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Humoresque Progression

A chord progression, made famous by Antonin Dvorak's piano solo piece "Humoresque", in which this features in the middle section.

The original progression is in a minor key, and runs as follows: i VI VII III. The effect is a temporary toniciziation of the relative major key—in other words, the music temporarily sounds like it's going to the relative major key. This is frequently followed a chord like v or VII, and even if not, repeated instances of this progression. This progression is used in ways similar to the use of the first four chords of the Circle of Fifths in a minor key (i iv VII III).

However, that may be hard to distinguish from its relative major key, and would in fact count as vi IV V I if in major, making this a variant of The Four Chords of Pop. In this case, this functions as a derivative of the Authentic Cadence (V I). And again, it tends to be repeated a lot...often using the same transition chord, too (iii, which is the same as v in the relative minor).

Tends to show up a lot in Anime Theme Songs and Japanese Pop Music. Has its own list of examples on this page. Relative minor (i VI VII III) and relative major (vi IV V I) examples are also noted.

Examples in Anime/Japanese Music

Other Music

  • The chorus of Taylor Swift 's I Knew You Were Trouble
  • Selena Gomez 's Love You Like a Love Song
  • The trope namer is Dvořák's "Humoresque" #7 in G flat major. This link goes to the middle section of the piece, where it most famously appears.
  • Briefly in the first movement of Ludwig van Beethoven's violin concerto, when the second theme temporarily goes to minor.
  • Mike Oldfield includes this progression in his famous song "Moonlight Shadow". Listen to the first four chords when the voice comes in. Listen to them repeat.
  • "Heart of Gold" by Neil Young, when the harmonica comes in, and again when the voice comes in.
  • Two phrases (1:21 and 3:06) in the middle of the "Chess" piece from Chess uses this progression. At other times it follows the traditional Circle of Fifths and uses iv instead of VI.
  • Talk Talk's "It's My Life" in the prechorus.
  • The chorus of Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer".
  • The beginning of the title theme of Monster Tale, though it uses a major I chord rather than a minor i chord as is standard (Amaj Fmaj Gmaj Cmaj, rather than Amin Fmaj Gmaj Cmaj).
  • "Where I Come From" by Montgomery Gentry (verses)
  • Dido - "Thank You" (verses), and by extension, Eminem - "Stan".
  • Talk Talk - "It's My Life"(chorus)
  • The Real McCoy - "Another Night"
  • Aqua - "Barbie Girl"(chorus)
  • Basshunter - "Boten Anna", and by extension, "Now You're Gone"
  • Cascada - "Bad Boy" (chorus)
  • Deborah Cox - "I Never Knew" (except for the bridges)
  • "So Serious" by Electric Light Orchestra: chorus (Relative major example)
  • "Crash Into Me" by Dave Matthews Band. (Relative major example)
  • "Time Is Love" by Josh Turner. (Relative major example)
  • Examples from contemporary Christian music: the choruses of "Knocking on Heaven's Door" by Avalon and "Facts Are Facts" by Steven Curtis Chapman.
  • The chorus of "Something Happened on the Way to Heaven" by Phil Collins (Relative major example)
  • The chorus of Belinda Carlisle's "Heaven Is a Place on Earth" (Relative major example)
  • Toni Braxton - "I Love Me Some Him" uses the Circle of Fifths variant (iv instead of VI) (Relative major example)
  • The first part of the chorus to REO Speedwagon's "Take It on the Run." (Relative major example)
  • Electric Youth - "The Best Thing"
  • Lolita - "Goin' On" (synth and chorus; the former is relative major)
  • Anders Lundqvist - "Mission to the Stars"(riff)
  • Cyber Space - "Die Zeit (Back to Mars)"
  • The A-section of "Gypsy Bard" from Friendship is Witchcraft.
  • Luianne - "Liveliness" and "Dawning"
  • The Whispers - More of the Night (verses) (Circle of Fifths variant)
  • Luxor - Megaforce Theme (B section)
  • Savage Garden - "To The Moon and Back" (chorus)