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Do you find that your songwriting gets stuck at the chord progression stage? When this happens, it’s usually attributable to a common misunderstanding about chords: the need for chords to be unique. You’re probably aware of a hilarious video by the Axis of Awesome that showcases dozens of songs that all use the same chord progression. Though they make the point with humour, it’s actually true: you can write unique songs by using already-used progressions.
I’m not suggesting that you give up your search for a great progression, but coming up with something that hasn’t been done before is almost, if not completely, impossible.
“Writing a Song From a Chord Progression” is an eBook (high quality PDF format) that describes the best way to write songs by starting with chords. A must-read for those who like the chords-first approach. Part of the Deluxe “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” Bundle package.
And the fact is, one of the most important characteristics of chord progressions is the fact that on some level, they need to be at least a bit predictable. This is not a weakness, it’s a feature.
So if you simply want to get going writing something, and you don’t want to spend all day finding chords that work, try these 7. They’re the kind that you can repeat over and over again, and they form a really nice sequence that audiences will love:
- E B C#m A – This is the “Axis of Awesome” progression that accompanies so many songs. It works because it incorporates strong 4ths and 5ths movements of the roots, from E to B, and from A back to E. The C#m acts as a little “deceptive cadence” moment.
- E A G#m A B E – Try this one by holding each chord for 2 beats, with the G#m being held for 4. The G#m is a iii-chord, which is actually not all that common in pop music.
- C G/D C/E F G F/A G/B C – A great progression that results in an upward-moving bass scale.
- C G/B Am Am/G F C/E Dm7 C – A harmonized descending bass line.
- C A7 D7 G C – A progression that uses “secondary dominant chords”. Basically, whenever you change a chord that’s usually minor (in the given key) into a major one, and follow it with a chord whose root is a 4th higher, you’ve created a secondary dominant.
- C G/B Am F Fm C – The Fm in this progression is called a “modal mixture”, and adds a nice melancholy flavour to your song.
- Dm7 G7 Cmaj7 Fmaj7 Bm7(b5) E7 Am7– A really nice jazz sequence.
Numbers 3 and 4 work nicely in partnership with each other. If you choose to follow 3 with 4, try replacing the final C chord with a G or G7.
A lot of what makes chord progressions work centres on the issue of strong versus fragile progressions. Here’s a video I did recently that explains that concept:
“The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” e-book bundle will show you how to write great songs, harmonize your melodies, and give you hundreds of chord progressions in the process.
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