Songwriter - Pianist

Chords That Eventually Find the Tonic

In music, the tonic chord is the one that represents the key. So for a song in C major, C is the tonic. To use a metaphor, it’s home. Progressions may meander around seemingly aimlessly, but once you play the tonic chord, you sense relaxation: you’re home. Are you a chords-first songwriter? Are you getting […]

Kris Kristofferson

The Power (and Danger) of Quick Changes Within Songs

There’s a concept in music that applies to chord progressions called harmonic rhythm. That term is used to describe how frequently (i.e., how quickly) chords change, especially in relation to how many notes of melody happen between changes. As you know, some songs use progressions where each chord is strummed for a relatively long time before […]

Piano and Guitar - creative chords

Simple Hacks For Better Chord Progressions

If you’re bored with your chord progressions, you’re likely to opt for throwing them out and creating ones that are more creative. The problem with that approach is that you can wind up with chords that just don’t work well together, all for the sake of finding something more interesting. If you’re serious about songwriting, […]

Neil Young

Songwriting: Pivoting Between Major and Minor

When writing a song, it seems logical to assume that it will be either in a major or minor key, and you simply have to choose which one. But there is another option, which is to allow the song to start minor, switch quickly to major, then back to minor, and so on. You’d be […]

Bruno Mars - Mark Ronson

Key Suggestions for Song Sections

You know that there are many songs where verses and choruses are in different keys. When it comes to questions about chord progressions that I receive, the most common kinds of questions relate to that issue: how to get from one key to another in a typical song. It’s not unusual for a song to […]

Using Deceptive Cadences to Make Chord Progressions More Interesting

I mentioned cadences in my last post. A cadence is the end of a musical phrase — the end of a line of music or lyric. Sometimes that cadence sounds temporary, when the lyric sounds like the a pause in the middle of a sentence (at a comma), and sometimes much more final, like the […]