Guitar - altered chords

For Making More Complex Chord Progressions, Start Simple

You may not think of many of the early Beatles songs as using complex or unusual chord progressions, but for their day, they were noticeably creative. Where so many other early- to mid-era rock and roll songs were barely straying beyond the basic I-IV-V-I kinds of progressions, The Beatles were throwing in modal mixtures, secondary […]

Guitar - Songwriter

5 Tips For Using a Chords-First Songwriting Process

A chords-first songwriting process has a few challenges that need to be dealt with. One of the main problems is that there is a tendency to focus more on the chords than on the melody. That can lead to songs that don’t have enough of a tune to be memorable. “Hooks and Riffs: How They […]

KISS - Beth

5 Most Common Chord Progression Problems

Innovative, unique chord progressions are tricky, because in most pop songs the chords have an important function: provide a simple way — a musical path or road, so to speak — to move away from the tonic chord and then back again. It really is that simple. “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” eBook bundle includes “Writing a Song […]

Singer - Open mic

When a Song Sounds Bad, Take a Look at the Structure Underneath

When a song sounds great, we like to think that there’s a certain magic involved. But if you are a student of songwriting, as most good songwriters consider themselves to be, you’ll know that it’s not magic that makes a song great. A song sounds great when it follows basic musical principles. And we love […]

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 […]

Piano and guitar - songwriter

How the Chords You Use In Your Songs Create (or Inhibit) Momentum

Forward motion, or momentum, is an important characteristic of songs. Simply put, momentum makes one moment of a song lead naturally — sometimes almost impatiently — to the next moment. If you hear a verse that seems to “beg for” the chorus, that’s an important characteristic of momentum. Audiences aren’t usually thinking in terms of […]