A company known as HookTheory has produced several useful resources for musicians in the learning phase.
Among these is TheoryTab, a database of thousands of popular songs categorized in various ways. Today I want to show you how you can listen to common chord progression examples by using TheoryTab's songs sorted in this manner.
Listed in 3 sections are chord progressions considered appropriate for Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced players. Each progression is given a unique name that describes where, when, and how to use it. Here's an example:
As you can see, this one is called "Simple Yet Powerful." The IV - I6 - ii progression is a piece of cake but effective. The examples are full of killer artists like Radiohead, The Beatles, The Beach Boys and even Hans Zimmer, the king of movie scores.
They have it stocked with video game songs, anime soundtracks, and examples from all types of genres so you can really get a feel for the chord progression.
The coolest part though is when you click into any given song. It pulls up a beautiful piano roll that can play each part of the song back to you in MIDI or you can check out the full version that's pulled from YouTube. You can loop it, transpose it on the fly (amazing feature by the way), change the tempo, and more. Here's an example of the intro to Styx's Come Sail Away:
This is one of the most useful tools to hit the net in a long time. Check it out here at HookTheory.com. Finding an appropriate chord progression for your song will never be a challenge again. Don't let this become a crutch though.
Learn the theory behind progressions, like the circle of fifths, and you'll be inventing your own that perfectly express the feeling behind your songs.
Another cool option we've shared before are chord maps. Check these out if you want something to print out and put in your pocket.