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Root Progression Analysis

Let's take our analysis of "Let It Be" a step farther by converting the song into a Root Progression format. Which means we are going to convert into the Roman Numerals. Ease of future transposing is just one of the benefits of this methodology.

With the Chord Wheel positioned with the 'Key' box centered upon the letter 'C' and examine the chords characteristic of the 'Key of C.' The first chord of the verse is 'C' which (as you see at the base of the 'C' outline on the Chord Wheel) is the 'I Chord.' Spoken as 'One Chord' because they're Roman numerals, not letters.





Here is a shot of the Chord Wheel set in the 'Key of C.' The Root Progression (i.e. Roman Numeral for each chord is enclosed in the small box at the base of each chord's portion. For example, at the base of the 'G' is the label "V Chord."





The first chord in the progression is "C;" the 'I Chord.' It is the defining chord of the key and is also called the tonic. It is consistently the most utilized chord regardless of key and most of the other chords in a key's 'family' will tend to make listener ears ache to hear the resolution provided by the 'I Chord.' Use this expectation to pull listeners along as well as providing them with the comfortable resolution they desire.

The second chord of the verse is 'G.' At the base of the clear plastic disk's outline of the G major chord you'll see the designation 'V Chord.' This 'Five Chord' is probably the second most important chord in a given key. It's sound is often said to have the strongest tendency to make the listener expect to hear the 'I Chord' especially when used as a Dominant 7th. Otherwise, like the 'I Chord,' this chord is also a Major chord when played as a triad (with only the first three basic notes).

The third chord, 'Am,' you'll discover functions as a 'vi Chord.' Take the time to determine the Roman Numeral for the rest of the chords in the song. Once you have completed this task you are ready to express 'Let It Be' in terms of chord theory.


LET IT BE by The Beatles (Key of C)
Verse: I____V___ vi____ IV___ I ____V____ IV ____I____
Chorus: vi___iii____ IV____I____ I ____V____ IV ____I____
*Note: Chords are approximate and supplied for private study, scholarship and research.


Congratulations! You've just theoretically dissected one of the most popular tunes in music history. (Well, actually there's a bit more during the song's closing and you could get a lot deeper in depth' but the Chord Wheel is going to get you there.) So what's this useful for? Let's say you're welcoming a surprise vocalist on your next gig and they love the tune you've picked out, just in a different key! Or perhaps you'd like to compose catchy tunes. By only briefly analyzing your favorite composers you'll be amazed by what you learn about your ears and what you find pleasing in music. You're on your way to writing better music. The best avant garde artists whom are always bending and breaking the rules, typically are well in control of just how, when and where they're breaking them. So let's get started.