Common Latin Guitar Chord Progressions

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Today I will be giving you a brief overview of the main Latin Guitar chord progressions. These might include flamenco music, Brasilian pieces and popular Latin songs. We will discuss the progression in terms of numbers which is the standard way of reffering to chord harmony. There are 7 chords i each key with each chord taking it’s number from their place in the scale. For example C major has the following chords:

C – Dm – Em – F – G – Am – B half  dim

We can extend these chords by adding a 7th note:

C^ – Dm7 – Em7 – F^ – G7 – Am7 – Bm7b5

^ = major 7

So C^is chord I also known as the tonic. Dm7 is chord ii, Em7 is chord iii etc. By using the chord numbers we can refer to a chord pattern which can work in any key you choose. I will be choosing examples in different keys to demonstrate this. As you get better at hearing these chord patterns your understanding of  Latin Jazz theory will improve. This also really helps when you are improvising. Let’s have a look at some of these common progressions:

ii – V – I

Manha De Carneval is a Brasilian piece by Luis Bonfa in A minor and features a ii – V – I at the start of the A section. The chords are Bm7b5 – E7 – Am as shown below:

Here’s the melody I play on the video.

 

Summer Samba is a Brasilian piece by Carlos Jobim in F major. The progression here is I – IV9 – I – ii – V9 – I which is F – Bb9 – F – Gm7 – C9 – F.

Played with the melody:


 

Corcovado (Quiet Nights) by Jobim shows an extended ii-V- I progression here which moves up a tone: Dm7 – G7b9 then Em7 – A7b9 then back to Dm7 – G7b9 before resolving to C.

Here it is with the melody:

 

 

 

 

 

The Spanish Cadence – IV – III – II – I

Is a series of descending chords which leads down to the tonic. The chords are IV – III – II – I and we usually play it in a minor key. I A minor we get : Am – G – F – E (or E7 or E7b9).

Entre Dos Aguas is a rumba by Paco De Lucia which features a spanish cadence in the B section in the key of E minor. The chords are Em – D7 – C7 – B7.

 

Here is a great chromatic riff you can also play over this progression:

 

The Bulerias often features the Spanish cadence but often in D minor. It features the chords : Dm – C – Bb – A7 (b)

 

I – IV – V

Here is a piece by Otmar Liebert called Into The Night which features the I – IV – V in A minor: Am – Dm – E7

Here are the melody and chords:

The theme of the Adagio from Concerto De Aranjuez uses a I – VII – I  – IV – V in B minor with the chords Bm – A7 – Bm – Em – F#7 – Bm

                      Bm                                                       A7                            Bm

                       Em                                                                                                   F#7

                    Bm

 

 

 

I – bII

The Bulerias also uses the I to flat II as seen in this example:

Girl From Ipanema uses an F maj7 to F# Maj 7

Quiet Nights uses a similar vamp C maj 9 to C#maj9

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