Considering the Waltz is really a dance style more than a musical style, I’ve taken a few liberties in this list of waltz chord progressions.
I’ve tried to mostly take progressions from classic waltzes, but I’ve also grabbed a couple popular 3/4 songs that could be used to dance the waltz.
So with that, enjoy my list of 7 waltz chord progressions.
1. I V7 I7
This progression is from what I consider to be the most famous waltz every written, “The Waltz of the Flowers” by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Of course you’ll recognize the song as being from The Nutcracker ballet.
These chords are played beneath the primary melody in the song, and while they appear to be quite simple the intricacies of the orchestra keep them from being static.
Chords from the song: D flat major, A flat dominant 7, D flat dominant 7
2. I V7 I IV
While I consider “The Waltz of the Flowers” to be the most famous waltz, there is another waltz that comes close (and arguably surpasses) to it. This waltz chord progression comes from the most recognizable section in “The Blue Danube Waltz.”
This song has permeated pop culture as long as I’ve been alive (and surely long before that), and it’s one of those songs that everyone knows, but few know the name of.
Chords from the song: D major, A dominant 7, D major, G major
3. V vi I iii II I
This ‘waltz’ chord progression comes from “Iris” by The Goo Goo Dolls.
“But it’s not a waltz!” you say. And you would be mostly right. But again, since waltz is more of a dance than a style of music, I’ve put a couple songs on my list that aren’t really waltzes, but you could dance a waltz to them.
This song falls into that category. Since a waltz is just a dance in 3/4 time, then we can basically call any song in 3/4 a waltz.
Chords from the song: D major, E minor, G major, B minor, A major, G major
4. I II7 V7 I
This chord progression comes from “Blue Skirt Waltz” by Frankie Yankovic, Chet Atkins and Margaret Bailey. This song is a classic polka waltz, and something that you mind find being played at a wedding.
Related List: 7 Famous Polka Chord Progressions
While the accordion is usually a prominent instrument in polka music, it’s more of an accompanying instrument here, while the guitar playing of the legendary Chet Atkins takes center stage after the vocals.
Chords from the song: G major, A dominant 7, D dominant 7, G major
5. I IV I IV
Traditionally, when you think of waltz music you think of classical waltzes. I felt I should include one more classic waltz and this chord progression comes from “Sleeping Beauty Waltz” again by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
Coincidentally, this song is from another, lesser known, ballet called The Sleeping Beauty.
Chords from the song: F major, B flat major, F major, B flat major
6. I VI VII
This is another chord progression from a more recent popular song that happens to be in 3/4 time. This one is from “Kiss from a Rose” by Seal. I figure this song is one of the most iconic love songs I know, and as such you could very well hear it at a wedding with some waltzers on the dance floor.
This chord progression doesn’t fit cleanly into the G major key, so pay attention to the intervals between the chords in the song below.
Chords from the song: G major, E flat major, F major
7. i ii III ii
I’m not sure if everyone would call this a waltz, but you could certainly dance the waltz to it. Regardless, it sounds like a waltz to me.
Related List: 10 Nostalgic Chord Progressions
This is from “Song of Storms” from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and written by the legendary Koji Kondo. Maybe not on quite the same level of complexity and beauty as other songs on the list, but for me it’s just as influential.
Chords from the song: D minor, E minor, F major, E minor
Writing Waltzes of Your Own
As we’ve mentioned already several times, a waltz is a dance, not a style of music. This means that basically any song with 3/4 time could reasonably be considered a waltz. So the definition of a waltz chord progression is incredibly vague.
It’s not a clear cut thing, but I still think we can find some commonalities in the music, particularly the traditional classical waltzes.
Here are some of the common themes I heard during my research for this article:
- 3/4 Time – this is an absolute requirement for a waltz. Waltz is literally defined as a dance done in 3/4 time, so if it has a different time signature then it’s not a waltz.
- Hits on 2 and 3 – It’s very common in classical waltzes to have the first beat in the measure be weaker than the second and third beats
- I and V – Lots of the classic waltzes use the I and V chords
Of course lots of the classic waltzes use a full orchestra, but if you can arrange a piece for a full orchestra then you shouldn’t be taking advice from me.