Tailor-Made Chord Progressions For Songwriters

Verse, chorus and bridge progressions usually differ from each other, but need to connect somehow. Here are some examples.

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Song Energy - Flaming GuitarOne of your most important tasks as a songwriter is to create songs that immediately grab your listeners, and keep them listening. It’s why we think so much about song energy. It’s why song energy generally needs to increase as songs proceed. You do want moments of energy lull, but only so that you can build it up again. In surprisingly relevant ways, a map of your song’s energy levels should resemble a stock market chart: lots of ups and downs, but generally upward over time.

There are lots of ways you can build energy in your songs, and hopefully you’re doing most of them: increasing volume, building instrumentation, moving melody lines upward- that sort of thing.

The energy that comes from well-crafted chord progressions is vital to the success of your music. The progressions that you use for your verse, chorus, bridge, and other sections, will quite likely all differ from each other. But at the same time, there needs to be a connection between them.

What you really need to do is to create a kind of verse progression that begs for a certain chorus progression, which then leads to a particular bridge progression, and so on.

You probably already spend a fair bit of time noodling about with chord progressions, getting them to work. But if you really just want some progressions that work so that you can get on with writing your songs, try playing through some of the examples below. The examples are in C major/A minor, but are of course transposable to any key.

Each progression includes a verse, chorus and bridge progression that connect well to each other, but the bridge is optional. The progression for each section should work fine on their own. And feel free, of course, to modify and replace chords as you see fit. The verse and chorus progressions, in particular, will likely need to be repeated before moving on.

You’ll notice that the bridge progressions do what they often should do, which is to take the harmonies on a little journey away from the home key, and then bring them back again. So each bridge progression can be followed by either a verse or a chorus.

Click on the speaker icon for each one. A new browser window will open, and you’ll hear each progression in basic long-tones. You can play them in any style or tempo you choose; they’ll work for up-tempo dance, rock, pop, country, ballad, or any other genre.

  1. Listen VERSE:  C  F  Dm  G  Am  F  Dm  G ||CHORUS:  F  G  Em  Am  Dm  G  F/C  C  || BRIDGE:  Am  Dm  Eb  F  Bb  Gm  Cm  F  Gm  Eb  F  Dm  F/G  G  F  G
  2. Listen VERSE:  F  C  Dm  C/E  F  C  Dm  G|| CHORUS:  C  Dm7  C/E  F  C  G/B  Am  G  || BRIDGE:  C  F/C  C  G/C  Em  F  D  G  E  Am  B7  Em  F  C/G  Gsus4  G
  3. Listen VERSE:  Am  G/B  C  F  Em  F  Am  G  || CHORUS:  C  F  C  G  C  F  C  G  || BRIDGE:  Bm  Em Bm7  Em  F  Bbmaj7  Dm  G  Bm  Em  Bm7  Em  F  Bbmaj7  Esus4  E
  4. Listen VERSE:  Am  Em  Am  G  Am  Em  F  Em || CHORUS:  C  F  G  Am  C  F  Am  G  || BRIDGE:  F  Dm  Am  Dm  Cm  Bb/F  F  Bb  F  Dm  Am  Dm  Eb  F  Am  G
  5. Listen VERSE:  Dm  G  Am  C  Dm  G  Am  G  ||CHORUS: Am  F  G  Am  Am  F  G  Em  || BRIDGE:  C  F  G  Am  Em/G  F  Am  G  C  F  G  Am  Em  F  G  Am
Keep in mind that you are completely free to modify these in any way as suits your song’s melody. Repeat chords, even repeat two or three chords before moving on. Use your imagination!

Take them as starting points. And remember an important fact about chord progressions: the faster the tempo, the fewer the chords. Fast tempos with lots of chords can make a song feel frantic or panicky. As mentioned, how you use the progressions is entirely up to you.

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Written by Gary Ewer, from “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” website.
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