10 Chord progressions with borrowed chords

A borrowed chord is a chord from another key or mode. It’s used to spice things up and make things interesting.

You can either ask yourself where you want to borrow from or simply improvise with some chords on your guitar. There are several ways you can do this. We will focus on the parallel key in this article/lesson.

C Major Example.

Relative key is A minor. Parallel key is C Minor

When you borrow chords you are not really modulating you are simply borrowing a chord. If a progression continues in the borrowed chord’s key then you have modulated, whether for 1 measure or longer. The length of the modulation can be quick or it can extend over a whole section or piece.

10 Progressions to get you familiar with borrowing chords.

Some of these examples are in the same key for ease of understanding.

Progression 1

E C B7 B A B7 E …in this progression here the C chord is borrowed from the parallel key of E Minor.

Progression 2

E C F#0 B C#m7 F#m7 E – this progression has a bVI and ii half diminished. It borrows two chords both from the Parallel key of E Minor. The C is part of the key of E minor and so is the F#0.

Progression 3

E A D D#o G#m Am B7

The D and Am come from the E minor parallel scale.

Number 4

C F G Ab G7 C – the Ab came from the parallel key Cm.

Number 5

C Ab F G Ab7 Db/F G7 C

The Ab above comes from Cm. The Ab7 is the V chord of the Neapolitan chord in first inversion. Notice how the F is in the bass that leads to the G in the next chord. Only one borrowed chord here.

Number 6

A F#m B07 E7 A Am

The B07 comes from the parallel key of Am (A Harmonic minor). The Am chord at the end also comes from that the parallel.

Number 7

A Em E F#m G F#m E7 A

I borrowed the G and Em from the parallel key of Am. (A Natural Minor)

Number 8

A Dm A E A – Dm is taken from the parallel key of Am.

Number 9

A D E A#4 B7 E A E7 A

A#4 is borrowed from Em. This is a modal chord. I borrowed the A#4 from E Harmonic Minor. Just for kicks.

Number 10

G D G C Bb Am D7 G

Bb is from Gm.

There are  many ways to put a borrowed chord in a progression. I highly suggest you experiment.

Experiment with your own borrowed chords or use some of the ones here to get familiar with them they can really add spice to a chord progression.

If you don’t know the chords in a key, and would like to… go here.