Useful Tips

Chord sequence


If we talk about writing new songs, there are three points of view on this subject. Three completely different opinions on this matter. Adherents of the first point of view believe that guitarists can either write songs or not and there is nothing to be done about it.

The second point of view is due to the quasi-mystical notion that all the songs have already been invented before, and now you can’t come up with anything new, but you can only change the old songs, remake them.

And finally, the third point of view, which I support, and, for sure, with which you also agree, if you are looking for information on how to write a song yourself. It sounds like this: writing songs is like a craft, with its own set of rules and methods that even a novice musician can learn.

Of course, it would be presumptuous to say that one of the three points of view is one hundred percent correct, but we will adhere to the third. We will equate the ability to write songs with basketball, drawing or shooting plates, all that can be learned.

Of course, throwing a ball in a jump does not guarantee you admission to the NBA, and here too: a lot of information about writing songs cannot turn a budding musician into Paul McCartney or Paul Stanley. The idea is that you will come much closer to realizing your talent.

Spark in chords

Even if it were necessary to limit oneself to viewing pop songs over the past 40 years, the “guide” on writing songs would occupy many volumes, which would entail serious study of musical theory. Our goal is to prove and find a sample of the general progression of chords that you can use with your own songs, and learn some of the things that a guitarist can do to add a more interesting and unusual sound to their songs.

All popular tunes, regardless of genre, are based on chords. Even if the song consists mainly of monotonous riffs (Led Zeppelin in “Black Dog” is a good example) or vocal line acapella, chords and overall harmony are still assumed. Understanding chords, and how they relate to each other, is pretty much the foundation of all pop songs.

Take a look at the illustration below. It depicts triads (chords consisting of 3 notes) of a vocal part composed of the most common keys of C, D, E, G and A.

To feel the spark in the chords, play the sequence of progression I-VI-II-V, which is used in countless pop and rock songs.

Sequence of four chords

If you tune in to a retro wave or just listen to recordings from the 50s, you will clearly hear the sequence of chords I-VI-IV-V. You do not have to be 65 years old to hear a familiar motive. A lot of modern music uses this sequence of chords I-VI-IV-V. So when writing your own song, you can use this particular sequence.

Sequence of three chords

IV-IV and I-IV-V progressions are probably the most used chord sequences in pop music. I will not give examples of songs that use this sequence of chords, but be aware - the number of songs written in this sequence is countless, even some Beatles hits are written using this sequence.

The chord sequences described above can be applied to any key and used when writing your own songs.

I can write songs in chords, but I can’t write a melody in any. Please throw a reference to a lesson about writing a melody on a guitar.

Simple progressions

A chord can be built on any note of the scale, therefore, a seven-note scale creates seven basic chords (for this “key” of the scale), each level of the scale becomes the basis of its own chord. Note chord a la - this is a la a chord of a certain type (major / minor / reduced, etc.). The “function” of a harmonic, in particular of any chord, depends on the context of the particular chord progression in which it is located. (Cm. Function theory)

The diatonic (based on the scale, which includes only seven notes) harmony of any scale results in three major triads. It is also based on the fourth and fifth steps (a tonic called the I chord in Roman notation, the subdominant, ii or IV chord in Roman notation, and the dominant, V or V7 chord - see three-chord song) These triads are combined and subsequently can harmonize every note of this step. Many simple songs such as folk music, traditional music, and rock and roll use these three types of chords (for example, Wild Thing, which used an I, IV, and V chord).

The same level also produces three parallel chord keys, each of which is associated with three major chords. These are based on the sixth, second and third stages of major and are in the same relationship with each other (in parallel minor key) as the three major, therefore they can be considered as the first (i), fourth (iv) and fifth (v) level of parallel minor key. For example, we have the key in C major, its parallel minor key is A minor. In the key of A minor, i, iv v chords will be A minor, D minor and E minor. In practice, the third dominant chord is often amplified (increased) by one semitone to produce a major chord, and also, for this V chord, a dominant Sept chord can be added, which makes the V7 chord. The chords in this alteration will be A minor, D minor and E major (or E7). Apart from these six triads, there is one stage of the scale, the seventh, which gives a reduced triad. Thus, in the key of C major, the seventh note of the scale, C, will become the main note of a diminished triad (notes of C, D, Fa).

In addition, additional chromatic notes can be added to the chord. Chromatic notes are notes that are not part of the key. Returning to our example of the song in C major, this key does not have a sharp or a flat. The key in C major is a white key on the piano. Each chord in C major may have one or more notes in triad with a flat or sharp, which requires the use of black keys in C major. Perhaps the most basic chromatic alteration in simple folk songs is the use of the fourth step in sharp. In a song in C major, the diatonic fourth step of the fret is the Fa. If you add the fourth step one semitone (sharp), you get F #. Although with an F #, ii chord (usually D, F, and Sol notes) consists of D, F #, A notes (a C major chord, technically called a side dominant), these notes are also separated from the initial fret, but the harmony remains diatonic. If new chromatic intervals are introduced, a fret change occurs, or, in other words, modulation, which can introduce a slight change in the center of tonality (simply put, a transition to a new tonality). This in turn can lead to a resolution back to the original key, so the whole sequence of chords helps create an expanded musical form and a sense of movement and interest for the listener.

Although this gives a huge number of possible progressions (depending on the length of the progression), in practice, progressions are often limited to a few measures, and certain progressions are preferred more than others due to fashion (for example, a 12-beat blues sequence), a chord sequence can even define a whole genre .

In western classical notation, chords are built on a fret, numbered in Roman numerals. Before the chord will look like I in tonality Beforebut, let’s say V in tonality Salt. Minor chords are indicated by uppercase Roman numerals, suppose D minor in tonality Before will be written ii. Other forms of chord notation were invented: from the general bass to the chord scheme. These commonly used may even be necessary during certain improvisations.

Simple progressions [edit |

Chord sequence - what is it?

A chord sequence is called musical harmony, composed of triads - chords played on any instrument. They should be in the same key and not disharmonious with each other - that is, they sound natural and beautiful. The ability to create it is the main skill of any musician, since it is with her that the whole process of arranging and composing a song begins. In this article we will consider in detail chord sequences talk about their construction and application in practice.

Using Chord Sequences

Firstly, this, of course, is the composition of their own songs. Knowledge of how build a chord sequence, help you immediately compose a simple melody, without the need to pick it up by ear. You will begin to understand what you are doing and, if necessary, adapt to others.

Besides, the knowledge gained from this article will help you in improvising with chords, which will greatly simplify the process of jamming with the group, and also, again, in composing your own compositions. It is also worth mentioning that the information in this article applies not only to chord progressions, but is generally universal for all music. That is, having learned the material from here, you will understand how harmony and composition work in general.

Chord Sequence Examples

A textbook example of chord progression is the famous "three thieves chords", which are actually a classic blues sequence - Am, Dm, E. They perfectly fit their keys and sound harmonious and even.

Another example also taken from the song is Bm, G, D, A. It is in the key of Bm, and also all the chords perfectly match each other, creating a characteristic blues sound. However, these are only isolated examples that do not illustrate the overall picture.

basic information

To begin with, let's recall what chords are made of. Triads are notes in the gamut that are arranged in a special way among themselves. In the case of minor chords, this tonic - small third - large third , and in the case of major - tonic - big third - small . In this case, the tonic, as we have said, is taken directly from the gamut.

An example of the La Minor gamut

This is the whole trick of building chord sequences - you need to understand which notes on the guitar neck are in the gamut and build triads according to their tonics. But how to understand which notes are included in the key? A thing like the quarto-fifth circle of tonality will help you with this.

Quarto Circle

In total, there are 24 keys, 12 minor, and 12 major - that is, for each of the notes. Of course, classical music considers them a little differently - separating the concepts of flat and sharp, but for the convenience of understanding we will not do this. All of them are built according to their own special principle.

Major keytonic - tone - tone - semitone - tone - tone - tone - semitone with a return to tonic.

Minor keytonic - tone - half tone - tone - tone - half tone - tone - tone with a return to the tonic.

Moreover, often these notes intersect with each other, that is, the same notes can come in different keys. This is obvious and understandable. However, all keys have their own mirror pairs - the so-called synharmonic, or parallel. They have exactly the same notes, and it is for memorizing such pairs that we will present a quarto-fifth circle.

It looks like this:

The most important thing what you need to remember here is that the parallel keys are located at a distance of three semitones from each other. For example, if we take the key in A minor, then from its tonics - A - we need to count three semitones up - La sharp - C - Do - and the last note will be the same parallel major key. Thus, you can, having built up the scale according to the scheme indicated above, understand what notes are included in it, and proceeding from them build a chord sequence.

Of course, at first glance this may seem complicated, but everything is much simpler than you think - the most important thing is not just to read this article, but also to select notes on the guitar.

Key Chord Sequences

Below we will present notes included in parallel keys from which you can build minor and major chords. In addition, you can use this table to better understand the principle of building chord progressions.

Major keyMinor keyIncoming Notes
C majorLa MinorC - D - E - F - G - A - B
C sharp majorA sharp minorC # - D # - F - F # - G # - A # - C
D majorB minorD - E - F # - G - A - B - C #
D Sharp MajorC minorD # - F - G - G # - A # - C - D
E majorC sharp minorE - F # - G # - A - B - C # - D #
F majorD minorF - G - A - A # - C # - D # - E
F Sharp MajorD Sharp MinorF # - G # - A # - B - C # - D # - F
G majorE minorG - A - B - C - D - E - F #
G sharp majorIn F minorG # - A # - C - C # - D # - F - G
A majorF Sharp MinorA - B - C # - D - E - F # - G #
In A sharp majorG minorA # - C - D - D # - F - G - A
C majorG sharp minorB - C # - D # - E - F # - G # - A #

Just use the information from this table and substitute the notes in the order in any order to create beautiful chord sequences. Remember that for most of them you will need to learn how to put the barre on the guitar, so you should consider this skill in your training plan.

Special cases and moments

In addition, there are special cases and moments when chord sequences can go beyond the usual gamut.

  1. Additional raised steps. These include, for example, harmonic minor, where an additional eighth note appears in the gamma, at a distance of half a tone from the last. That is, for example, in the scale of C major, note A # will appear between notes A and B. This will give the tunes an oriental sound, and try experimenting with them. The same applies to pentatonics, the features of which should be taken into account in the issue of harmony, especially if you play the blues.
  2. Chords with add-ons. Do not be afraid to change the standard forms of triads to achieve a more interesting sound. Use and add new notes to already existing chord variations, add tonic and raise steps - simply relying on the circle and the presented table.
  3. Progressive musicians who play structurally complex and interesting music, such as Tool or Pink Floyd, also change and break the rules of harmony. For example, they add the same A # to the key in C major, or add other notes to make it sound interesting. You can do the same - however, in this matter it is worth delving into the study of theory in order to understand which aspects can be violated and which cannot.

General tips

1. Be sure to learn the presented table and remember the quarto-fifth circle of keys to quickly and better navigate inside the music.
2. Learn how to quickly swap chords on a guitar, especially if you want to play interesting tunes by brute force.
3. Train your hearing, especially the audibility of the notes, in order to understand the tonality of the other musicians and, if necessary, play along with them.

Sequences of notes of scales of various keys according to these schemes:


C Major, sheet music: C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C

D major: D, E, F #, G, A, B, C #, D
E major: E, F #, G #, A, B, C #, D #, E
F Major: F, G, A, A #, C, D, E, F
G Major: G, A, B, C, D, E, F #, G
A Major: A, B, C #, D, E, F #, G #, A
B Major: B, C, D #, E, F #, G #, A #, B
C minor: C, D, D #, F, G, G #, A #, C
D minor: D, E, F, G, A, A #, C
E minor: E, F #, G, A, B, C, D, E
F minor: F, G, G #, A #, C, C #, D #, F
G minor: G, A, A #, C, D, D #, F, G
A minor: A, B, C, D, E, G, F, A
B minor: B, C #, D, E, F #, G, A, B

Similarly, you can make a sequence of gamma notes from notes with signs of alteration.

For example, for F # major: F #, G #, A #, B, C #, D #, F
F # minor: F #, G #, A, B, C #, D, E, F #

Please note that in some major and minor keys, all notes included in them, as well as chords, are the same. For example, A minor and C major.
These keys are called parallel. . Learn more about parallel keys.