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As you likely know, chord progressions are not protected by copyright, so you can feel free to take any progression you like and use it for your own purposes. Sometimes it can be fun to take the progression of a very well-known song, and create an entirely new melody above it, and wonder if anyone will ever recognize that progression. It may lead to one of those “I’m sure I’ve heard this before” moments for your listeners, which should drive them crazy, and provide you with a bit of a chuckle.
What follows are chord progressions from five very well-known folksongs. The number that follows each chord tells you how many beats the chord should be strummed if you want to use it exactly the way it was used in the song. Of course, that’s entirely up to you; it can be interesting to change up how the chords change (known as the harmonic rhythm) to suit your song.
I’ve put the names of each song that the progressions were borrowed from at the end of this post, in case you want to try guessing which songs they were taken from.
Because these chords were originally used for folksongs does not mean that you must use them that way. Most progressions are easily used in any style, genre or tempo. Use your imagination!