Three Chord Theory by Rockmaster System

Three Chord Theory by Rockmaster System

Three Chord Theory by Rockmaster System

Three Chord Theory by Rockmaster System will wake the sleeping musical lion in you

If a song has more than three chords, it’s too fancy.                                                                     Woody Guthrie               
Country music isn’t nothing but three chords and the truth.”                                                    Harlan Howard

There are seven notes in the major (Ionian) scale.
In the key of C major they are:

C     D     E     F     G    A    B

do   re   mi   fa   so   la    ti.

These are the melody notes that we sing when we sing a song in the key of C major.
As we sing the melody notes we need to create harmony to accompany the melody.
There are three main chords (triads) in each key called major chords.
In the key of C major they are C,  F,  G.
C = C    E    G
F = F    A    C
G = G   B    D

As you can see, these three main (major) chords contain all the notes in the key of C major and, theoretically, could be used to harmonize all the melody notes.
It would sound OK but not great.
Additionally, there are three chords called minor and one called diminished.
In the key of C major, the chords are C, Dm, Em, F, G, Am, Bdim.
The three minor chords are called relative minors as they relate to the three major chords.
Dm is relative to F major
Em is relative to G major
Am is relative to C major.
But these are minor triads. The full chords (4 notes) are Dm7, Em7, Am7.
Let’s look at the notes contained in these minor chords.
Dm7 = D    F    A    C
Em7 = E    G    B    D
Am7 = A    C    E    G
As you can see, the relative minor seventh chords contain the same notes as their relative majors C, F, G with different bass notes.
You could say it’s really only three chords.
Learn the three major chords in all twelve keys. Practice them and get comfortable with them and you will never run out of songs to play.
Note. The diminished triad will be used primarily as a substitute for the V7 chord and will be dealt with at a later time.

Many songs can be played with only three chords.

People have made millions of dollars playing these three chords.
This is a good place to start. The Rockmaster System will teach
you this and much more.


I    IV    V  =  C    F       G    in the key of C Major

I    II     V  =  C   Dm7   G

Three Chord Theory by Rockmaster

Song Genre


La Bamba


Caribbean– Calypso, Soca

Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot

Jamaica Farewell

Sloop John B

Michael Row the Boat Ashore


Alphabet Song

Baa Baa Black Sheep

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star

How Much is That Doggie in the Window?

If You’re Happy and You Know It

This Little Light of Mine

You Are My Sunshine

Lively Up Yourself

Too Experienced

Rivers of Babylon

Stealing Love


It Is No Secret (What God Can Do)

Amazing Grace

Lift Me Higher

Close to Thee

Down by the Riverside

Jesus Loves Me


Nearer My God to Thee

The Old Rugged Cross

Take the Name of Jesus With You

Sweet Hour of Prayer

What A Friend We Have In Jesus

What A Mighty God We Serve

Rivers of Babylon


Blue Bayou

I Can’t Stop Loving You

Cold, Cold Heart

Crying Time

Before the NextTeardrop Falls

Help Me Make It Through the Night

For the Good Times

I Fall to Pieces



Wolverton Mountain

Singing the Blues


Blowin’ in the Wind

Puff, The Magic Dragon

The Last Thing On My Mind

This Land Is Your Land


Kansas City

See See Rider

Frankie and Johnny

12-Bar Blues


Silent Night

Away In A Manger

Feliz Navidad (Verse)

Rock & Pop

The Lion Sleeps Tonight

All Shook Up

Angel of the Morning

Another Saturday Night

Bye Bye Love

To Love Somebody




Hang On Sloopy

A Hundred Pounds of Clay

If I Were A Carpenter

King of the Road

Knock Three Times

The Last Thing On My Mind

Memories Are Made of This

My Elusive Dreams

Ob-la-di Ob-la-da

Ramblin’ Rose

Save the Last Dance for Me

Sad Song (Say So Much)

Sea Cruise

Since I Met You Baby

Spanish Harlem

Tide Is High (Blondie)


Try to Remember

Wonderful Tonight

Note: Some songs can have more than three chords but can be played with three chords.

Rockmaster Songbook

Three-Chord Theory2

Three Chord Theory by Rockmaster

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