Modes, Chords, and Progressions

Green rows mostly sound major/happy.
Blue rows mostly sound minor/sad.
* Popular mode
Chords in the key of C
Mode 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
* Ionian C Dm Em F G Am Bdim
* Dorian Cm Dm Eb F Gm Adim Bb
Phrygian Cm Db Eb Fm Gdim Ab Bbm
Lydian C D Em F#dim G Am Bm
* Mixolydian C Dm Edim F Gm Am Bb
Aeolian Cm Ddim Eb Fm Gm Ab Bb
Locrian Cdim Db Ebm Fm Gb Ab Bbm
Hint: Try the same chord in more than one bar
Some chord progressions
C F G Am Expand
C Dm G C Expand
C G C F Expand
Am Dm Em G Expand
Am D Am Em Expand

Some hints from Gary Ewer

Once you’ve got some simple progressions, you can then expand on what you’ve created to come up with progressions that are more creative and unpredictable. For example, you might take a simple progression like I-ii-V-I (C-Dm-G-C) and do any of the following:
  1. Add a lowered-VII-chord, or change the V-chord to a lowered-VII-chord: C-Dm-G-Bb-C, or C-Dm-Bb-C
  2. Add a secondary dominant chord. A secondary dominant takes a good deal of explanation, but to simplify it, simply take a chord that is normally minor, then switch it to major: C-D-G-C.
  3. Change a ii-chord to a lowered-III (major) chord: C-Eb-F-G.
  4. Change any chord to the version of that chord you’d find in a minor key. (If your chosen key is minor, change chords to the version you’d find in a major key): C-F-Fm-G-C