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"Humoresque" Progression

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A chord progression, made famous by Antonín Dvořák'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).

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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).

Variations that substitute VI for iv (in minor) or IV for ii (in major) are common.

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.

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Examples in Anime/Japanese Music

  • The opening theme of Stellvia of the Universe, "Asu e no Brilliant Road" by Angela, right at the beginning and subsequently the beginning of each chorus.
  • Cliff Edge is fond of this. It appears in three songs of theirs that are probably best known to English-speaking audiences for being used in AMVs — "Aishiteru", "Endless Tears", and "The Distance", all in their relative minor version. Their song "Re: Namidaboshi" also features a variant that puts a minor v chord after the first i. Meanwhile, a major version appears in the song "Here", as the second half of the main phrase of the refrain.
  • Ayumi Hamasaki uses this chord a lot. Examples: Dearest, Moments, Moon, Green, Last Minute
  • Every Heart by Bo A, ending of Inuyasha. Relative Major example
  • The chorus of Fukai Mori by Do As Infinity, another Inuyasha ending
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  • AAA has "Blood on Fire" and "Music!!!"
  • fripSide's composer, "Sat" (i.e. Satoshi Yaginuma), is fond of this progression. It's found in "Only My Railgun" and "black bullet", while a variant (i v bVI bVII III) is found in "LEVEL 5 -judgement-" and "fortissimo -the ultimate crisis-".
  • Sat also worked on the ALTIMA song "I'll Believe", which also contains this progression.
  • The first half of the verse of "Time After Time" by Mai Kuraki.
  • The beginning of the verse of "Take a Shot" from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha uses the minor version, specifically the variant that adds a v after the i.
  • Near the beginning of "Koi no Minoru Densetsu" from Lucky Star, when the guitars come in. (But not the song it's a parodying, "Koi no Mikuru Densetsu" from Haruhi.)
  • The verse of "Forever", the opening theme of Elemental Gelade, by Savage Genius.
  • All My Love by Yui Horie, opening for Mao-chan
  • The ending theme of Kiddy Grade, "Future", features this in the chorus.
  • The ending theme of Slam Dunk, "Anata Dake Mitsumeteru"
  • The Tales of Symphonia animé theme "Starry Heavens" has this at the beginning of the song and of the chorus.
  • Sukisugite Baka Mitai by Def. Diva of Hello! Project.
  • Near the end of the first boss battle theme of the Magic Knight Rayearth SNES RPG.
  • In the Mega Man Legends soundtrack, the insert song "Your Wind is Blowing", combines the Humoresque Progression with the Circle of Fifths, by changing one chord of the latter so that the former is embedded in it.
  • The theme tune of the two Ef series.
  • Final Fantasy X: When the main melody of "To Zanarkand" comes in.
  • From the Mega Man X4'' soundtrack:
  • apple41: "Puzzle", composed for vocaloid Miku Hatsune: intro and chorus, relative major example
  • The fourth (and final) ending theme of Eureka Seven, "Canvas" by COOLON. Relative major example
  • Utada Hikaru's "Can You Keep a Secret?", a relative major example (vi IV V I).
  • The velvet room theme in the Persona games has this progression.
  • EXEC_REBIRTHIA=PROTOCOL/. from Ar Tonelico 3 does it as well, sounding suspiciously similar to the Velvet Room theme as a result.
  • The second ending theme of 'Your Lie in April'', "Orange" by 7!!.
  • The Poloy Forest theme from Tails Adventure (starting at 0:08).
  • Super Mario World's Athletic theme. In this one, however, The first two chords are major and minor, respectively, instead the other way around. (Relative major example)
  • Kanako Itou - "Star Crossed" (bridge, relative major example)
  • Mari Iijima and Robbie Ford - "Eternal Summer"
  • "Give a Reason", the Slayers NEXT opening song (chorus)
  • Yuki Kajiura uses this progression a lot in her music
    • Chorus of stone cold by Fiction Junction (Sacred Seven OP)
    • Appears in many Kalafina songs, including the choruses of believe (Fate/stay night [unlimited blade works] ED 1), One Light (The Heroic Legend of Arslan ED 2), and Kimi ga Hikari ni Kaeteiku (Kara no Kyoukai 2nd Movie ED)

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