What key is this chord progression in? (Diamantina Drover - John Williamson)

Hey All :+1:

Just throwing a question out there. Bit of background, I’m on Grade 1 Module 6, and moving very slowly :roll_eyes: and also Grade 3 Music Theory.
In addition to this I’ve been enjoying reading and watching videos on Chord Progressions and Tonic, Subtonic etc etc :crazy_face: I know, I could be overdoing it a bit :scream: :rofl:

So,……. I’m sitting here looking at a song with the following chord progression for the first verse -

C G Am C F Am ‘Em Dm Am Dm F G Am

So in trying to apply some sense to the general theory of progressions and keys would it be fair to think that the chord progression is I, V, vi, I in the key of C ??

If not, then I guess what I am thinking is how can I look at this chord sequence and work out the progression and key………if that makes sense. :face_with_spiral_eyes:

What confuses me is that as you go through the chords played it’s not as simple as just I, V, vi, I because following that you move to iv, vi, iii chords.

If this is way off piste just let me know and I’ll stop overthinking it :rofl:

How do Craig. Sounds like you’re getting to grips with the subject :+1:

You could apply the IV V ‘trick’ to find the key quickly. It’s discussed in one of Justin’s rut buster lessons:

Hi Dave, brilliant. I hadn’t seen that video so thanks for the link, I’ve just had a look and tomorrow I need to sit down watch it again with the guitar in hand and go through it. I think It did confirm what I had already worked out using the circle of 5ths to a point.

1 Like

Those chords are whly diatonic to the key of C
Does the C chord sound like home base?

Hi Richard
In this instance when playing the first four chords going back to the C to sounds the “most” resolved although not as obviously to me as many I’ve heard.

It is a long and meandering progression, it doesn’t spend much time on C, it doesn’t have the dominant (G) or even the sub-dominant (F) giving that moment of tension → resolution back to C so it will not have that strong home-base feeling.

Key of C major

I = C
ii = Dm
iii = Em
IV = F
V = G
vi = Am
vii = Bdim

Thanks Richard, that absolutely makes sense. I was looking for that strong resolution sound when getting back to the Tonic but it just wasn’t there, and it was the meandering progression that you mentioned that was sort of throwing me off.
Thanks again :+1:

You don’t give the number of bars on each chord, but if I arrange it like this:

C G Am
C F Am 
Em Dm Am
Dm F G Am

it looks like it might be more centered on Am than C, for example if the Am in the first 3 lines lasted 2 measures.

What song is it?

Hi John,

Yes sorry I didn’t even think of that. Its John Williamson - Diamantina Drover. I have a nice vocal for it and was thinking about adding it to my learn list as its not too hard and something I should be able to do justice to, with the exception of the F chord :scream:

Also I realised that there is a continuation of the first Am on the second line that would change things a bit. At first I didn’t think it important but in hindsight :face_with_monocle:

I think this means it is more like
C G Am
Am C F
Am Em Dm

I have nothing to add except to say that it is great to have another John Williamson fan on the forum.

1 Like

We’ll do a JW colab one day :joy: :+1:

I looked up the chords: it seems more like Am tonality, rather than C major. The song (and all verses and choruses) end on Am, which is a pretty strong indication.

Btw, a cool song. I did not know it before.

This cover version has a clear view of chords and lyrics.

On a chord chart it looks like this.

This looks and sounds like the key of A minor (which is the relative minor key to the key of C major).

i = Am
ii = Bdim
iv = Dm
v = Em
VI = F

Notice that there is also no 5 → 1 resolution here either.
In minor keys the 5 chord is diatonically minor in nature. Here v = Em. Very often, that is replaced by a major 5 chord, many times played as a dominant 7 too. So Em would be swapped for E or E7.
None of that is happening here.

The progression is still very rambling … which is keeping with the subject matter of the life of a drover.

Huge thanks again @jjw1 & @Richard_close2u for your input and Richard, appreciate you putting that info together I think I’ve just :exploding_head::exploding_head: :joy:. I recently had an epiphany with the major scales and chords and progressions and was pleased with that but will just take a few days to digest your info Richard regarding the Minor key :+1:.

That cover was definitely a bit different, probably not the way I prefer it but good to hear an interpretation.

Thanks again guys always appreciate people taking time to help out👍

I just noticed that the title of my thread was changed🤔

I changed it Craig.
I thought chord progressions was too vague a topic title and once the song was named I thought why not put it in the title.