A Simple Way to Create Minor-Sounding Verses

It’s a common characteristic of many songs in the pop genres: a minor-sounding verse that moves to a major-sounding chorus. You might think that means you need to create two completely different progressions.

But let’s say that you’ve worked out a good chorus hook, and now you’re trying to create a verse that partners well with it. Here’s a quick and easy trick to take a chorus progression and turn it into something that works nicely in the verse, and prepares the arrival of the chorus hook.

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First, write out your chorus progression. The progression below is shown in C major. You can hold each chord as long as you want, but let’s assume you’ll change chords every two beats (i.e., two chords per bar):

I  bVII  ii  V  (C  Bb  Dm  G) (Click below to listen)

Next, place a vi-chord at the beginning of the progression, and then follow it up with the chorus progression:

vi  I  bVII  ii  V  (Am  C  Bb  Dm  G) (Click below to listen)

To make the verse progression the same length as your chorus progression (four chords), simply remove one of the chords from the chorus progression. I’ve opted to remove the final G:

vi  I  bVII  ii  (Am  C  Bb  Dm) (Click below to listen)

Creating a verse progression in this way has an important advantage: it uses the chords from the chorus progression, but because the I-chord, which was on beat 1 of the first bar, is now on the second half of the bar, it sounds similar but different.

The similarity makes it an idea partner. The fact that it now starts with a minor chord makes it an ideal verse progression.

There are a few ideas you can try to modify what I’ve suggested above:

  1. Start your verse on a different minor chord: ii or iii.
  2. Remove a different chord to make it the same length as the chorus progression. I opted to remove the final V-chord, but you should experiment with other possibilities.
  3. Use the chorus progression idea as a start for your verse, and then create an entirely original second half to a verse progression.

Gary EwerWritten by Gary Ewer. Follow Gary on Twitter

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  1. Nice idea, Gary. It’s going into my compendium for referenced. Unless my ears are tricking me, though, I believe the chord following the C major is not F but Bb.

    • Hi Wayne:

      Thanks for catching that typo… I started with ‘F’, but decided I liked Bb better, which I changed in the Roman numerals, but forgot to change in the actual chord sample.

      Thanks again!

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