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Anybody understand the IVm and Vm?

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by Chick-N-Picker, Jan 13, 2018.

  1. Chick-N-Picker

    Chick-N-Picker Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 26, 2015
    North Carolina
    I came across a Randy Travis song that had an interesting chord progression. It makes the song sound really melancholy and just flat out country.

    The name of the song is Future Mister Me. The chord progression the way I hear it is.

    C Gm C F Fm C Em Am G

    C Gm C F Fm C G F C

    I don't think I've ever run across this in a country song before (or nothing is coming to mind). I don't really understand the theory of how a fourth and fifth minor work in a progression like this. I just hear it and like it.

    Edit: I remembering I think Hobo's Prayer by Marty Stuart goes to a fourth minor.

  2. jbmando

    jbmando Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

    You hear the I v I IV a lot in popular music. Merle Haggard's song "That's the Way Love Goes" uses it, for example. IV to iv is a device for adding tension to a song and is used quite a bit in popular music as well.
    Note: the ordinals (fourth, etc.,) usually refer to intervals. Chords are called cardinals - (four, five, etc.)
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  3. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Silver Supporter

    Jun 22, 2010
    Osaka, Japan
    If the melody is in Cmixolydian, then the v chord built on that mode would have a minor third in it, right?
    Louie Louie has this, I think: A/D/em/D

  4. Axis29

    Axis29 Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    Jan 2, 2007
    Virginia, USA
    I subscribe to the theory that it wasn't about theory, but about what the original writer thought sounded good.

    Sometimes I try to figure things in music out based on my knowledge too much.
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  5. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire

    Nov 28, 2006
    NELA, Ca
    IV to iv is very common - the iv (if you want to think about this way) is a heavily altered V7 chord. Or, you can think of it as a type of chromatic motion leading to I. The 3rd of F is A, the 3rd of Fm is Ab leading to the 5th of the C chord - G. All very strong tones in those chords. So A > Ab > G. It's very strong motion.
    The Beatles, the Beach Boys, a ton Jazz and Bossa Nova employ it all the time.

    The iv by itself is used a lot in minor blues. The Thrill Is Gone is a great example.

    V minor - (again, 'if' you want to think about it this way) is a substitute for a bVII chord. In the OP's example the Gm7 is a sub for Bb (makes it a Bb6). C to Bb to C is very common. Using a Gm or Gm7 is a little 'prettier' and less abrupt because you have that G (the V) in the bass. Taking it a bit further ... if you play a Gm6 you're really just playing a C9 (w/G in the bass) so it becomes I > I7 > I, also very common.

    A lot of blues and soul will use a v minor. Examples: Ain't no Sunshine, All Your Love (otis rush), Roxanne, Killing Me Softly, Fire and Rain (both V and v), the Logical Song, Baker Street, and as mentioned by Jupiter - Louie, Louie.

    *You can always find a reason theoretically why something works or sounds good. Is it always necessary? No.
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2018
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  6. Valvey

    Valvey Tele-Holic

    Apr 5, 2007
    morgantown wv
    I got a theory that the Beatles learned about augmented, diminished, and minor IV chords from their cover of "Til There Was You."
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  7. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire

    Nov 28, 2006
    NELA, Ca
    I would tend to agree.


  8. Sollipsist

    Sollipsist Tele-Holic

    Aug 25, 2016
    Countless songs start at the root and then drop the bass a whole step - setting up the minor 5 perfectly. The Dead used it a lot that way.

    It's hard to resolve a minor 4 chord without immediately evoking The Beatles :D

  9. SecretSquirrel

    SecretSquirrel Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Jul 2, 2015
    The instrumental "Sleepwalk" uses the iv minor chord.

    C Am Fm G7

    and in the chorus:

    F Fm C etc...

    (Good song btw for jamming, and breaking out of usual I-IV-IV and 'blues box' shapes etc.)
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  10. the embezzler

    the embezzler Tele-Holic

    And also from George Martin I should think.
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  11. the embezzler

    the embezzler Tele-Holic

    Vm is very often just a prep II chord before resolving to IV. So Gm - C7 - Fmaj7.
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  12. Henry Mars

    Henry Mars Tele-Holic

    Jan 17, 2014
    Bucks Co. PA
    .... it is all about the ears eh? There are times when theory fails to explain the rational behind a set of changes. Use you ears first. At one time my knowledge of theory was well above the average player. Don't let it get in the way of what you hear because it will. hint .... Sitar. Geese it sounds like blues underneath but different,
    .... years ago I used to ponder the blues scale ... I mean it works but theory says it shouldn't .... your ears can adapt to anything. One day it hit me that the blues scale was an African invention .... ah!
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  13. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire

    Nov 28, 2006
    NELA, Ca
    In this case, theory explains the original question just fine. The Embezzler lays it out very succinctly ...
    ii - V to get you to F then Fm.
    Very normal, very common.

    *I've personally never come across anything, in either western, eastern or blues or whatever music that can't be explained (or at least shown to be of common usage) by music theory and an actual understanding of 'common practice' after sitting with it for awhile.

    Here's two great texts on Indian Classical (Sitar) music theory ...
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2018
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  14. Leon Grizzard

    Leon Grizzard Friend of Leo's

    Mar 8, 2006
    Austin, Texas
    And so, if you were talking scale, what do you play over the iv in the a major key?
    Posit it being a country tune, like the Nightlife in the key of C, which has a long enough duration of the Fm to where you have to play something:

    | C / / / | C7 / / / | F / / / | Fm / / / | C / / / | A7 / / / | D7 / / / / | G7 / / / / | C

    For that measure of Fm, do you play like you are in the key of Fm, or Cm, or what?
    C blues scale? D or Db above the Fm?

  15. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire

    Nov 28, 2006
    NELA, Ca
    Personally, I just make sure I hit an Ab note! *I like G and Eb too.

    Thinking F minor, I prefer the sound of a D as opposed to Db (dorian instead of aeolian). But one can make the Db work especially if it's at or near the end of a phrase that gets back to C.

    Again, for "me", I hear that Fm (the iv) as the most important or most obvious part of that progression. I know I'm still in the overall key of C but for a bar I switch to F minor and my personal preferences are just play the triad or F minor penta or F dorian (a little jazzier) stuff. C blues or C minor penta 'work' and can be effective in the hands of a confident player but they miss the Ab which, IMO, is the most important note of that chord.
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  16. The Blood

    The Blood Tele-Meister

    Dec 31, 2014
    Healdsburg, CA
    Are used to jam with a harmonica player a while ago who would hold up 1, 4 or 5 fingers depending on what Chord we’re on during a song. It worked pretty good for keeping people up to speed.

  17. the embezzler

    the embezzler Tele-Holic

    The iv minor comes from sub dominant harmony. Like Ken says, it's better to target chord tones rather than think of a specific scale but if you did want to use a 7 note scale melodic minor (or jazz minor in the american parlance) would work - F G Ab Bb C D E.
    klasaine likes this.

  18. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire

    Nov 28, 2006
    NELA, Ca
    Relating to the @Embezzler's above post ...
    Deciding between melodic minor with an E natural or Dorian minor with an Eb is a fielder's choice (baseball expression). They both work and yet both have a very different sound or 'color' over the F minor chord.

  19. DougM

    DougM Tele-Afflicted

    Jul 5, 2017
    Honolulu, HI
    I often play over the chords in a song using the key of each chord, if the song stays on each chord long enough. For instance a major blues in E, I can use the E major and E minor pentatonic over all three chords, and also use A major over the A chord, and B major or minor over the B chord.
    Or, on a song with a lot of chords like Little Wing, Still Got the Blues, Spain, Georgia, Europa, or Hotel California, I'll change keys with every chord. It gives me more melodic possibilities to work with, and sounds more interesting to me. I f I just stay in one key the whole time, I tend to get stale and start repeating myself, 'cause I don't have that good of chops. So, I try to make up for it with my knowledge of theory and the fretboard.
    In the song you show, as soon as you get to the A7 chord, you're no longer in the key of CMajor, 'cause in that key the A is a minor chord, as is the D chord. So, the A7, D7, and G7 are in the key of D- V, I, IV.

  20. sockgtr

    sockgtr Tele-Meister

    Mar 3, 2016
    Portland, OR
    Whoops, beaten to it :)
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2018

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