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 […]

Guitar and Piano

How Bridge Chords Work in Most Songs

A bridge (or middle-8) is the section that usually follows the second chorus of a song. Back in the earlier days of rock & roll, that bridge was likely to be strictly an 8-bar section, but these days the definition has allowed for a lot more creativity. In general, though, you can expect a bridge […]

Brian Wilson

Creating Musical Surprises In Your Chord Progressions

Chord progressions, even in music that sounds innovative or novel, are usually the most predictable part of a song’s design. A song might have lyrics that are hard to understand, and use odd instruments, time signatures or unpredictable melodic ideas, but chords are usually the most easily understood part. That’s why I often use landscape […]

Band rehearsal

Choosing the Chords That Work With Your Melody

You’ll notice that when you’ve got a melody, the notes of that melody imply the chords you’re likely to use. That’s not to say that you’ve got no choice in the matter, of course. For every chord you might use, there is a list of chords that could serve as substitutes. Just as an example, […]

A Simple Way to Create an Interesting Verse Progression

If you like the chords-first songwriting process, but lately you’re coming up dry when it comes to good chord ideas, try this: Create a short, simple, 3-chord progression in some major key: I-IV-V-I (example: C  F  G  C) Repeat that progression. Follow it with the relative minor equivalent of that: vi-ii-iii-vi (example: Am  Dm  Em […]

Piano and guitar - mixolydian mode

The Beauty of Chord Progressions in the Mixolydian Mode

A modal scale, for the purposes of what you’ll need to know for good songwriting, is one that starts and finishes on the non-tonic note of a major scale. That may seem like a mouthful, but here’s all it means: If you play a C major scale, you’re playing the notes C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C. But let’s say […]