Interesting Chord Vamps for Song Intros

Some interesting 2- and 3-chord vamps to try for your next song intro.

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Songwriting PianistI’m not a huge fan of the “vamp-until-ready” type of song intro, only because I think there are more interesting ways to start a song. And these days, with listeners developing an ever-shortening attention span, vamping chords until Verse 1 starts might be causing you to lose your audience before the 10-second mark, if you haven’t done anything to make those chords interesting.

“Vamping” simply means playing a short chord pattern over and over, and it can work as an intro if the chords you choose branch out from the basic I-IV vamp.

So here are some interesting chord vamps that you might not have considered before, and can serve as the starting progression for your song. Logic would tell you that for 2-chord vamps, you’ll play each chord for 2 or 4 beats each. But try experimenting; Holding each chord for 3 beats changes the time signature to 3/4. You can also create an alternating 4/4 – 2/4 meter by holding the first chord for 4 beats and the second one for 2.

Clicking on each progression below will open a new browser window or tab, where you can hear a sample piano rendition of the chords. Close the window/tab to return to this page.

2-Chord Vamps

  1.  C  Bb
  2. C  Eb
  3. C  Am
  4. C  Fm
  5. C  Ab(add9)
  6. C  Gm7
  7. C  Dm7

3-Chord Vamps

For these chords, start by holding the first chord for 4 beats, with the next two chords held for 2 beats each. Then try experimenting:

  1. C  Am  Bb
  2. C  Eb  F
  3. C  G  Bb
  4. C  F  Dm
  5. C  Dm  Eb
  6. C  Bb  Eb
  7. C  Gm  Eb

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