#1
I really want to make a song but I am having extreme trouble learning chord progressions and nothing else. Chord progressions are just standing in my way. So the questions about chord progressions I want to ask is how do I make an interesting chord progression? I have a hard time remembering what sub-dominant and pre-dominant mean. What if i'm working with an exotic scale like harmonic minor or Hungarian minor? Lastly, how many chords are generally in a progression?
#2
Learn some chord progressions dude. Those songs where you only know the riffs and solos, learn to play it all.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#3
I agree with Alan. Unfortunately there are no solid answers to any of your questions
My Soundcloud
Always up for some C4C, been compared to Frank Turner, The Cure's Robert Smith and Bruce Springsteen so check out my stuff if you like the sound of that
#4
Quote by Nottachance
So the questions about chord progressions I want to ask is how do I make an interesting chord progression?


The same way you make an interesting anything else. You have an idea, you hear it in your head, you play around with it until it sounds right.


I have a hard time remembering what sub-dominant and pre-dominant mean.


You are not advanced of enough for these to be worthwhile things for you to worry about.

What if i'm working with an exotic scale like harmonic minor or Hungarian minor?


You are not advanced enough to worry about exotic scales.

Lastly, how many chords are generally in a progression?


Listen to some songs you like and figure it out for yourself.
#5
Quote by Nottachance
Lastly, how many chords are generally in a progression?
That is predominantly dependent upon the performer. If it's Jimmy Buffet 2 or or 3. Pat Methany, only God knows.

Notice how cleverly I worked, "predominant" into the first sentence?
#6
Start simple. Learn about intervals and constructing the major scale. Then learn how to harmonise the major scale to create the basic chords (triads). Then use them. I.e. put the different chords together and hear how they sound. Just play around and discover the sounds yourself.

You can go a lot deeper into theory, but I reckon the above is a simple way to start.
#8
Not a lot of theory people on Musician Talk seem to mention this. Basic Harmonic Progression Theory.


Our musical language as westerners use "Tonal" theory as the language of music we speak.
Heres an analogy.
Chords, Roman Numerals, Do-re-me-fa-sol-la-ti-do, C-G, Cbmin7b5#13sus9 or whatever you want to call it, this is all like the alphabet of music. But, there are multiple languages that use the same alphabet, like Spanish and English for example.

Now. We speak "Western Tonal Music" I guess you can say, it's what our ears have developed to hear as "good" over time. The PILLARS of tonal music are TONIC and DOMINANT. Think of it as the subject and verb of a sentence in a language. A sentence is only valid when there is a subject and a verb in it.

Think of it like this. You can say "Carrot" over and over again, pretend this is the "tonic" of your sentence. Now, you can say carrot all day. All you're conveying to your reader/listener is CARROT! It's like playing a C major chord for a whole song. Sure, if thats what you want to say, go for it. It works in a really mundane sort of way.

But, you want to make your sentence complete. You need a DOMINANT. The DOMINANT of the key of C is G. Now, you're vocabulary has expanded to being able to say "Carrot" and a verb, lets say "goes".

Carrot goes... Carrot goes to where? Funny you may ask this, because the DOMINANT ALWAYS LEADS BACK TO TONIC. This is also where my language analogy falls apart. Lets just say the tonic always wants to go back to dominant in our ears to make sense.

You can also have preposition phrases that expand on the idea of the tonic, or other filler words or chords that relate to either the tonic or dominant. These are like adjectives and adverbs.

The green carrot (tonic) likes to (leads to the dominant) go to the (dominant) store (resolution).

The three parts of the sentence are like Tonic, Pre-dominant, Dominant, then resolution back to the tonic.

The tonic of a key is characterized by a feeling of "Home". the I chord most specifically.
The Dominant is characterized by a feeling of being far away from "home" and wanting to pull back to the tonic.

Play a C major chord (tonic) and a G7 chord (dominant). Hear how cheesy and powerful this simple progression is? Now lets expand on that.

Chords that are also part of "tonic" usually share common chord tones with the tonic triad. These can either be the iii chord, the vi chord, and sometimes the V chord is used correctly.

So, lets start out a chord progression by outlining the tonic. Our first few bars will be a quick /definition/ of the tonic, and a little expansion upon it. Lets make the first 2 bars of a 4 bar phrase an example of this.
Tonic, a V chord in relation to the tonic, another I chord, then an expansion on the iii chord.
| C G | C Em |

Now it's time to set up the dominant. The best way to do this is to deploy a "pre-dominant". These are chords that harmonize more towards the dominant in a key as opposed to the tonic. These chords are usually the IV chord, but can also be the ii chord or vi chord, use your ear. Lets add on a full bar of pre-dominant chords

The Am is a vi chord, which has notes of the pre-dominant and tonic triads, always works as a good transition. The F chord is your textbook "predominant" chord, which makes you want to lead to the V chord.
C G C Em Am F

Now, its time to add on the tension and resolution. The dominant to tonic resolution. Lets do a G chord the V chord, then make it a V7 chord, G7. Now our full 4 bar (with two chords per bar) progression is as follows

C G C Em Am F G G7

We ended with an EXTREMELY powerful dominant chord, and all you want to hear after playing that G7 is what? TONIC! a I chord.

This is a really basic introduction to tonal music function. Basically, tonal music is a journey from tonic, to dominant, back to tonic. The "rhythm" of the tonic and dominant over time is what helps us feel phrases.

In order to make a good progression, don't just "Pick random chords" until they sound good. Start with a VERY GENERAL idea. 2 bars of tonic, 2 bars of dominant? What about the pre-dominant?

The tonic can move to either the Dominant or Pre-dominant.
Pre-Dominant can either go back to tonic (plagal cadence) or to dominant.
Dominant usually always goes back to tonic (authentic cadence)

You can have 3 and a half bars of tonic expansion, then the last 2 beats of a 4 bar phrase can be Predominant and Dominant, and it'll sound good!

You don't always need predominant, but it usually is good if you're looking for a lot of "motion" in your progression.

If the Dominant doesn't go back to tonic, but instead goes to the vi chord (the relative minor of a key) this is called a DECEPTIVE cadence, it tricks your mind into thinking you're going to go back to a I chord, but instead gives you a different one. deceptive. tricks your ear. lol.

The strongest dominant is a V7 chord. But a V can work to. or even a vii(diminished) chord.

This is all very basic. And if you want, I can continue to explain Changing Keys, Secondary Dominants, Tritone subs, modal mixture, tonicization, chromaticism, anything. I'll try to keep it easy to understand.
Last edited by coffeeguy9 at Feb 16, 2012,
#9
And to add more

The chords in the key in relation to their tonal centers..

Tonic: I iii vi and V can be parts of tonic, but ultimately, I is the home, center, and most stable chord.
Pre-dominant: IV vi ii all work pretty well.
Dominant: V and vii

This also all goes to minor keys. just remember, the dominant chord is ALWAYS major.

T = tonic; PD = Pre Dominant; D = Dominant
I IV V I = T PD D T
I V vi IV = T T(doesn't go back to tonic) PD PD
I iii vi V = T T T D

The pachelbels progression is just a huge expansion on the Tonic tonality, then the last two chords are PD and D
I V vi iii IV I IV V

The most common movement of chords within a single function (say tonic) is by a 5th
If you have a chord progression going just by fifths you can get
I V ii, but the ii chord is a PD chord and wants to go to V which is dominant, then that wants to go back to tonic.
#10
coffeguy - the problem is the TS is going to have zero clue about what you're talking about. He is the perfect example of someone that wants answers (psuedo knowledge) but seems to shorthand his own mandatory understanding of the requirements to actually follow what you are talking about.

Best,

Sean
#11
Quote by Sean0913
coffeguy - the problem is the TS is going to have zero clue about what you're talking about. He is the perfect example of someone that wants answers (psuedo knowledge) but seems to shorthand his own mandatory understanding of the requirements to actually follow what you are talking about.

Best,

Sean


I looked at his wall of text and nearly posted the forbidden pear...
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#12
interesting coffeguy, good stuff. nottachance u might want to stick with a I IV V for a while anyway u r just playing the harmonic minor scale without knowing a good progression of any sort? do u know what u r doing?
#13
Hey guys, I haven't been able to respond to some of the answers but, coffee guy, THANK YOU that helps so much! For everybody else, I am sorry I forgot to mention that I play chord progressions A LOT from A LOT of different songs it is just that I always had a hard time understanding how they worked and how I could build one.

Anyway, coffeeguy, thank you so so so much. You should seriously make a lesson on that because I cant really find a good one. You inspire me. THANK YOU!

P.S. Still wondering about exotic scaled chord progressions. I'm going to work with major and minor right now before I skip to the exotic scale chord progressions. But I'm just curious.