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Chord change G-Em-C-D


The Minor Parallel


The change between G major and E minor is particularly easy. By the way, memorize that E minor (written "Em" for short) is the minor parallel of G major.

In many songs you don't necessarily have to change to the minor parallel, you can simply continue to play the major chord. However, the slightly softer sounding minor chord can also replace the major chord. Minor chords are often used to make certain bars sound a little softer. It is commonly said that a minor chord sounds sad. It is true that it is relatively easy to write sad-sounding songs with minor chords, but there are also sad-sounding songs that consist mainly of major chords. Here, in most of our song examples, the minor chord serves more to build momentum for the next major chord. This allows the song to be much more spirited. Later on in the folk diploma, you will get to know songs that are written entirely in a minor key. Remember, however, that Em is the minor parallel of G major.

  Key G major
with minor parallel

Chord change G - Em - G and Em - C - Em in the diagram


Even if the individual fingering changes are quite close together here, only practise the change between two chords at first. As soon as the upper half of the diagram works, you can practise the lower half. The arrows indicate two cycles, which are first practiced separately and then later one after the other.

from G major to E minor
  1. Middle finger stays in place
  2. Little finger away
  3. Ring finger under the middle finger
  From E minor to G major
  1. Middle finger stays in place
  2. Ring finger diagonally upwards
  3. Little finger rolls into place
from E minor to C major:   from C major to E minor:
  1. Raise ring and middle finger
  2. The middle finger goes down one side
    down and takes the ring finger with it.
    But this one waits here in
    waiting position until...
  3. ...the ring finger goes to its place (as before in G major) .
  4. Index finger to its place
Concentrate here on the middle finger
  1. Index finger away
  2. Raise ring and middle fingers
  3. Middle finger one higher
  4. Ring finger under the middle finger
Concentrate on the middle finger here too

This position of the fingers appears very often with major chords (G C F D).


This appears in Em and Am and A major.


Chord change G-Em-C-D

A real Schu-bi-du-ba

Chord progression G-Em-C-D is a "16-45" in G major. To designate the chord steps in a key, simply count through the notes of the corresponding scale.

  • G=1, Am=2, Bm=3, C=4, D=5, Em=6, (F#m7/b5=7)
We derive the chord degrees from the G major scale.

No panic! You don't have to learn any notes here. You should only understand how the chord steps come about. This will give you at least a rough idea of what the terms are about if you come across them in a tutorial on the Internet. You will learn all the special features of scales and chord names at a later stage.


In harmony theory, the pitches are usually given in Roman numerals.


You can assign a triad or a chord to each note and thus a chord step to each chord.


The 1st degree is called the tonic (T), the 4th degree the subdominant (S) and the 5th degree the dominant (D).


The 6th degree is called the tonic parallel (t), the 2nd degree the subdominant parallel (s) and the 3rd degree the dominant parallel (d).

These triads from the theory of harmony represent all the possibilities of playing a chord on the guitar.

In this way, one could play the degrees of the G major scale with simple chords.


You don't need to be interested in the unknown chords at the moment. Sooner or later you will get to know them soon enough. Today we are only interested in the first, sixth, fourth and fifth chord steps in that exact order.




or shorter

a 16-45 in G

So today we have learned about the tonic parallel E minor (Em) of the G major scale.


The chord progression is also called "50s progression" or "ice cream changes". Presumably because young people in the 50s liked to meet in an ice cream bar with a jukebox.

First practise the change G - Em - G. If this works smoothly, practise C - Em - C until this also works flawlessly. Then practise the complete chord progression G-Em-C-D.





Again, it makes sense to think of the ring and middle fingers as the "center of gravity" of the chord. This way, the teacher has no problem displaying the chords without having to announce them (leaving more time for singing or other corrections). G is at the top, D is at the bottom, Em is at the top right (as seen from the player) and C is somewhere in the middle (as it sometimes makes sense for C to be displayed a little to the left or a little to the right of the middle; see D C G).

The chord combination is a regular cycle that is very easy to memorize and therefore very easy to learn.


Audio sample

One chord for two bars
One chord per bar


Song Examples:

At first, practice mainly songs with the chord combination G-Em-C-D. Especially prefer those where each chord is held for two bars. After a very short time, the change will become automatic and you can focus more on singing. The chord sequence G-Em-C-D makes the following lesson with the quick chord change easier. The other suggested songs will be for repetition later.


To do:
Find more public domain songs with the chord progression G Em C D (without quick chord change).

  1. Spanish Lady (Irish Folk)
    YT   Spanish Lady
  2. Whiskey in the Jar
    YT   Whiskey in the Jar
  3. YT   His Latest Flame (Elvis Presley) (!!!) © G Em (X-x) C D ...
  4. YT   Love the Lord © G G Em Em; C C D D (Hymn)
    The order of the chords remains the same, but the duration varies.
  5. YT   Stand By Me (Ben E. King) //: G G Em Em; C D G G ://
  6. YT   Let's Twist again (Chubby Checker) //: G G Em Em; C C D D; G G Em Em; C D(7) G G; C C G G; C C D D(7) ://
  7. YT   Hey Hey Baby (Refrain) G G Em Em; C D G G
    The pop formula G D Em C or Em C G D
  8. YT   Someone Like You (Adele)(Original In A = Capo 2. Fret)
  9. YT   Superman (Boyce Avenue)
  10. YT   Under The Bridge (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
  11. YT   When I Come Around (Green Day)
  12. YT   80 Millionen(Max Giesinger) C G D Em
  13. YT   Flash Mich (Mark Forster) easy: Em C G D or (Em G) C G D (original)
  14. YT   Geiles Leben (Glasperlenspiel) Em C G D (Capo = 1)
  15. YT   Namika Lieblingsmensch (Namika) Em C G D
    Compound chord progressions with G Em C D and/or G D Em C
  16. YT   Father and Son (Cat Stevens) © //G D Em C; G Em C D// at the end of the son(C D) G C G C
  17. YT   Let it Be (Beatles) © G D Em C; G D C G // Em D C G; D D C G
  18. YT   Country Roads (John Denver) © //: G G Em Em; D D C G ;// G G D D; Em Em C C; G G D D; C C G G
    other with Em
  19. YT   Das Ist Dein Leben (Philipp Dittberner)
  20. YT   Wir sind groß (Mark Forster) © Em G D C
  21. YT   99 Red Ballons (Nena) D Em G A (Possibly with capo 2nd fret and an add an A between the verses)
  22. YT   Lady in Black (Uriah Heep) © Em---; D D Em Em
  23. YT   Dieser Weg (Xavier Naidoo) © G D Em Em (Original is a semitone lower)
  24. YT   Walking in Memphis (Marc Cohn/Cher) C C D D; G G Em Em (hier die höhere Version von Cher)
  25. YT   Viva La Vida (Coldplay) © (!!!) //: C C D D; G G Em Em :// (instead of Bm in the original just play G)
    Accompaniment suggestion: 4/4 + campfire beat
    1 . 2 . 3 . 4 . | 1 . 2 + . + 4 .
    A - A - A - A - | A - A V - V A -
    1 . 2 . 3 . 4 + | . + . + 3 . 4 .
    A - A - A - A V | - V - V A - A -
  26. YT   (Photograph (Ed Sheeran))



Not all songs can be played in one lesson. The rest are for later repetitions of the teaching material; for latecomers who have missed a lesson so that the others don't get bored, and as a break filler when some of the upcoming lessons become too strenuous and you want to play something that will be easy again.

Campfire strumming
Campfire Diploma  
Quick Chord Change
(4) G-Em-C-D