ALL of these songs are in different keys and have different meters and different tempos; mixing them in their “natural” state would sound awful. So I transposed them all to the same key (I chose the key of B major.) And once transposed, I took each single chord sequence and made them all the same length.

With these alterations, you will hear that some songs sound “Alvin and the Chipmunks”-esque while others sound “deep-voiced demon”-esque. Also, some are substantially sped-up and others substantially slowed-down. And some are hardly changed, if at all; it just depends on what the original key of the song was.

Hope you like it.

FOR MUSIC THEORY GEEKS:
Most of the songs were in a major key, with the chord progression truly being I-V-vi-IV. There were, however, a few songs in minor; with a i-VI-III-VII chord progression. This minor-key chord progression is *enharmonically equivalent* to vi-IV-I-V. So for such songs, the chord progression is repeated at least twice during the song (e.g., vi, IV-[I-V-vi-IV]-I-V) you’ll obviously see that right in the middle of the doubled chord sequence (in brackets) is “I-V-vi-IV.”


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