If you are an aspiring musician or a music enthusiast, you might have come across the term pivot chord in music theory. A pivot chord is a chord that is shared between two different keys and acts as a connection point between them. In this article, we will explore the concept of pivot chords in music theory in detail.

What is a Pivot Chord?

A pivot chord is a chord that appears in both the old key and the new key. It acts as a harmonic bridge between the two keys and helps to smooth the transition from one key to another.

How does it work?

The simplest way to explain how pivot chords work is through an example. Let’s take a look at the following chord progression:

C – Am – F – G

In this progression, we start with the key of C major and end with G major. However, we can also view this progression as starting in A minor and ending in F major. The pivot chord in this case is F, which appears both as IV (fourth) chord in C major and as VI (sixth) chord in A minor.

As you can see, by using the same pivot chord (F), we are able to move seamlessly from one key to another.

Types of Pivot Chords

There are two types of pivot chords: diatonic and chromatic.

Diatonic Pivot Chords: Diatonic pivot chords are chords that belong to both the old and new keys. For example, in the key of C major, the diatonic pivot chords for the key of G major would be C, G, Am, and Em.

Chromatic Pivot Chords: Chromatic pivot chords, on the other hand, are chords that do not belong to both keys but are altered so that they can fit into both keys. For example, in the key of C major moving to D major, we could use a Bb chord as a chromatic pivot chord.

Why use Pivot Chords?

The use of pivot chords is a common technique in music composition. It helps to create smooth transitions between different sections of a song or between different keys. It also adds variety and interest to a song by allowing for key changes without abrupt modulation.


In conclusion, pivot chords are an essential tool for any composer or songwriter. They provide a harmonically smooth transition between two different keys and add interest and variety to a song. By understanding how pivot chords work and how to use them effectively, you can take your music composition skills to the next level.