Many of the songs from the first portion of the 20th century follow a very logical pattern around the Circle of Fifths. So, instead of memorizing the chord progressions to hundreds, if not thousands, of individual songs why not memorize the one chord progression many of those songs are based upon?
That chord progression is known as the I-III7-VI7-II7-V7-I (one-three/seven, six/seven-two/seven-five/seven-one). After moving from the I to the III7 the progression is nothing more than a series of resolving dominant seventh chords until it arrives back where it started at the I.
Being a ukulele player you probably already know a number of songs that use this chord progression, most notably, Five-Foot-Two. Here’s how the progression looks laid out on the Circle of 5ths.
|Using the Numbers
You’ll find this complete pattern, or parts of it, in a lot of the music from this era. But since we don’t want every song to sound like Five-Foot-Two, we can alter some of the chords in the progression and create a different sounding song like All Of Me.
The basic chord progression of All Of Me is based on the I-III7-VI7-II7-V7-I. However, when we get to the II7 we substitute the ii minor chord. The song then jumps back to to the III7 to start the third line. You can make a cheat sheet for the chords in whatever key you choose.