Keyboard & Guitar

Avoiding the Constant Return to the I-Chord

If you’re looking for ways to make your progressions a bit more interesting without being too weird, there’s a simple modification you should consider: simply avoid overusing the I-chord. In a standard I-IV-V-I progression (C-F-G-C) the I-chord is the tonic chord. It’s the one that represents your song’s key. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with its use, […]

Elton John

Creating Long Chord Progressions That Work

It might surprise you to know that most chord progressions, regardless of the genre of the song you’re looking at, are relatively short. Comparing verse to chorus, you’ll find that verse progressions tend to be a bit longer on average, involving more chords, but even so, progressions that use more than 6 or 7 chords are […]

Mike Rutherford, Genesis

Building Musical Energy With a Dominant Pedal

In a movement from a classical symphony, the music isn’t divided up into verses and choruses as is typical for pop songs. You’re more likely to see reference to sections called “1st theme”, “2nd theme”, “transition”, “development”, “coda”, and so on. With pop songs, you get a definite feeling that the basic energy of the music changes […]

Drake - Controlla

Deciding Where in a Song a Chord Progression Belongs

It’s quite possible to use a single chord progression in every section of your song, such as you might hear in “Controlla” (Drake et al). But if you do choose to use the same progression throughout a song without changing it, it’s the kind of progression that needs to sound tonally strong. A strong progression simply […]

Guitarist - Songwriter

Simple Changes to Simple Chords Can Yield Amazing Results

If you have a chord progression that works but doesn’t do much to inspire you, you can of course toss it and look for another. But with the simplest of changes, you can take a progression from being mundane to something much closer to awe-inspiring. So let’s say you’ve got the following simple progression: C […]

What Do We Mean When We Say That a Chord Progression “Works”

I’ve written a fair bit about chord progressions lately, because it’s the most popular topic on my blog. When I take a look at the stats, it’s normal to see that 8 out of the 10 most popular posts deal with some aspect of chords. Recently I received an email from someone who asked me […]