Relative Minor Vamps I-vi-I-vi

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Relative Minor Vamps
(I-vi-I-vi)

"Omitting the “F” and “G” chords in the “C-Am-F-G” doo-wop progression creates the “C-Am” relative minor vamp. This vamp moves back and forth between the tonic and relative minor, alternating between major (happy) and minor (sad) confusing our sense of key. The relative minor vamp is sometimes repeated before moving to the “F” and “G” chords creating an extended doo-wop progression. An example of this variation is the opening verse progression to Jan & Dean’s 1963 hit Surf City shown below.

C / / / Am / / /C / / / Am / / /

The box below shows other examples of this type of variation. A jazzy tritone substitution for the “C-Am” relative minor vamp is the “Cmaj7-Eb13” progression. The last four examples are “Am-C” displacements created by simply reversing the order of the two chords in the “C-Am” vamp." (Excerpt from Chord Progressions For Songwriters © 2003 by Richard J. Scott).

C Am -Maybe Baby verse (Crickets – 1958), Dream Lover verse (Bobby Darin – 1959), (‘Til) I Kissed You verse (Everly Brothers – 1959), He Don’t Love You chorus (Jerry Butler – 1960), Travelin’ Man verse (Ricky Nelson – 1961), Calendar Girl verse/chorus (Neil Sedaka – 1961), Runaway bridge (Del Shannon - 1961), His Latest Flame verse (Elvis Presley - 1961), Shout verse (Joey Dee & The Starliters – 1962), Locomotion verse (Little Eva – 1962), Baby It’s You intro/outro (Shirelles – 1962), Having A Party verse (Sam Cooke - 1962), Johnny Get Angry chorus (Joanie Sommers – 1962), Anna Go To Him verse (Beatles – 1963), From Me To You intro (Beatles – 1963), You've Really Got A Hold On Me verse (Miracles - 1963), Not A Second Time verse (Beatles – 1963), Sukiyaki verse (Kyu Sakamoto – 1963), I Only Want To Be With You verse (Dusty Springfield – 1964), Any Way You Want It verse/chorus (Dave Clark Five – 1964), Needles And Pins verse (Searchers – 1964), I Go To Pieces chorus (Peter & Gordon - 1965), Catch Us If You Can verse (Dave Clark Five – 1965), Run For Your Life verse (Beatles – 1965), At The Zoo verse (Simon & Garfunkel – 1967), It’s Cold Outside verse (Choir – 1967), Itchycoo Park chorus (Small Faces – 1968), Nobody But Me verse (Human Beinz – 1968), Mrs. Robinson chorus (Simon & Garfunkel – 1968), My Sweet Lord chorus (George Harrison – 1970), Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours verse (Stevie Wonder – 1970), Doctor My Eyes chorus (Jackson Browne – 1972), Love’s Theme verse (Love Unlimited Orchestra – 1974), Heartache Tonight verse (Eagles – 1979), Shake It Up verse (Cars – 1982), Shame On The Moon verse (Bob Seger – 1982), I'm On Fire intro (Bruce Springsteen - 1985), A Matter Of Trust verse (Billy Joel – 1986), and Fantasy verse/chorus (Mariah Carey - 1995)
C [E7]-Am - Viva Las Vegas verse (Elvis Presley – 1964)
C-C/B Am- A Well Respected Man verse/chorus (Kinks – 1966) and Instant Karma verse (John Ono Lennon – 1970)
C-C+ (3x) Am- Strange Magic verse (Electric Light Orchestra – 1976)
C Am7-Am7/G- On And On verse (Stephen Bishop – 1977)
C A- (Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay chorus (Otis Redding – 1968)
C [B5-Bb5] A [Bb5-B5]- One Way Or Another verse (Blondie – 1979)
Cmaj7 Am7- Buttons And Bows A section (from “Paleface” – 1948) and What’s Going On verse/chorus (Marvin Gaye – 1971)
Cadd9 Am- Can’t Get It Out Of My Head verse (Electric Light Orchestra –1975)
Cadd9-C (2x)Am9- Eye In The Sky verse (Alan Parsons –1982)
C-Cmaj7-C7 Am-A7 - Let’s Stay Together chorus (Al Green – 1971)
C – [G/B] Am – [G] C America verse (Neil Diamond – 1981)
C A-Am C Heart Of Glass verse (Blondie – 1979)
- Am C When Johnny Comes Marching Home verse (Folk – 1898), (Ghost) Riders In The Sky verse (Ramrods - 1961), Soldier Of Love chorus (Arthur Alexander – 1962), Greenback Dollar verse (Kingston Trio – 1963), It Won’t Be Long chorus (Beatles – 1963), All I’ve Got To Do verse (Beatles – 1963), Let’s Live For Today verse (Grass Roots – 1967), El Condor Pasa verse (Simon & Garfunkel – 1970), I'm On Fire outro (Bruce Springsteen - 1985), and Bad Boys (Inner Circle – 1994)
- Am C+ - C All My Loving chorus (Beatles – 1964)
- Am C-[Bm] Leader Of The Pack recitation (Shangri-Las – 1964)
- Am7 C Wish You Were Here intro (Pink Floyd – 1975) and Da Ya Think I’m Sexy? chorus (Rod Stewart – 1978)
- Am/E C11 Wouldn't It Be Nice chorus (Beach Boys – 1966)

If you want to learn more about chord progressions containing the vi submediant chord, take a look at the following lessons:

Doo-Wop I-vi-IV-V Progressions (MoneyChords)
Standard I-vi-ii-V Progressions (MoneyChords)
The vi-chord - relative minor (Olav Torvund)


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