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Nexus Preferences by Genres

By June 24th, 2024Nexus System

Now, we’ve covered all nexuses within prime chords. And during the course you’ve seen that some nexuses are preferred in some genres while in others not, or some nexuses are avoided in some genres while popular in other genres.

So this time I’m gonna review nexuses categorized not by 2nd/3rd/5th , but by music genres, to see how differently each music genres treat them.

1. Classical Nexuses

You’ve learned many about the “former prohibitions”. But as the explanations are spread to multiple articles, you probably still haven’t get the whole picture. Here’s the chart of the major key chord progressions that is thought as “available” or “pleasant” in classical theory1.

Progressions in Classical Music

The logic is simpler than it looks. Music always flows from left to right, cycing TSDT, with only some chances of going back to the left.

  • The 5 chain of 3-6-2-5-1 is the basic line of strong root movement.
  • V can go back to VIm, and VIm can directly go to V too.
  • IV is the place to “drop by”, from left ones to right ones.
  • IIIm is not much involved in general.

In this way, classical music established a regulated chord progression system and cherished the “rational” music that emerged from it. When listening to, say, Mozart’s compositions, you can find many beautiful phrases created from simple I-IV-I and I-V-I progressions.


This is a passage from the end of the “Turkish March”. This section, which consists only of major chords, is a typical style of classical music that clearly distinguishes between major and minor keys.

Understanding Contexts

However, note that, as mentioned in the introduction part, these “manners” were established in the 18th century, and then gradually broken by composers of the 19th century, led by progressive composers like Beethoven. In the works in this era therefore you can find modern rogressions like 6-1-4-1, nothing different from recent EDM.


This is “Nocturnes Op. 9, No.1” by Chopin. What was said to be “unpleasant” or “weak” is beautifully utilized here, and quality-changed IVm can be seen here as well. He would write greatly danceable tracks if he had been born in this age… The song sounds sweet. Nonetheless, these cases are regarded as “exceptional” ones and classical theory books never recommend the use of such nexues like VImI. This attitude is not wrong, for those books are intended to, by just following their content, reproduce works exactly like those of Mozart. However, as a reader, it’s essential to understand the background of these theories. Without it, there might be a misunderstanding like one should also adhere to these manners in contemporary pop music. So, please be cautious.

2. Jazz Nexuses

Typical jazz (around 1920-1950) in fact has similar philosophy to classical music in that 5 is seen as the fundamental progression. But a significant difference between jazz and classical music is that jazz places overwhelmingly greater importance on the 2-5 than the 4-5. Above all, 2-5-1 is the emperor in jazz.

2-5-1 is the simplest form of realizing SDT, with just chaining 5 nexuses. This simple & strong progression is one of the traits of jazz. You can even find songs really composed solely with 2-5-1 and key changes.

The songs above sound very complicated, yes they are complicated, yet the chord structures are almost always based on 2-5-1, 2-5 or 5-1, suprisingly. They embellish chords with many techniques to make the sound richer, such as frequent modulation of the keys, which will be explained on this website in the Chapter VI. Other than 2-5-1, progressions like 1-6-2-5, 6-2-5-1, 3-6-2-5 are popular, all of which feature 5 nexuses!

3. Pops/Rock Nexuses

When it comes to today’s Western pops/rock music, there is a famous classic chord progression; 1-5-6-4.

This progression is very much balanced in terms of the variation in nexuses, using 235 one for each. And tension/release dynamics (functional transition) is also very well balanced; it first creates strong cadence of TDT while the loop point is IVI, the soft landing of ST motion.

In classical music and jazz, which put importance on VI resolution, this progression is not as common. However, in today’s pop music, countless songs is written with this chord progression.

This 1-5-6-4 progression doesn’t have much room for variation. Instead, by rearranging these four, you can create other chord progressions popular in Western pop scene.


For instance, Shifting the starting point of loop from I to VIm, you get 6-4-1-5, giving a lot more dark impression.

The progression is a fixture in many genres such as EDM, hard rock, hip hop, etc.


Again changing the loop point to IV, you get 4-1-5-6.

Though not so popular as 1-5-6-4 or 6-4-1-5, This can be a good choice when you start with S functioning chord. So the cycle is like a “magic circle” from which many orthodox progressions are generated.

US/UK pop orthodox cycle


If you move around the circle counterclockwise, you can also obtain a different pottern, 1-4-6-5. While it may not be as well-known, there are examples of its use in hit songs.

This progression features the soft connection of 3 in 4-6, creating a gentle atmosphere suitable for conveying an expansive and open vibes.

The “magic circle” is so interesting that The Axis of Awesome, an Australian comedy music act, made a video performing a medley of hit songs using the circle. It’s worth watching!

4 Chords | Music Videos | The Axis Of Awesome

The performance starts with 1-5-6-4, and around 2:55 they silently shift the cycle to 6-4-1-5.

4. Blues/Rock Nexuses

In addition to classical music and jazz, blues holds a significant position in music theory as well. This is because blues particularly loves to use the 5-4-1 progression.

This unconventional DS motion is inherited by genres influenced by blues, especially rock ‘n’ roll and rock. For example, “Let It Be” by The Beatles uses 1-5-6-4-1-5-4-1 progression, the combination of the “magic circle” and the blues 5-4-1 cadence.

The influence that rock music had on the music world in the latter half of the 20th century was immensely significant, and with songs like “Let It Be” repeatedly reaching people’s ears, it can be said that the listeners’ acceptance for the DS progression has now sufficiently grown and you can easily find these progressions in any modern popular music. And this has likely led to the popularity of even more challenging chord progressions like “Aerosmith’s 1-5-2-4.” VIV and VIIm are the trait in today’s pop music that you don’t often find in classical or jazz music.

Music with Guitars

By the way, though in this chapter we discuss chord connections exclusively within prime chords, rock songs cross the border of keys quite casually.

The Who - Quadrophenia

The riff in “Quadrophenia” by The Who has a very unique chord progression, F-Dm-E-A-B-C-D-E-F! It’s like a mix up of F major key and F minor key. Such a unique progression clearly comes from the instrument they use—Guitars.
Since a guitar gives you a new chord by just sliding your hand, chord progressions like C-D-E-F can really easily happen to be formed. The rock guitarists don’t care much about the classical major/minor key system and established their new style of music.

Different instruments are optimized for different performances, and when a specific instrument become associated with a genre, the genre forms a new musical style and manner. The relationship between instruments and musical form is an essential perspective not only in the history of music but also in discussing the theory of music.

5. Techno Nexuses

Electronic music often utilizes 3 nexuses, which is not much seen neither in classical/jazz nor blues.

“Computer Love” by Kraftwerk uses 4-6-1 progression. In genres like techno, it seems that 5th nexuses sometimes sound too energetic, forcing a song to move forward and forward, therefore avoided. 3rd nexuses, on the other hand, can create modest chord progressions by virtue of two common tones, which fits the music that needs the sense of “looping”, rather than “expanding” or “developing”.

Music with Sequencers

Again, instruments matter a lot here. Loop based electronic music is often composed with a sequencer, a machine that repeats the same phrase (often bundled with a synthesizer). Let’s say you make a sequence phrase using the chord tones of VIm. You feel like making some chord progression but the sequencer can play but one phrase repeatedly. What other chord can fit to it? —The best choice is IV, the second best is IIm or I, all chained by 3rd nexus.

3rd nexuses and common tones

Since 3rd nexus preserves two common tones, it is relatively easy for a phrase to fit in successive chords remote by 3rd.

“Q” by Kenny Larkin clearly illustrates the situation. The synth leads repeat the same phrase consisting of the chord tones of VIm and the synth pad plays VIm and IV alternately. Thus 6-4 (or 4-6) loop is frequently used among electronic music producers, as explained earlier. And through the surge in popularity of EDM in the 2000s, such progressions have become one of the common vocabularies of popular music. Now you can confirm that the 3 nexus is used in many hit songs.

Ed Sheeran, Pokémon - Celestial [Official Video]

“Celestial” by Ed Sheeran (and Pokémon) is made just with 4-6-1-5 loop. No authentic nexuses like 532 are used here at all! This is where we are at now in this 2020s.

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