Hi all.

I am looking for a bit of song writing guidance. Specifically how to decide on a chord progression. Once I know the feeling or emotion I want to capture how do I choose the right chords?

I know minor is sad and all that but what I don't quite understand is how to choose the chord order also how to build and resolve tension in a basic chord progression.

I am self-taught and have been playing for a few years. I am pretty good at metal but I am playing a lot more acoustic these days and want to learn how to write songs that are generally "good" by using chord progressions.

Is there like a place where I can go that lists all the types of chords and the emotions they evoke?
You just need to learn the sound. "Sad" is not the feeling you get from a chord. That's really not how it goes. All chords and chord progressions have their own "feelings" that you really can't describe without sounds. Yeah, of course there are some "sadder" sounding chord progressions (though I would argue that the sadness comes more from the instrumentation, tempo, rhythm and that kind of things - the same chord progression can have many different feelings if it's used differently) - or chord progressions that work well in sad songs. You just need to use your ears. Learn the chord functions.

If you want to write a "sad" song, pay a lot of attention to other details than just chords. Some sad songs are in major key. For example Radiohead - Creep is a pretty sad song and it is in G major.

I would start analyzing songs. If you find that some song makes you feel a certain way, analyze it. Figure out the chords. Figure out other stuff than just chords. Music isn't just notes and chords.
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Thanks for the tips I understand much better now, A friend of mine described it to me but not like that at all. I guess I need to start by learning more chords and analysing more songs. I have been doing that and everything is starting to click.

Quote by macashmack
There is no list saying what emotions chords evoke as that doesn't make sense. It's like Maggara sad, it depends on a lot of stuff.

As for building and resolving tension, you're basically talking about functional harmony.

Thank for the link on functional harmony. Very helpful

Quote by Sean0913
What do you understand about chords in terms of keys, non-diatonic chords, secondary dominants, cadences and voice leading?

Clearly not enough yet
Last edited by Victorgeiger at Jun 20, 2014,
Definitely start looking at songs from a mechanical point of view.

This may be as easy as getting the tab from here at UG, writing out the lyrics and chords to see how it works. This will develop your art.

The more you learn the more you'll earn.
Here's what I would do. Open up iTunes or whatever you use and play some songs with a variety of different moods to them, focusing mostly on progressions. In a fresh journal, on each page, write the name of the song and the mood you perceived.

Now go off and look up the songs on this site and determine their chord progressions. Write down each progression on the appropriate page. Move through your journal and convert each to a functional notation (I-iv, etc). Also jot down any other observations you have for each song.

When you're done, you'll have a book of chord progressions that fit a mood that you can pick up and modify as you see fit. I did this in a digital format and I found it incredibly useful.

It's worth noting, however, that many variables affect the way a song sounds besides the chord progression. It's certainly a place to start, but after you've written a melody to go overtop you may find it has a different feel than you started with. Go with the flow .
i don't know why i feel so dry