RockmasterThree-Chord Theory

The Three-Chord Theory

Wake the sleeping musical lion in you.

"If a song has more than three chords, it's too fancy."

Woodie Guthrie

"Country music isn't nothing but three chords and the truth."
Harlan Howard

There are seven notes in themajor (Ionian) scale.

In the key of C major they are C D E F G A B
do re mi fa so la ti.
These are the melody notes that we sing when we sing a song in the key of C major.
As we sing the melody notes we need to create harmony to accompany the melody.
There are three main chords (triads) in each key called major chords.
In the key of C major they are C, F, G.
C = C E G
F = F A C
G = G B D
As you can see these three main (major) chords contain all the notes in the key of
C major and, theoretically, could be used to harmonize all the melody notes.
It would sound OK but not great.
Additionally, there are three chords called minor and one called diminished.
In the key of C major the chords are C, Dm, Em, F, G, Am, Bdim.
The three minor chords are called relative minors as they relate to the three major chords.
Dm is relative to F major
Em is relative to G major
Am is relative to C major.
But these are minor triads. The full chords (4 notes) are Dm7, Em7, Am7.
Let's look at the notes contained in these minor chords.
Dm7 = D F A C
Em7 = E G B D
Am7 = A C E G
As you can see, the relative minor seventh chords contain the same notes as
their relative majors C, F, G with different bass notes.
You could say its really only three chords.
Learn the three major chords in all twelve keys. Practice them and get
comfortable with them and you will never run out of songs to play.
Note. The diminished triad will be used primarily as a substitute for the
V7 chord and will be dealt with at later time.

Many songs can be played with only three chords.

People have made millions of dollars playing these three chords.

This is a good place to start. The Rockmaster System will teach

you this and much more.

Progression: I IV V = C F G in the key of C Major

I II V = C Dm7 G




La Bamba



Caribbean Calypso, Soca  

Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot

Jamaica Farewell

Sloop John B

Michael Row the Boat Ashore



Alphabet Song

Baa Baa Black Sheep

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star

How Much is That Doggie in the Window?

If Youre Happy and You Know It

This Little Light of Mine

You Are My Sunshine



Lively Up Yourself

Too Experienced

Rivers of Babylon

Stealing Love

The Tide Is High (Blondie)



It Is No Secret (What God Can Do)

Amazing Grace

Lift Me Higher

Close to Thee

Down by the Riverside

How Great Is Our God

Jesus Loves Me


Nearer My God to Thee

The Old Rugged Cross

Take the Name of Jesus With You

Sweet Hour of Prayer

What A Friend We Have In Jesus

What A Mighty God We Serve

Rivers of Babylon



Blue Bayou

I Cant Stop Loving You

Cold, Cold Heart

Crying Time

Before the Next Teardrop Falls

Heartaches By The Number

Help Me Make It Through the Night

For the Good Times

I Fall to Pieces



Wolverton Mountain

Singing the Blues



Blowin in the Wind

Puff, The Magic Dragon

The Last Thing On My Mind

This Land Is Your Land



Kansas City

See See Rider

Frankie and Johnny

12-Bar Blues



Silent Night 

Away In A Manger

Feliz Navidad (Verse)


Rock & Pop

The Lion Sleeps Tonight

All Shook Up

Angel of the Morning

Another Saturday Night

Bye Bye Love

To Love Somebody




Hang On Sloopy

A Hundred Pounds of Clay

If I Were A Carpenter

King of the Road

Knock Three Times

The Last Thing On My Mind

Memories Are Made of This

My Elusive Dreams

Ob-la-di Ob-la-da

Ramblin Rose

Save the Last Dance for Me

Sad Song (Say So Much)

Sea Cruise

Since I Met You Baby

Spanish Harlem


Try to Remember

Wonderful Tonight