Welcome to the latest installment of Chord by Chord, a series designed to build your understanding of harmony and the fretboard. In the previous lesson we went over the I–ii–V–I progression in A major. This time I’ll show you another common progression, the I–IV–V7–I, also in A.

The Work

Example 1 depicts the A major scale, from which all of the chords in the progression are derived. The I chord is built off the first degree (A); the IV, the fourth degree (D); and the V7, the fifth degree (E). See Examples 2a–c to review the full construction of these chords, which you should already know if you’ve been following along with these lessons.


Example 3 shows how to play the I–IV–V7–I using all open chords. Try swapping out some of those for barre chords, as shown in Example 4. Note the suggested fingering for the A chord is different than usual, making it easier to move to the barre chords higher up the neck. Example 5 is based on the same idea, but using a fifth-position A for the I chord. For some compact voicings on just the top three strings, work through Example 6.

chord by chord tab and notation,  I–IV–V7–I Progression, scales and chord shapes

The Result

You should now know a variety of ways to play the I–IV–V7–I in the key of A major. One song that makes use of this progression is “Visions of Johanna” by Bob Dylan. In the next lesson, we’ll continue our exploration of chord progressions with the I–vi–IV–V7–I, also in A.  

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