Spanish Chord Pattern

  • Creator
  • #14692


    I’ve been trying to find out what the Spanish Chord Progression “Am – G – Dm – E” is, in order to write it the way I have seen other Progressions written – i.e. like the earlier Progression: G – Em – C – D is written as I-vi-IV-V.

    First problem is that I do not know how to determine the key.  Is it in the key of Am?  Or in G?  Or E?  Nothing makes sense when I try to look at it on the Circle of Fifths to find something that has Am, G, Dm and E together.  The same when I look at some lists I’ve gathered on common Chord Progressions.

    I am confused about minor keys – and suspect that some uncommon modes (which I don’t really understand yet) may be in play, especially since the name “Spanish” may imply something off the normal chord track.

    Thanks for the help, DaveJay

  • Author
  • #14738


    Hi David,

    Great question. You’re right… key of Am. By the way you asked (circle of 5ths, etc.).

    I see an opportunity for a some additional coaching here.

    I can tell you’re trying to reason it out.

    A big shift for me as a musician happened when I began to use my ears first, and let my intellect confirm and fill in. Easier said then done for us adults.

    With that said, listen to the progression and see if you can hear the Am as a resting or home chord.

    Read this when you get a chance:

    BTW… it would be analysed as i – viib – iv – V (the V is altered to fit the role of a dominant chord).





    I totally agree with your 1st Secret.

    Except this isn’t the first time around for me.  I had some music theory with my childhood piano lessons – just enough to help me muddle through when I learned to play guitar badly 35 years ago.

    I’ve now been at it steady about 6 months, this time with better instruction online from the likes of Justin Sandercoe (Justin Guitar) and Andy Crowley (Andy’s Guitar), but am enjoying going back through the basics by way of refresher through your Beginner’s Journey.  I am a big believer in having the fundamentals down solid – having made that mistake with guitar earlier – and having done things better as a Ski Instructor and also through teaching Engineering courses and Engineering Software courses through my career.  If you can’t do the simple things cleanly – and especially slowly (because mistakes are really apparent then) – then you need more practice.

    I really, really like your approach.  It is obvious that you have been around this block more than a few times and have thought hard and tried many different ways of teaching guitar, constantly appraising and restructuring your curriculum.  Also, I favor acoustic and classical guitar, even though an electric can be entertaining, it is not my first choice.  Also, too much gadget fiddlin’ distracts me from learning how to play.

    So, thanks for the answer.  In my defense, I am trying to focus on the Chord Pattern, not just the Chords, per your advice.  And I thought a Pattern should be describe in generic terms to use the pattern in other keys.  But I have to admit that your answer tells me that the Music Theory in that pattern is over my head right now, so taking your advice, I am going to ignore the generic pattern for now, enjoy the “Am – G – Dm – E” Spanish progression (it is a very pretty sequence) – and move on.

    Thanks, DaveJay

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