UD#44 The Case of the Mystery Chord: The Minor IV

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UD #44 The Case of the Mystery Chord: The Minor IV
from Ukulele in the Dark w/ Guido Heistek


In UD #17 and UD #18 we looked at diatonic chords and how they help us to figure out songs by ear. Diatonic chords are the family of chords that are created out of the notes from the key the song is in. Once you figure out what key the song is inthe diatonic chords from that key are a good place to start when trying to figure out the chords by ear. There are many songs that use exclusively diatonic chords. This is the musical equivalent of using the paint “straight out of the tube” and never mixing colors. Sometimes simple is best!Here’s the problem. A huge number of songs don’t use exclusively diatonic chords. These songs use chords that are borrowed from other keys and scales. In this newsletter we will take a peek at one example of a non-diatonic chord: The minor IV chordLet’s do it!

Please play the chords in the following examples so you can get a feel for the progressions.

There is a chord chart below for your reference.


Here’s a typical progression in the key of C :

(4 beats per bar)
| C | G7 | F | C |

As we learned in UD #17 this progression can be written in roman numerals like this:

Let’s make the F chord (the IV chord) a minor chord and see how that sounds:

| C | G7 | Fm | C |
(I V7 iv I )

Interesting? The sound of the minor IV chord may be familiar. It might remind you of a song you’ve heard in the past.

NOTE: The lower case roman numeral iv shows that the chord has now become a minor chord.

Let’s try this. Instead of going directly to the Fm, start with an F chord for two beats and then go to the Fm for two beats. Like this:

| C | G7 | F Fm | C |

In roman numerals this progression would be written like this:

I V7 IV iv I

As you can see from these examples sometimes chord progressions jump directly to the minor IV chord (iv). Sometimes the minor IV chord is prepared by first playing the regular IV chord.



Here are some examples from songs you may be familiar with. Please play through the following examples and give the songs a listen. Please see the chord chart above if you need help with the chords:

Tonight You Belong to Me (Eddie Vedder version)

G G7 C Cm G D7 G
I know you belong to somebody new but tonight you belong to me.
( I I7 IV iv I V7 I in the key of G )

In My Life (John Lennon)

F#m B7 Dm A
Some are dead and some are living in my life I love you more.
( vi II7 iv I in the key of A)

I Will Follow You Into the Dark (Death Cab for Cutie)

Bb Bbm F
I will follow you into the dark
(IV iv I in the key of F)

Hope that gives you a feel for the sound of the delicious minor IV (iv) chord.

Did you notice some other non-diatonic chords the the progressions above? In My Life uses the II7 chord. Usually the II chord is a minor chord (written ii). Tonight You Belong to Me uses a I7 chord. Interesting! I will talk more about these other non-diatonic chords in later newsletters. Back to the minor IV chord.


Here is a song of mine called “My Pleasure”.

Listen to “MY PLEASURE”

The song is in the key of C and I use the I, IV, V7, vi and iv in the song.

So the chords to choose from are C, F, G7, Am and Fm

See you if you can figure out the chords by ear. Here is a lyric sheet to work with the chords blanked out. I left the chords in for the intro and solo sections. The answer is below.

Have fun!

Hope you enjoyed this week’s newsletter!

See you next time,



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