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Common Ska Progressions

Updated May 25, 2017

Ska is a style of music that emerged in Jamaica in the 1960s. It become popularised in America in the 1970s and again in the 1990s. Ska is characterised by a strong offbeat and the use of horns such as trumpets and saxophones. The bass and guitar play simple chord progressions that while other instruments play solos.

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I-IV-V-I Chord Progression

The most common chord progression in any style of music, including ska, is the I-IV-V-I progression. The I chord is the tonic, or the first scale degree of a key. For instance, a C major chord is the I chord in the key of C major. The IV chord in C major is F, and the V chord in C major is G. The I-IV-V-I progression is made up of major chords.

I-ii-V-I Progression

Another common ska chord progression is I-ii-V-I. Instead of the IV chord as seen in the previous progression, there is a ii chord, which is a minor chord. In C major, the ii chord would be a D minor chord. Notice progressions return to the I chord.

I-vi-IV-V-I Progression

The I-vi-IV-V-I chord progression is another common progression in ska music. This progression adds a minor vi chord to the I-IV-V-I progression. A vi in C major would be an A minor chord. Chord progressions are cyclical in nature, and you can use the chart found at the end of the "Common Chord Progressions" lesson to make your own chord progressions.

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About the Author

Cara Batema is a musician, teacher and writer who specializes in early childhood, special needs and psychology. Since 2010, Batema has been an active writer in the fields of education, parenting, science and health. She holds a bachelor's degree in music therapy and creative writing.

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