The Sensitive Female Chord Progression

You’ve heard variations of The Carlos Santana Secret Chord Progression of course, but did you know about The Sensitive Female Chord Progression?

Here’s an easy way to see if a song uses the Sensitive Female Chord Progression: Just sing Joan Osborne’s lyrics: ‘What if God was one of us? Just a slob like one of us?’ over the suspect four chords.

That’s right, and Boston Globe columnist Marc Hirsh, quoted above, has an entire blog devoted to the SFCP, including an ever growing list of songs that use this particular chord progression, by artists as diverse as The Doors, Alice Cooper, Britney Spears, Toto and Guns ‘n Roses.

So what’s the secret of the SFCP? Jack Perricone, chair of Berklee College’s songwriting department, says:

The mixture of chords gives the progression emotional heft. It starts on a sense of maybe disquiet. In a sense, it’s three-quarters major and one-quarter, but a very important quarter, being minor. And I think that has to do with credibility, what people experience in life… I mean, that’s not a bad mixture, one-quarter sadness or darkness and three-quarters light.

How about Zappa? I can’t think of an FZ tune that goes Am-F-C-G right this very minute, but I’m sure you will.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have tickets to book for next year’s Lilith Fair!