songwriter - guitarist

Transposing Simple Chord Progressions to Create Something More Interesting

Do you find yourself wishing that your chord progressions were just a little more interesting? Here’s a quick tip for taking something that’s basic and simple to come up with something that sounds more imaginative: transpose your progression. Here’s what I mean. Let’s say that you’ve been improvising on a simple progression like: C Dm […]

Guitar and Piano

Changing the Starting Point Within a Chord Progression

The tonic chord, which represents the key of your song (or song section), acts as a kind of tonal anchor: it sounds like “home”, and when you move away from it, your ears automatically listen for its return. You hear that easily in this basic progression: C  Am  Dm  G7  C If you look deeper […]

Derek and the Dominos

Using a Key Change as a Musical Surprise

In most songs, key changes happen for any one or more of the following reasons: It raises musical energy. The most typical example of this is the song that has a minor key verse, then switches to a major key chorus. That brightening of the key from minor to major increases musical momentum as it […]

Guitar - chords - songwriter

Fitting Melodies to Chords, and Vice Versa

Melody notes only sound right if the chords underneath them fit properly. If you’re a chords-first songwriter, you need to say it the other way — chords only sound right if the melody you eventually write fits them. But in any case, good songs are a partnership between melodies and chords, and then they need to […]

Julia Michaels - "Issues"

Getting a Song Working Before the Recording Process

When we talk about musical energy or momentum, we’re often talking about how loud, quick or rhythmically complex a song is. We think of songs that have energy as songs that get us moving. But in fact, energy is more complicated than that. All songs have energy, even the very quiet, slow ballads that are […]

Singer-songwriter-guitarist

Matching a Chord Progression to the Mood and Message of Your Song

In yesterday’s post I wrote about two-chord progressions, and how a song practically never suffers from a chord progression that’s short or boring. While that’s true, it doesn’t mean that a chord progression can’t help strengthen your song’s structure. If you’re hoping to give stronger meaning to your lyrics by using more creative chords, you […]