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The original progression is in a minor key, and runs as follows: i VI VII III. The effect is a temporary toniciziation of the relative major key--in other words, the music temporarily sounds like it's going to the relative major key. This is frequently followed a chord like v or VII, and even if not, repeated instances of this progression. This progression is used in ways similar to the use of the first four chords of the Circle of Fifths in a minor key (i iv VII III).
However, that may be hard to distinguish from its relative major key, and would in fact count as vi IV V I if in major, making this a variant of The Four Chords of Pop. In this case, this functions as a derivative of the Authentic Cadence (V I). And again, it tends to be repeated a lot...often using the same transition chord, too (iii, which is the same as v in the relative minor).
This list contains both relative minor (i VI VII III) and relative major (vi IV V I) examples.
Relative minor examples (i VI VII III)
- The trope namer is Dvořák's "Humoresque" #7 in G flat major. This link goes to the middle section of the piece, where it most famously appears.
- Briefly in the first movement of Ludwig Van Beethoven's violin concerto, when the second theme temporarily goes to minor.
- Mike Oldfield includes this progression in his famous song "Moonlight Shadow". Listen to the first four chords when the voice comes in. Listen to them repeat.
- From the Mega Man X 4 soundtrack:
- the prologue theme in the Japanese version: Yukie Nakama, "Makenai ai ga kitto aru"
- Storm Owl's stage theme, which is composed entirely of this progression. Each loop consists entirely of 18 instances of this progression spanning two keys (A minor and C sharp minor).
- Part of Jet Stingray's stage theme, starting at 0:14, contains two instances of this progression.
- The theme tune of the two Ef series.
- Final Fantasy X: When the main melody of "To Zanarkand" comes in.
- "Heart of Gold" by Neil Young, when the harmonica comes in, and again when the voice comes in.
- The opening theme of Stellvia of the Universe, "Asu e no Brilliant Road" by Angela, right at the beginning and subsequently the beginning of each chorus.
- Two phrases (1:21 and 3:06) in the middle of the "Chess" piece from Chess uses this progression. At other times it follows the traditional Circle of Fifths and uses iv instead of VI.
- The ending theme of Kiddy Grade, "Future", features this in the chorus.
- The Tales of Symphonia animé theme "Starry Heavens" has this at the beginning of the song and of the chorus.
- Used in Xaiver Naidoo's song "Sie sieht mich nicht".
- Editor's note: Where in this song is it used? Here is a link to a YouTube upload of the song if someone wants to help find it.
- Talk Talk's "It's My Life" in the prechorus.
- The chorus of Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer".
- Near the end of the first boss battle theme of the Magic Knight Rayearth SNES RPG.
- In the Rockman Dash (i.e. Mega Man Legends) soundtrack, the insert song "Your Wind is Blowing", combines the Humoresque Progression with the Circle of Fifths, by changing one chord of the latter so that the former is embedded in it.
- The first half of the verse of "Time After Time" by Mai Kuraki.
- The beginning of the verse of "Take a Shot" from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha.
- Near the beginning of "Koi no Minoru Densetsu" from Lucky Star, when the guitars come in. (But not the song it's a parodying, "Koi no Mikuru Densetsu" from Haruhi.)
- The verse of "Forever", the opening theme of Elemental Gelade, by Savage Genius.
- The beginning of the title theme of Monster Tale, though it uses a major I chord rather than a minor i chord as is standard (Amaj Fmaj Gmaj Cmaj, rather than Amin Fmaj Gmaj Cmaj).
Relative major examples (vi IV V I):
- "So Serious" by Electric Light Orchestra: chorus
- apple 41: "Puzzle", composed for Vocaloid Miku Hatsune: intro and chorus
- The first part of the chorus to REO Speedwagon's "Take It on the Run."
- The fourth (and final) ending theme of Eureka Seven, "Canvas" by COOLON.
- "Crash Into Me" by Dave Matthews Band.