Chord Progressions: Borrowed Chords

One way to expand the harmonic possibilities of a chord progression beyond diatonic triads is to “borrow” chords from a parallel scale (a scale that has the same key center). The Borrowed Chords substitute (serve a similar harmonic function as) the chord in the original key.

If, for example, you are playing in the key of C Major, you might “borrow” the equivalent chords from the key of C Minor and vice versa.

Here are the diatonic chords in C major:


and the diatonic chords in C natural minor:


The “borrowable” chords always come in pairs that share the same number…


While it is theoretically possible to borrow any chord from any parallel key, only a small number are in common usage. Don’t sweat the details right now. For the moment, it is enough to understand the notion of borrowing.


About Frank J Peter

A uniquely burdened and blessed citizen of the world thinking and acting out loud!
This entry was posted in Aural Comprehension, Chord Progressions, How to Read Music, Music Theory and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Chord Progressions: Borrowed Chords

  1. paula graham says:

    I shall try them tomorrow ..some of them .

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love your experimental attitude, Paula! Try them out and see which ones speak to you… and which ones you recognize from music you’ve heard before!

    Liked by 1 person

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