If you like studying the chord progressions used in your favourite songs, you’ll know that a minor key verse leading to a major key chorus is pretty common. But most of the time, that minor key will be what’s called the relative minor of the major key that follows.
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An example of that common relationship is a verse in A minor that moves to the key of C major for the chorus. If this is a bit new to you, you might find this page helpful: “Relative Major and Relative Minor Scales.”
When Sting wrote “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” back in 1980, he put the verse in minor and the chorus in major, but used a very rare key relationship: the verse seemingly in G minor, and the chorus in D major.
The chords in this song are for the most part incredibly simple: just Eb and Gm for the verse, and then D and A for the chorus. In effect, it almost sounds as though the piece is actually in G minor. If you hear it that way, you’ll hear Eb as a VI-chord and Gm as a I.
Then when the chorus starts, the D sounds like a V-chord of G minor which gets reinterpreted as a I-chord in a new key: D major. Then it’s a straightforward I-V progression.
I don’t think I know of another song that goes from minor to major with in this particular way. I love the inventiveness of using a rare key relationship — Gm to D major — while still keeping the actual progressions incredibly simple.
The minor-to-major chord structure is a great way to create musical contrast between verse and chorus. If you like this particular variety of Gm to D major, here are some short progressions that you might want to experiment with. Consider the chords up to the double bar line as the verse, and feel free to repeat it as much as you need before moving on to the chorus — the bit that follows the double line:
- Gm Cm D7 Cm ||D A G D…
- Gm Cm Adim Bb ||D A Bb A
- Gm Eb Cm D ||A D G A
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