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 - songwriting

Getting Creative With Chord Progression Charts

Consulting a list of chord progressions can be a great thing for songwriters who just want to explore new sounds and find new directions for their music. And since chord progressions usually can’t be protected by copyright, you’re free to take them and use them however you want. (See my collections here.) But if all […]

Keyboard - Chord Progressions

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 […]

Lady Gaga

When a Verse and Chorus Are In Different Keys

Having the verse and chorus in different keys is not rare if you consider the number of songs where the verse is mainly in minor, and then the chorus switches to the relative major. Sometimes the minor-major relationship is a different one, like Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” (Stefani Germanotta, Rob Fusari), which has a verse in […]

Cream -Sunshine Of Your Love

Changing Key to Keep a Great Melody Going

Let’s say that you’ve got a verse that consists of a short melody and chord progression that repeats several times before it reaches the chorus. That might start to sound boring to you, and I want to suggest a way to alleviate that boring sense of repetition. How much a short melody can or should repeat before moving […]

Keyboard & Guitar

How to Change Key in Mid-Stream

Songs, especially in the pop genres, normally end in the same key they start in. But every once in a while you’ll come across songs that feature key changes in various spots. This is called modulation in music theory circles. One of the most common key changes happens in the final chorus repeats, when the key […]