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Find your chord progression

Methods to find a chord progression

Finding a chord progression involves exploring different combinations of chords that work well together. Chapter Find the right chords describes some methods to help you find your chord progression:

  • Key center: Choose a key and a scale for your chord progression. This will provide a foundation for selecting chords that are harmonically related and create a coherent musical structure.
  • Experiment with diatonic chords: Explore the chords derived from the diatonic scale of your chosen key. For example, in the key of C major, the diatonic chords are C major, D minor, E minor, F major, G major, A minor, and B diminished. Try different combinations of these chords to see what sounds good to you. You can sequence them in different orders, repeat certain chords, or vary their durations to create interesting progressions.
  • Get inspiration from successful songs: Use the Song Analyzer to analyze the songs in your songbook or any other song from the greatest internet song catalogs. The Song Analyzer recognizes the chord progressions and keys of each song. You can simply take these chord progressions into your song and use them as inspiration and a basis for further refinement.
  • Common progressions: Start with some common chord progressions that are widely used in various genres.
  • Chord substitutions: Experiment with chord substitutions to add variation and color to your progressions. You can replace certain chords with others that have similar harmonic functions. For instance, instead of using the traditional I-IV-V progression, you can substitute the IV chord with a ii chord (e.g., C-Dm-G in the key of C major) to create a different sound. The diatonic chords lend themselves to this.
  • Borrowed chords and modal interchange: Explore borrowing chords from related keys or modes to add unique flavors to your progressions. For example, you can borrow chords from the parallel minor or modal interchange to introduce unexpected and interesting harmonic twists. The user interface allows you to enter any chord.
  • Melody-driven progressions: If you have a melody in mind, find chords that complement and support the melody notes. Experiment with different chords that harmonize well with the melody, paying attention to the emotional and melodic flow. If you have the notes of your melody, you can use the Key Identifier to identify the key and scale to get the diatonic chords.
  • Evaluate and refine: Play your chord progressions with the player and listen back to them. Assess how they sound to you and if they evoke the desired emotions or musical direction. Consider the emotional impact you want your chord progression to convey. Experiment with different chord qualities (major, minor, diminished, augmented, etc.) and their combinations to evoke the desired mood or atmosphere. Make adjustments, modifications, or refinements as needed.

Finding a chord progression is a creative process, and there are endless possibilities. Don’t be afraid to experiment, trust your ear, and follow your musical instincts.

Common chord progressions

There are several chord progressions that are commonly used in various genres of music. Here are a few examples:

  • I-IV-V: This is one of the most common and versatile progressions. It involves using the I (tonic), IV (subdominant), and V (dominant) chords of a key. For example, in the key of C major, the I-IV-V progression would be C-F-G.
  • I-VI-IV-V: This progression is frequently used in pop, rock, and country music. It combines the I, VI, IV, and V chords of a key. In the key of C major, the I-VI-IV-V progression would be C-Am-F-G.
  • ii-V-I: This is a classic jazz progression that is used extensively in jazz standards. It involves the ii (supertonic), V (dominant), and I (tonic) chords of a key. In the key of C major, the ii-V-I progression would be Dm7-G7-Cmaj7.
  • I-iii-IV-V: This progression is often found in many pop and folk songs. It includes the I, iii, IV, and V chords of a key. In the key of C major, the I-iii-IV-V progression would be C-Em-F-G.
  • vi-IV-I-V: This progression is commonly used in many pop and rock ballads. It features the vi, IV, I, and V chords of a key. In the key of C major, the vi-IV-I-V progression would be Am-F-C-G.

Other common chord progressions are:

  • I-IV-V
  • I-V-vi-IV
  • I-VI-IV-V
  • ii-V-I
  • I-iii-IV-V
  • vi-IV-I-V
  • I-IV-ii-V
  • I-bVII-IV-I
  • I-IV-V-IV
  • vi-IV-I-V/IV
  • I-V-IV
  • vi-V-IV-V
  • I-V-vi-iii-IV-I-IV-V
  • I-IV-viio-iii-IV-V-I
  • I-V-IV-I
  • I-bVII-IV-V
  • I-IV-I-V
  • ii-IV-I-V
  • I-IV-bVII-IV
  • vi-iii-IV-V

These are just a few examples of chord progressions, but there are many more to explore. These progressions provide a starting point for creating chord sequences and can be adapted, modified, or combined to suit your musical style and preferences. Keep in mind that chord progressions alone do not define a song, but they serve as a foundation for melodies, lyrics, and arrangements. Experiment with these progressions and explore different variations to create your own unique compositions. These progressions can be modified, extended, or combined with other chords to create variations and add complexity to your music. Experiment with different progressions and find the ones that resonate with your musical style and intentions.

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