An Idea for Moving From a Minor Verse to a Major Chorus

If you convert a minor progression to roman numerals, it’ll often work when you transpose it to a major key.


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Taylor Swift - StyleIt’s a common feature of music in pop genres to use a mainly minor key approach for the verse and switch to major for the chorus. The most common way to do this is to consider the entire song to be in a major key, but focus on minor chords from that major key for the verse, switching to mainly major chords for the chorus. Example: “Style” (Taylor Swift). Verse: Bm-G. Chorus: D-G-D-G…

One other way to achieve this is to do the following: create a verse progression that sits solidly in a minor key, then transpose the entire progression up a 3rd so that it sits just as solidly in the relative major key. Here’s how to do that.

  1. Create a list of 7 chords from A minor. That gives you this: i (Am)  ii (Bdim) III (C)  iv (Dm)  (V) (Em) (or E)  VI (F) (VII) G.
  2. Using the same chords, come up with a second list that considers the C chord to be a I-chord. Those will be your major key chords: I (C) ii (Dm) iii (Em) IV (F) V (G) vi (Am) vii (Bdim)
  3. Now create your minor key progression. Something like this will work:  Am  F  Em  F  Dm  Em  F  G (i vi V vi iv v VI VII). This can be repeated as much as you’d like to form your song verse.
  4. Using the same roman numerals, create the equivalent progression in a major key. That gives you this: C  Am  G  Am  F  G  Am  Bdim.
  5. Adjust any chords that don’t suit your taste. For example, the Bdim chord can be a difficult one to use. You might try Bb, or perhaps a G chord that uses a B in the bass: G/B.

The benefit to creating a major progression that uses the same roman numeral sequence as a minor progression is that it creates a strong relationship between the two. They operate as harmonic partners, acting as a kind of musical glue that strengthens the relationship between verse and chorus.

Another idea is to use a minor progression for the first part of your verse, switching to major for the second half.

Here are some other roman numeral progressions (using C major/A minor) that you might want to experiment with:

  1. i  iv  V  VI. (MINOR: Am  Dm  E (or Em)  F; MAJOR: C  F  G  Am)
  2. i  VII  VI  V  (MINOR: Am  G  F  E (or Em); MAJOR: C  G/B  Am  G)
  3. i  V  VI  ii  III  iv  V  i (MINOR: Am  Em  F  Bdim  C  Dm  Em  Am; MAJOR: C  G  Am  Dm  Em  F  G  C

______________Gary Ewer

Written by Gary Ewer. Follow on Twitter“The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” 6-eBook Bundle looks at songwriting from every angle, and has been used by thousands of songwriters. How to use chords, write melodies, and craft winning lyrics.  (And you’ll receive a FREE copy of “From Amateur to Ace: Writing Songs Like a Pro.“)

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  1. Pingback: Interesting Links For Musicians and Songwritiers – April 3, 2015 | Creative Music | Inspiring Musical Creativity

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