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24.11.

2015 CreatingChordProgressionsThatAlwaysWork,inAnyKey|TheEssentialSecretsofSongwriting

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CreatingChordProgressionsThatAlways
Work,inAnyKey
PostedonApril10,2012byGaryEwer

Noodlingwithchordscanhelpcreatesongwritingideas.But
howdoyoudothiseffectively?

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Ifyoursongsareallsoundingthesame,youmayfindthat
yourestartingthemallthesameway.Generallyspeaking,how
youstartasongwilloftendeterminehowasongendsup
sounding.Soitsimportanttoexperimentwithvariouswaysto
getthesongwritingprocessgoing.Melodyfirst,chordsfirst,
lyricsfirst,rhythmfirstandsoon.Ifyoufindthatyouregoingthroughabitofa
roughtimecreatively,andyoujustcantseemtocomeupwithsongwritingideas,
noodlingaroundwithchordscanhelpcreatesomemusicalfragmentsthatwillfinally
getyoursongstarted.

Butwithliterallyhundredsofchordstochoosefrom,whatdoyoudo?Fortunately
theresaneasywaytogetthosehundredsnarroweddowntoasmallerhandfulof
chordsthatallworktogether:

1. Chooseakey.Ideally,yoursongisgoingtobeinakeythatmakesthe
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24.11.2015 CreatingChordProgressionsThatAlwaysWork,inAnyKey|TheEssentialSecretsofSongwriting

mostsenseforsingingthevocalline.Butsincemusiciseasily
transposable,dontworrytoomuchaboutthis.Chooseakeythatseasyto
play.
2. Createachordlistfromyourchosenkey.Everykeyhassevenchords
thatoccurnaturally.Theyrethechordsthatarebuiltoneachnoteofthe
majororminorscale.IfyourchosenkeyisCmajor,thesevenchordswill
be:CDmEmFGAmBdim.
3. Startonthetonic(key)chord.Notallprogressionsstartonthetonic
chord,butforthepurposesofgeneratingsongwritingideasitservesasa
goodstartingpoint.
4. Afterthetonicchord,followitwithanything.Thisisimportantto
remember:thereisalogicbehindhowchordprogressionswork.Butonce
youveplayedatonicchord,youcanleaptoprettymuchanychordinyour
listofsevenchords.
5. Afteryoursecondchord,mostadjacentchordsinaprogression
shouldhaverootsa4thor5thapart.Agoodestimatewouldbetohave
70%ormoreofthechordsinyourprogressionmovingtothenextoneby
theintervalofa4thor5th.
6. Considertheauthenticcadence(VI)oraplagalcadence(IVI)tobea
solidwaytoendaprogression.Soasyouworkthroughyourimprovised
progressions,aimingforoneofthosecadencesasanendingpointgives
yourchordsasolidfoundation.

Thosesixstepscankeepyourchordprogressionimprovisationsfrombeingatotally
randomprocess.Byusingthose6steps,Icameupwiththefollowingprogressions:

1. CAmEmAmDmGC.
2. CFDmGEmAmDmGC
3. CGDmAmDmFC
4. CEmAmDmGFC
5. CDmCFDmGC

Thoseareverybasicprogressions,butthatdoesntnecessarilymeantheyreboring.
Oneofthebestthingsyoucandoforyoursongistocreateprogressionsthatstay
outoftheway,andjustwork.Butifyourelookingtoaddafewinterestingchordsto
themix,trythefollowing:

1. Modalmixtures.Amodalmixturemeansthatyouregoingtoborrow,so
tospeak,achordthatwouldnormallycomefromtheoppositemode.We
know,forexamplethatanFchordinCmajorisamajorchord.Sotryusing
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24.11.2015 CreatingChordProgressionsThatAlwaysWork,inAnyKey|TheEssentialSecretsofSongwriting

Fm.Ithasapleasantlynostalgicsound.Example:CFDmAmFFmC
2. Secondarydominants.Tocreateasecondarydominant,lookforaminor
chordfollowedbyamajorchord,wheretherootofthemajorchordisa4th
higher(or5thlower)thantheminorchord.Thensimplyturntheminor
chordintoamajorone.Example:IntheprogressionDmGC,youcan
turntheDmintoasecondarydominantbymakingitmajor.Sothe
progressionbecomes:DGC.
3. Otheralteredchords.Analteredchordisonethatdoesntnormallycome
fromthechosenkey.Otherthanmodalmixturesandsecondarydominant,
otherstandardfavouritesaretheflatVI,theflatVII,andtheflatIII.Sotry
addingsomeofthoseintoyourprogressions.Example:CEbFC,andC
FAmAbGFC.

Whatkeepsaprogressionfromsoundingrandomisthepredominanceofroot
movementsof4thsand5ths.Soasyouimprovise,itsoftenbesttoavoid
progressionsusingchordswhoserootsmoveupordownbystep.

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WrittenbyGaryEwer,fromTheEssentialSecretsofSongwritingwebsite.
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PostedinChordProgressionsandtaggedchordprogression,creating,guitar,improvisingchords,keyboard,piano.

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OneComment

createmusic
June1,2014at6:39am Reply

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