Thousands of songwriters are using Gary Ewer’s “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” 10 e-Book Bundle to solve their songwriting dilemmas. Includes “From Amateur to Ace: Writing Songs Like a Pro.” Read More..
- “Royals” (Lorde): D, C and G.
- “Girls Chase Boys” (Ingrid Michaelson): Ab, Db, Fm and Eb.
- “Rude” (Magic!): Gb, Ab, Bbm and Db
The question asked by many up-and-coming songwriters is: How do you find those chords, and how do you get them in the right order?
There are lots of ways to do it, thankfully, which keeps music interesting and songwriting fun. But if you’re really stuck, and would like to have a few hints, check out the following chord progression chart:
Here’s how it works:
- Song Form. This has been calculated for a verse-pre-chorus-chorus kind of song form, but it will also work if you decide to not use a pre-chorus.
- Creating Verse Progressions. In this formula, your verse will focus on the key of A minor. To create your progression, improvise by playing Am, then jump upward anywhere in the stack, and then make your way down as indicated by the arrows. That will give you lots of possible progressions: Am Em Am; Am Dm Em Am; Am F G Am, and so on. The chart ensures that Am remains a focus for your verse.
- Creating Pre-Chorus Progressions. Because in this plan your song chorus is going to wind up in C major, you’ll want your pre-chorus to target C major by focusing on its dominant chord: G. So that’s why G is placed prominently at the bottom, and will give you these possibilities: Dm G; F G; C/E F G; etc.
- Creating Chorus Progressions. Now improvise your chorus progressions in the same way, using C as your tonic chord.
This chart is not meant, of course, to imply that it’s the only way to create chords for a song. It’s just one suggested way of working that should yield some useful results. Feel free to experiment as much as possible, and don’t feel that you must follow the dictates of the chart.
The best use of this chart is as a starting point, getting you going in the right direction. As you generate chord ideas, you’ll probably find that your musical imagination will start filling in the blanks, and you can happily abandon the chart at that point.
Don’t forget that the chart is transposable to any key. I haven’t taken the time to use Roman numerals here, but if you want a refresher on how to transpose using Roman numerals, read this post.
Written by Gary Ewer. Follow on Twitter.
“The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” eBook Bundle packages look at songwriting from every angle, and have been used by thousands of songwriters. How to use chords, write melodies, and craft winning lyrics. GET TODAY’S BUNDLE DEAL.