When you guys write a chord progression, assuming you're writing it before you've thought of a melody, what's your process for coming up with it? Do you pick a key, work out the chords within that key and stick to those? Or is it more of a random, fiddling about kind of process? Do you think of established formulas (I - IV - V and so forth), or do you try to avoid those?

I have to say I take more of a random approach, relying mostly on my ear and fiddling about. I find working out and sticking to chords prescribed by a major or minor scale a total bore. Maybe it ends up being that way, but I rarely work it out like that. I find the theory of it most helpful when I'm stuck for the next chord, and theory helps suggest what might sound good.

What about you?
I'm still at the picking a key stage. I suck with random fiddling lol Give me time tho
Go by feel. Don't know enough theory to do otherwise.
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i learn songs constantly to build up a library of licks, an ear for intervals and ideas for rhythms. then it's just a case of fiddling around in whatever key im playing in.
Quote by demonofthenight

I've been thinking about another method of writing progressions though. I might post again if I can find the words needed to describe it.

I like the word scrupulous, sounds cool. try using scrupulous! or you could try "mutually exclusive" I've noticed people like to use that in forums a lot to make them look intellectual, maybe that'll work.

on topic: sometimes I get em just fiddling around, other times I'll actually be looking for a particular feeling and see what I can come up with using a mixture of fiddling and theory.
I find it much easier (and it gives me a better finished product 99% of the time) to write a melody and put chords to it. If you write your melody first, the chords will have natural places behind that, rather than writing a melody to fit with a bunch of chords.
I usually just find a chord that sounds cool and write around that.

I wrote a whole progression around a D# augmented/ E chord the other day. I'm going to introduce it to my band today. I think it would sound cool in a break down for a song that we are working one. Key changes FTW.
Quote by demonofthenight

Good post man, but I must say I strongly disagree with this bit:

"Remember, your song is NOT the chord progression, it's the melody (and possibly a countermelody if one is included). Everything else is just hanging around to make said melody sound interesting. So don't get too caught up with progressions. They're not that important."

I don't know how you can say that. I believe melody and harmony are equally important, honestly, I don't know what possesses you to think otherwise. Changing the melody over a chord progression can drastically alter the sound of the whole, but surely doing the opposite can have an equally drastic effect? There's great music that consists of only chords - you could think of this kind of thing, simply as a "thickened" melody I suppose. It's wrong to think of melody and harmony as totally seperate entities. You can't have harmony by itself without some sort of melody going on.

I do get caught up in progressions because I find doing so to be at least as musically interesting as writing melodies. I really am curious to see how you can think otherwise, please explain.
Just jam, bro'

Edit: Then theorify afterwards... Works for me
Last edited by Mources at Jul 15, 2009,
Improv... just jam some chors.. find a nice sounding progression, build some licks with the chords and i'm ready to build the song! (for acoustic, it's pretty easy)

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It is a mixture between jamming and a certain knowledge of theory. I try to find a chord (the root) and then look at the possible chords following that root chord. Then just try to shuffle arround those chords untill I find something that sounds nice enough.
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Trial and error. Knowledge of theory helps and it cuts down the number or trials and errors. I remember flea once saying I play a note and then another note. If the 2nd note doesn't sound good, try again.

I wouldn't call it fiddling around but I try to write a cool lead and then get the rest of the ideas based off that lead riff. If it's good, the chords and melody will sort of write them selves. Or write the words first and see if any emotion you feel gives you a melody. Then the chords present them selves based off the meldoy.
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Usually I'll have some sort of melody ready, then start fiddling some chords with it. See if I can do some crazy modulatins while I'm at it, and so my progressions and melody grows towards eachother.

Which is often resulting in standard progressions that modulat einto each other. But hey it works for me.

Just jam, find a progression that sounds cool.......ask my girlfriend or anyone else that's around if they recognize it, to make sure I didn't subconciously steal it......Then look at the progression, find the key and try any other chords/substitutions from that key that I think might sound more interesting.

But if I really need to write something and can't think of anything, I pick a key and just try random progressions until I find something I like.

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