I'm sure the topic has been discussed many times but what do you guys think? It seems to me that I have 2 or 3 go to progressions that I write the majority of my songs with. Sometimes I feel like I'm being lazy but other times I feel like I'm gravitating to where my voice feels comfortable singing. The songs I write sound very different as far as the melody and vocals go but I can still hear the same chord progression because I wrote it ofc.

Do you think this type of thing is as obvious to the average listener as it is to us songwriters?
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Yes, it's normal. For me there are certain keys where my vocals can hit the high notes and the low notes. Also i have chord sequences that are very similiar or same that always sound good to my ear and i naturally gravitate towards those chord sequences. As long as it isn't too obvious, i don't think it will bother. For Petes listen to any metal band and tell me they don't sound similar with their low string chugging.
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AC/DC are a good example of sticking to a solid formula. You can do a lot with just a few chords. It's all about the rhythm.
Do you think this type of thing is as obvious to the average listener as it is to us songwriters?

No, it really isn't. We vastly over-estimate exactly how much understanding of what we've written the average person will get. They don't know a chord progression from a Pop Tart. If it sounds good, they like it.
There's a lot you can do with a small handful of chords. It is possible to write a song structure with a different progression for the intro, verses, pre-chorus, chorus and bridge using no more than 4 or 5 different chords.
I'm glad you started this thread because I've often asked myself the same question, wondering if everything I write sounds the same.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and tricks everyone!

This thread is an interesting perspective.

I've written about 80 songs (well, partially written, the vast majority are unfinished) and NONE of my song progressions are the same.

That's because I start my song-writing by improvising chord progressions till I find something that moves me and that does not sound like a rip off of something else I've heard or written before. For example, I would not start a song with an I-V-vi-IV since it's so overplayed (though in fact I finally broke down and wrote just one song with that progression because I was curious if I could write a song using it and still sound original).

I do gravitate to certain keys more than others, and certain types of chords, so there is some overlap. And I'm quite sure most of my progressions overlap with progressions that have been used before, since there are only so many ways to travel through a key creating tension and resolution in a way that sounds pleasing to the ear.

I actually wonder if my songs will ever be commercially successful since it does seem that, for the average listener, the simpler and more familiar chord progressions are the most successful. I've been writing more 3-chord songs lately, for a change, but still have not had to use the same progression twice.

I read Green Day always uses I-V-vi-IV for their chorus progression, so I guess it can be done and, as I said, it may make your song even more commercially viable to do it that way. When I wrote my one song in I-V-vi-IV, I was able to make it sound original, and that experience taught me that any progression has limitless possibilities.

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Last edited by krm27 at Aug 21, 2015,