If you’re a music theory enthusiast, you may have come across the term “matrix” while studying chord progressions and harmony. A matrix is essentially a visual representation of a series of chords and their relationships with each other. Reading a matrix may seem daunting at first, but it’s actually quite simple once you understand the basics.

What is a Matrix in Music Theory?

Before we dive into how to read a matrix, it’s important to understand what it represents. In music theory, a matrix is used to show the relationships between chords in a chord progression. It’s essentially a grid that displays the chords in a song and how they relate to each other.

How to Read a Matrix

Reading a matrix can seem complicated at first, but once you understand the structure, it becomes much easier. Here are some key elements to look out for when reading a matrix:

The Rows

The rows in the matrix represent the chords that are being used in the song. Each row corresponds to one chord. The name of the chord is usually written on the left-hand side of the row.

The Columns

The columns in the matrix represent the chords that follow each other in the song. Each column corresponds to one chord progression or section of the song. The name of each column is usually written at the top.

The Numbers

The numbers within each cell of the matrix represent the relationship between two chords. For example, if there is a “1” in between two chords, it means that those two chords are next to each other in the progression.

The Colors

Some matrices may use colors to highlight certain relationships between chords. For example, a red cell may indicate a particularly strong or dissonant relationship between two chords.

Why Use a Matrix?

A matrix can be incredibly useful when analyzing chord progressions and understanding the harmony of a song. By visualizing the relationships between chords, it becomes easier to identify patterns and understand how different sections of the song fit together.


Reading a matrix may seem daunting at first, but with a little practice, it becomes an incredibly useful tool in understanding music theory. Keep in mind that different matrices may have slightly different structures and conventions, but they all serve the same purpose of visualizing chord relationships. With these tips in mind, you’ll be able to confidently analyze chord progressions and deepen your understanding of music theory.