Guitar and piano

Chord Theory Can Be Complicated, But These Two Things Top the List

There’s a lot you can study about chords — about the way they work, how to choose them, and how one progression relates to another. All of it comes under the large umbrella called chord theory, and it’s a very large umbrella. Some songwriters have a knack for it; it’s not something they have to consciously […]


7 Ways Chord Progressions Affect the Mood of Your Music

If you’re like many songwriters, coming up with a solid progression that supports the mood of your song is an important first step in the songwriting process. The process usually looks bit like this: Improvise (either on guitar or keyboard) some chords that work well together. Find a catchy rhythm that makes those chords sound […]

Finding Alternatives to the Standard I-IV-V-I Progression

The typical 3-chord song has been the workhorse of early rock and roll. Go back to the 50s, and it’s the mainstay of most songs. By 3-chord songs, we’re talking usually about this progression: I  IV  V7  I  (C  F  G7  C) And then, of course, the writer might throw something else in, particularly in […]

Songwriter - Guitarist

How to Know What Key Your New Chord Progression Is In

Let’s say that you’ve been working out a new chord progression, and you’ve found something — a combination of 3 or 4 chords — that really seems to work. The trouble is: you can’t figure out what key that progression is in. How do you identify it? The first question you might ask is this […]

Guitar mic

Working Flat-III, Flat-VI, and Flat-VII Into a Major Progression

First, a Bit of Basic Theory… For any given major key, there are 7 chords that occur naturally, one built on each note of the scale. In the key of C major, that gives you these chords: C Dm Em F G Am Bdim According to the very popular HookTheory website, the 3 most commonly […]

How to Use Non-Diatonic Chords to Great Effect in Your Songs

by Gary Ewer, from “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” website: A non-diationic chord is one which does not normally belong to your key of choice. In the key of A major, the seven naturally-occuring chords are: A, Bm, C#m, D, E, F#m, and G#dim. Of those chords, there are countless ways of modifying them by adding tones (Aadd9, […]