chord progressions in tonal music


Guidelines for referencing

If you are planning to quote this website in an essay or on another website or you are planning on carrying out any research or writing a thesis or dissertation which involves root progression analysis techniques as specified on this website then it is important to to correctly reference this work in your thesis or dissertation.

Whilst I welcome references to the research and ideas on this site, please note that all writing on this website is governed by international copyright regulations and therefore needs to be referenced in a correct manner.

The following outline notes should help with this. Please read all sections.

If you are in any doubt please write to me at contact address

Please note, I am not able to to enter into joint projects. However, I will endeavor to answer questions re this theory were I can. Please write to contact address.


1. Following the techniques specified on

If you are planning to do a project which uses the root progression analysis techniques specified on this site then the following guidelines should help you carry out this task in a correct manner.

  • Analyses of classical pieces should be based on authentic texts. Which texts are used should be specified. Whether these are acceptable is up to your tutor/ supervisor.

  • All popular music analyses should be based on transcriptions of specific recordings or performances. Song sheets and/or song books are not reliable for academic analysis. What recording or performance your transcription is based on should be specified. If a transcription by other than the author is used then the source should be acknowledged. Permission will normally be required to use someone else's transcription.

  • I would recommend that transcriptions should be made in the key of the recording or performance as this ensures greater accuracy and makes it easier for a reader to compare the transcription with a recording.

  • Chord symbols on song sheets/ song books cannot be considered as reliable for a root progression analysis and should not be used. They also have the problem that they don't necessarily take account of any voice leading elaboration.

  • All chord analyses should be based on analyses of note by note transcriptions taking account of the notes of the melody, accompaniment, bass and all other parts. i.e. the total music.

  • Chord analysis should take account of the voice leading surface as indicated on this site and as demonstrated in the Example Musical Analyses chapter. This includes consideration of linear progressions, passing chords, auxiliary chords and appoggiatura chords etc.

  • All music analysed should be segmented into episodes of static and dynamic harmony as specified on The Example Musical Analyses chapter can be used as a guide on how to do this.

  • The music should be segmented into complete and incomplete phrases as specified on The Example Musical Analyses chapter can be used as a guide on how to do this. Chapter 6: Extensions to the basic structure is not currently on the site.


2. What is novel and needs to be acknowledged to the author Tom Sutcliffe

It must be recognised that certain concepts were introduced on and full reference should be made to Tom Sutcliffe as the author of these ideas.

These novel concepts include the following (but not only the following):

Please note, the above is not a complete list. To check whether an idea needs to be referenced in this way then please refer to the Glossary. All such novel ideas or novel uses of a word are indicated with an *.


3. How to reference

If you wish to quote a section of, or use one of the terms as specified on, then:

You should only quote a reasonable length - usually no more than a sentence from a particular section. The quote should be shown in quotes (single or double) and it should be clear who the author is and where on the site the quote is from so that the reader can check the quote in context.

When making a reference, then please make the reference in a way similar to the following examples:

a) using a term as used on

"…. using Tom Sutcliffe's concept of static and dynamic harmony (see ….."


"… using the concept of prolongation as specified by Tom Sutcliffe on"

Note the difference between the last two examples: the first includes new terms introduced by Tom Sutcliffe. The second is a term used elsewhere but with a specific meaning as defined on this website. Please refer to the glossary for clarity on this distinction as indicated in section 2 above.

b) quoting a sentence or section:

According to Tom Sutcliffe (, book outline, Appendix B, "Modal and Blues-modal harmony"):

"… during the 1960's some pop groups started to experiment with modal chord progressions as an alternative way of harmonising blues melodies. . . . This created a new system of harmony that has influenced subsequent popular music."

If you wish to specify the date of writing you can use the version information on the site (see footnotes) to determine what date a section was first added to the site, for example:

"Using the concept of Blues-modal harmony as introduced by Tom Sutcliffe on (2006) . . . . ."

The version control information in footnotes indicates that the popular music section was added in 2006.

Note: the version number at the foot of some pages indicates the last time the page was updated and so is not the correct date to use for reference purposes. The correct date is the date the section was first uploaded as indicated in footnotes

If your institution's standards require you to indicate a place of publication you can show: London, England.

You can place footnotes on the same page as the reference or references to bibliographies at the end of your essay depending on your institution's standards.

The important thing is to show the correct source of the quote or idea.

If you have any queries about this section or about anything else on this site then please contact me at: contact address.


Ver 2.7