How To Build Chord Progressions In Your Songwriting

maxresdefaultOften when discussing songwriting, we divide it into its two main elements, words and music. But just as lyrics contain a multitude of sub-categories and considerations, so does music. It contains the melody of the song, of course, the single-line sung tune which transports the lyrics. But unless a song is a cappella, though, that melody does not exist on its own, but within the harmony – the pattern of chord progressions -- that surrounds it. So all savvy songwriters develop over time a vocabulary of chord changes, and one that is hopefully always expanding, to inspire, empower and enrich melodies.

Because not only will the chords enhance a melody with momentum -- the propulsion of the tune –- and a foundation, they also are vital to the generation and discovery of new melodies. Although some legendary melodists, such as Burt Bacharach, have spoken of their inclination to compose melody apart from any chords, the majority of songwriters discover and invent melodies by playing chord progressions, both ones they knew and new ones they devise.

The best way to learn about these progressions and see them in action is to reverse-engineer songs you love. How did John Lennon, for example,  create that greatly visceral and swampy vibe of “Come Together”. All you got to do is go online to find its chords, as you can now with virtually any famous song, so as to ascertain immediately how he did it. As you can with any famous song, from Cole Porter through Sia and beyond.

What becomes quickly evident if you do this much, is that all the songs we know are either diatonic... Sign In to Keep Reading

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