One of the most commonly used chord progressions - in both classical and popular music - is the cycle of fifths chord progression. Here is an example from the Minuet from J. S. Bach's French Suite:
In this section we are in the relative major key (Eb) and by following the cycle of fifths Bach returns to C minor. It is known as the cycle of fifths chord progression because all the chords are at a fifth or fourth distance: F - Bb - Eb - Ab - D - G - C.
This progression is exactly the same used in Les Feuilles Mortes song (Autumn Leaves) by Joseph Kosma:
A common variation to this chord progression is to change each chord into a dominant of the next chord. This example is from Tchaikovsky's Morning Prayer from his Album for the Young op. 39:
In this passage every chord is the dominant of the following chord. F# is the dominant of B, B of E, and the process continues until we arrive to the tonic chord. Here are the same chords but in root position:
We will now look at some interesting variations made to this progression by Bach and Chopin...