Utilizing Degree Names (Part 1) / Music Theory Lesson

Author: sleepfreaks

Using Degree Names in Song Writing

In this article, we will be taking a look at utilizing the degree names from our last article.

In part 1, we will be taking a look at

    • how to add famous chords progressions or chord progressions that you like into your repertoire


As there is no copyright on chord progressions, you can use whatever progressions you find.

The previous knowledge of 21. Memorizing Diatonic Chords Using Roman Numerals (Degree Names) is crucial so check out this article first if you haven’t yet.


Analyzing Songs Using Degree Names

Lets first give this sample a listen.

Perhaps you have heard this before, but this is “Pachelbel’s canon”.
This chord progression is used in many songs till this day.

Lets take a look at the bars in the first 4 bars of this song.

First we must know what key it is in.
If we have notation, we can easily find this out by seeing where the # are.

  • Melody


  • Chord


The key with 2 # is…


It is D major.

Next, we will check the chords.


If you don’t have notation, you can extract the melody and chords from the song to figure out the key.

  • Melody

It is made up of primarily D major scale notes.

  • Chord


By taking a look at the chords and the key chart…
All of the chords are diatonic chords in D major.

Lets try changing the chords found in canon to their degree names.



The process of changing the chord progressions to their degree names
is often called analysis.

By analyzing songs, you can put them in various keys in various songs to use them in your own work.

In our next article, we will be looking at the following:

  • Changing the song key
  • Analyzing famous chord progressions in degree names

Article Writer: Kazuma Itoh

講師 伊藤
After moving to the USA at 18 years of age with a scholarship from Berklee, he completed a 4 year study focused on song writing and arranging there.
Using this knowledge, he works across a variety of fields from pop music, film music, and more.