For Song Chord Choices, Try Minor in the Verse, Major in the Chorus

Moving from minor to major gives a very natural energy boost to your music.


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Songwriting PianistPractically all songs you’ll hear today are in a key, which means that the chord progression points to one particular chord as giving a sense of “home”. Once you know what that key is, you’ve got seven chords that exist naturally in that key.

If, for example, your song is in G major, the seven chords that naturally occur in that key are: G, Am, Bm, C, D, Em and F#dim.

Using those seven, and in particular the I, IV and V chords (G, C and D) will make that G chord sound like the main tonic chord. And that’s certainly not to say that you wouldn’t use other chords. Chords that don’t exist naturally in a key can make music very interesting, and add a freshness to your songs.

But you will want to create chord progressions that make G sound tonally important. That’s especially true of the chorus.

So here is something you may want to try: Out of those seven chords previously mentioned, try creating chord progressions that focus on the minor chords for the verse, and major chords for the chorus.

By doing so, you get the benefit of a chorus energy boost that comes from the brightening of the shift from minor to major.

For some examples, try experimenting with the following:

  1. VERSE: Em  C  Em  Am (repeat as desired). CHORUS: G  C  Am  D…
  2. VERSE: Am  Bm  Am  Bm  Em D  Em  D.  CHORUS: G  Em  Am  C  G…
  3. VERSE: Bm  Em  D  Em  Bm  Em  Bm  D. CHORUS: G  Am  G/B  C…

The nice thing about a minor verse and a major chorus is that it takes your song from sounding dark and brooding to being bright and positive. It has the effect of being a key change, while in reality all the chords come from G major.


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