A song with a tricky chord progression

I’ve been tasked to play a song for a children’s class with a tricky chord progression (and was requested to play in this particular key… I think it’s Eb major?)
It’s in 4/4 time.
Verse goes Bb-Eb-F-Bb
Chorus goes Cm-F-Dm-G, then Cm-F-Bb

The song: Righteousness, Peace, Joy in the Holy Ghost - YouTube

Any tips for practicing the chord progressions, in terms of making the changes faster + not straining my fingers too much? Any finger exercises to recommend to prep my fingers for the chord changes?

FYI: for Eb, I find I’m most comfortable playing it this way although it’s still a stretch. & I often tend to accidentally strum the open 5th string which clashes >.<

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Hi @amandalyt , it seems to me this is in the key of Bb. One approach would be to play it in the key of A (i.e. 1/2 tone lower) and capo on the 1st fret to bring it to the requested key. Here’s how the chords would go:

Bb → A
Eb → D
F → E
Cm → Bm
Dm → C#m
G → F#

These chord shapes in A are more familiar and easier to play.


If you put a capo on the 6th fret you can use this chords to play it in the same key…but the advantage is only you have 3 barre chords instead of 4! But you can avoid that tricky Eb.
The transposed chords are:

Bb = E
Eb = A
F = Bb
Cm = Fm
Dm = Gm
G = C

To make your life way easier you can ask to play it in the key of A as already suggested or move it up only one tone and play these chords:

C F G Dm F#m A


As @jjw says, the song is in the key of Bb
If you are uncomfortable with barre chords, it might be easiest to play it in the key of C as @silvia suggests. (You can play a mini-F and country G for minimal finger movement)
Verse C F G C
Chorus Dm G Em A, Dm G C (not F#m I think)
You could try tuning your guitar down by a full tone to play along with the original? :thinking:
Oh, yeah, take everything I suggest with a pinch of salt :wink:


oh my tried this out and the key matches + its far easier! Thank you! (:partying_face:

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not sure if my fingers can manage barring at 6th fret but thanks for the suggestion !
I did ask if we could move the song to C major, but the pianist couldn’t transpose, she was more comfy following the sheet music which was already in a different key… so I had to transpose myself >.<

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thanks for the suggestion (and yes it sounds like Em not F#m)

by tuning the guitar down by a full tone, do you mean tuning it to: (from 6th string to 1st string) F-B-E-A-C-F?

No, I would have thought the other way :thinking:
You are playing the key of C which is a tone higher, so you have to tune your guitar down to compensate.
Having said that, I usually turn my clocks the wrong way twice a year :rofl:

Hey, it’s just math :laughing:

Anyway, glad I could help.

@brianlarsen Brian is correct Amanda. When people refer to tuning down they refer to lowering the pitch by reducing string tension. So the thickest string that in standard tuning is E gets tuned down to a lower note, sometimes Eb (a semi tone) or D (a full tone). Tuning the thickest string to F would be tuning up by a semi-tone tone to a higher pitch.

Also note in your question that it is a semi-tone up from E to F and a whole tone from A to B. So to be consistent you’d tune the E to F#.

A neat trick to remember is that if you tune down you reduce tension on the strings which can make learning barre chords easier. If you tune down a semi-tone then to play the usual F full barre chord you’d place a capo on the first fret.

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How would the overall song sound playing triads against the piano? Might be worth checking out.

Cheers, Shane

Yes it is Em :see_no_evil:

It might be worth have a try as you actually have to press less with index up there and you might find it easier, pressing on the 1rst fret for a regular F and Bb is quite hard.

Tuning your guitar down as @brianlarsen and @DavidP have suggested seems a great trick as well :bulb::bulb::bulb: I never tried that.

Just see what works best for you :blush:

Hi, I am arriving a bit late to this conversation, but as tuning up above the standard tuning was mentioned while obtaining clarification of what was being advised, I want to add than tuning up the strings above standard tuning can make them break and even cause damage to the guitar. If the string doesn’t break first, the tension can be well above what the screws and glue are designed to hold specially if all the strings are tuned up above standard tuning at the same time.