#1
Ive been trying to come up with some basic chord progressions but I dont really understand how to know which chords mesh together. I believe this is partly because I am not applying the theory I know. I know that the chords coming from a major scales and its modes are major, minor, minor, major, major, minor, diminished. Then however you have so many choices of how to blend the chord order and it seems overwhelming. Also you have so many different types of chords that it seems as though it only adds a level of complexity to it. Finally you can play the same chord a whole bunch of different ways.

If anyone can give me a clue on how to tackle this problem that would be great.

Thanks

Flow of soul
Last edited by Flow of soul at Jul 31, 2008,
#2
get powertab, get some powertabs of you favorite bands, observe the chords and progressions, also, go to all-guitar-chords.com and learn more chords

Originally Posted by Redhotchipepper
what i thought peta was people eating tasty animals
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#4
Quote by mccabe24
The easiest way to make chord progressions is to use theory. Here's something called the chord ladder that has helped me:

iii-vi-IV-V-I

There are various subsitutions you can make, but experement with this and you shoud get a few ideas.

If you don't understand this, let me know.

use this guys answer... lol

Originally Posted by Redhotchipepper
what i thought peta was people eating tasty animals
Join the Jackson Owner's Club
#5
i don't know any theory so when i do, i just experiment, or look at lead riffs that i made up and look at the notes and go from there.
#7
I just start playing chords and when something sounds good... well it sounds good lol. There isn't much theory you just have to experiment.
#8
Quote by Ssargentslayer
I just start playing chords and when something sounds good... well it sounds good lol. There isn't much theory you just have to experiment.

If you know your theory you will already know what chords are going to sound great together before you even play them.
#10
Quote by mccabe24
The easiest way to make chord progressions is to use theory. Here's something called the chord ladder that has helped me:

iii-vi-IV-V-I

There are various subsitutions you can make, but experement with this and you shoud get a few ideas.

If you don't understand this, let me know.


If you could go a little more in depth about this or point me in the right direction of where to find more information about the chord ladder that would be much appreciated.

Quote by mattj2192
A good progression is I-VI-V


Yes but its only good for rock/blues
Last edited by Flow of soul at Jul 31, 2008,
#11
Quote by Flow of soul
If you could go a little more in depth about this or point me in the right direction of where to find more information about the chord ladder that would be much appreciated.


Yes but its only good for rock/blues


lol i think he was being sarcastic

I - iii - IV is another 'great' progression

theres a wikipedia article that's got tonnes of chord progressions
lilboyineblue22 wrote:

IVE GOT ONE AND THE SUBTLENESS OF IT IS WHAT I LIKE

Curb stomp.
#12
Quote by DamoPlaysBass
lol i think he was being sarcastic

I - iii - IV is another 'great' progression

theres a wikipedia article that's got tonnes of chord progressions


link?
#15
Well, I origionally discovered the Chord Ladder a while ago from a book called The Complete Music Theory Book by Matt Sharfglass (I think).

Basically, it shows you what chords will "gravitate" to the next chord in the progression. You can use this to create nice, natural sounding progressions.

For example, play a C Major Scale. Now, play C's 5th (G Major chord) notice how the G seems to pull toward a C? This is how the chord ladder works.

The example I gave above is the chord ladder starting on the third. In C Major, the chords would be:

Em-Am-F-G-C.

Notice how the Em pulls to Am, Am to F and so on.

Try using this chord ladder in other keys and write some riffs based on the chord ladder. You don't even have to use the whole thing. For example, you could easily play a progression of:

Am-F-G.

Try also adding things like suspended chords or add9 chords to give your progressions more flavor. Once you understand the chord ladder, you will have a seemingly endless stream of new riff ideas flowing through your brain.

If anything I said is unclear, or you still don't understand the concept of the chord ladder, please let me know.

Once again, hope this helps!
#16
TS - I felt the same way at one point and I'm sorry this is so long but it should be applicable pretty much straight away if you can bear with me til the end.

Chord charts can be useful but my personal opinion is that they are more of a cheat sheet and that using them doesn't really give any understanding of why or how chords work together in a progression. I feel if you understand the underlying principles of the how and why chord progressions work chord charts become redundant. Understanding the how and why is also essential for purposefully writing more complex chordal arrangements introducing extended or altered chords. However some people find chord charts quite useful so here is one.

You may be curious though and asking how and why do chords work together? Well a successful chord progression will provide a sense of tension and release. There are three key things that I think contribute to the achieving this outcome.
  • Creating a clear sense of the tonic.
  • How each individual note within a chord moves to get to the next chord and
  • The balance of dissonance and consonance within a progression.


Creating a clear sense of tonic is another whole chapter and a clear understanding of the second point will put you on the right path in this respect anyway. Using dissonant chords is a little more advanced and requires a solid understanding of the first two principles. So I will mostly deal with how to understand chord progressions through analysing the movement of notes from chord to chord.

When looking at the movement of individual notes between chords it would be good to begin with identifying the notes of each chord and relating them to each other by the smallest possible movement between the notes of each chord. For example moving from V-I could be described as each note moving down a perfect fifth.

However, a more helpful view of the V-I progression would be to look for the smallest possible movement between notes. Like so E (E B G#) -> A (A C# E)
  • The root note in the V chord becomes the fifth in the I chord. (E -> E)
  • The third in the V chord moves up a half step to become the new root of the I chord. (G# -> A)
  • The fifth of the V chord moves up one whole step to become the third of the I chord. (B -> C#)


Recognising what individual note movements create resolve or tension is key here. This is gained through experience and observation. In example above the A chord's perfect fifth (E) provides stability and reinforces the A root because of the E overtones present in the A. Having that E already present in the preceding chord makes for a nice transition and really reinforces the tonic (A). The G# is called the leading tone in the A scale. When playing through the A scale the G# tends to create a desire in the listener to hear the A next. The G# provides tension that is resolved in the movement to the root.

Different chord progressions will have create different degrees of tension or resolve.

For Example a iii-I progression provides a sense of resolve as the fifth in the iii moves up a semitone to the root note of the I chord. If we look at the other two notes though, we notice there is no movement at all. This provides consistency and stability making the change smoother and consequently the resolve is weaker than the V-I progression we saw earlier which has only one common note between the two chords.

Not all movements create resolve either. This is obvious as a sense of resolution needs a sense of tension in order to exist. Here is a recommended link that explains Basic Harmonic Function

Another thing to know is chord families and the concept of "reharmonization". They are pretty easy to learn and use.

The diatonic triads can be used to create chord families. The triads within a family share two notes. If we take our major scale 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 then the chords built on each note would contain the following notes from the scale:
I = 1 3 5; ii = 2 4 6; iii = 3 5 7; IV = 4 6 1; V = 5 7 2; vi = 6 1 3; vii º = 7 2 4

If we start with the Tonic since it is the fundamental home chord. We work through and find the chords that share two notes with the I chord. These are iii and vi.
This gives us the Tonic Family = I iii vi (note a movement between vi and iii requires changing two notes so just be aware.)

Of the chords left the IV and ii share two common notes and together make up the Sub Dominant Family.
And the V and vii chords share two common notes and make up the Dominant Family.

Reharmonization is the process of taking an existing chord progression and making it sound different by reharmonizing chords with another in the same family.

I'm using colour to identify family members and show how although the chords progressions are all different they family patterns are the same.

We could start with a simple I-V progression for example and use a second member of the Tonic family to reharmonize it as follows:
|I / / / | V / / / | --> | I / iv / | V / / /| We can play around with the timing but the principle remains the same.

A I-IV-V-I might become I-ii-V-I or even I-iii-ii-IV-V-vi
(Just be wary of chord inversions. They are great but using the wrong inversion at the wrong place when reharmonizing can make it sound like the parent chord with one wrong note)

After you have played around with this stuff for a while and feel comfortable with it try learning about some chord substitution and how to use extended chords to create a balance of dissonance and consonance in your progressions. Then modulation would be a good place to continue progressing your songwriting abilities.

Always keep notes of any observations you make when playing with chord progressions. Figure out what works what doesn't work and either way always try to understand why it does or does not work.

Hope this helps some,
Good Luck
Si
#17
Quote by Retro Rocker
If you know your theory you will already know what chords are going to sound great together before you even play them.

So by learning music theory, which I know some of, it should tell me every chord progression that will sound good? I'm not not saying it can't but I think it would be a tad bit easier just to experiment then to memorize a ton of stuff that would tell me every chord progression in the book...
#18
Quote by Ssargentslayer
So by learning music theory, which I know some of, it should tell me every chord progression that will sound good? I'm not not saying it can't but I think it would be a tad bit easier just to experiment then to memorize a ton of stuff that would tell me every chord progression in the book...

Knowing theory is better than stabbing in the dark.

It is quicker and takes less effort if you understand why chord progressions work the way they do. It's not about memorizing every chord progression in the book -it's quite the opposite. It's about understanding so you don't have to memorize. The more you learn and understand about what makes an effective chord progressions the easier and quicker it becomes to construct effective chord progressions.

And while experimentation is essential in the learning process if you find something that works but don't know why it works then you have to memorize it.
Consequently, you have to memorize more if you don't learn the theory.
Si
#21
Quote by 20Tigers
Knowing theory is better than stabbing in the dark.

It is quicker and takes less effort if you understand why chord progressions work the way they do. It's not about memorizing every chord progression in the book -it's quite the opposite. It's about understanding so you don't have to memorize. The more you learn and understand about what makes an effective chord progressions the easier and quicker it becomes to construct effective chord progressions.

And while experimentation is essential in the learning process if you find something that works but don't know why it works then you have to memorize it.
Consequently, you have to memorize more if you don't learn the theory.


Good point. now is there anywhere where I could learn these techniques?

EDIT: i didn't see you previous post.