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 […]

Neil Young

Songwriting: Pivoting Between Major and Minor

When writing a song, it seems logical to assume that it will be either in a major or minor key, and you simply have to choose which one. But there is another option, which is to allow the song to start minor, switch quickly to major, then back to minor, and so on. You’d be […]

Singer-Songwriter

Manipulating the Tonic Chord For a More Effective Verse

It’s usually not hard to know that a song we’re listening to has reached the chorus. We’ll notice that the chord progression will get shorter and simpler, and target the tonic chord more. The melody of a chorus is often made up of short, catchy, hooky bits that get repeated over and over, and the […]

Sting - Every Breath You Take

After Verse and Chorus Chords, What To Do About the Bridge?

Most pop songs, and all the related genres such as folk, country, etc., use simple, strong chord progressions. In fact, when you go back and look at complex prog rock tunes from the early to mid-seventies, you might be surprised to see that chord choice is not nearly as adventurous as you might think. Complex […]