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sixstrings121
04-06-2005, 04:56 AM
Hey guys, really big problem. First of all, When writing songs, I can never write a progression that has more than 2 chords. Alllll my songs only use 2 chords in a progression. I dont know why, they just come out that way. I cant seem to fit any more chords in that sound good (besides I IV V and such but i dont wanna use that). I think it is much easier to write progression on pianos for some reason. Perhaps because you can see how the chords lead to one another, but still Im not very good at it. How do you guys go about writing progressions?

Another thing, When I write songs, I can never fit 2 parts together. Nothing seems to go with the first part at all. I just feel like I suck and Im helpless at writing songs. Help please.

Thanks again

Zatz
04-06-2005, 05:56 AM
Try to concentrate on melody, put those progressions aside for a while. Make an arrangement without backing and then come up with chords behind it. If chord progression is what your songwriting is usually based upon, do venture to start from something else. If it's harmonizing issue - theory might come handy here.

As to joining 2 parts together you'll need appropriate chord sequence in the end of the bridge to lead back to the main part. I suggest that you give an example and we'll think of the way out together ;)

Anyways, don't worry - it's just the matter of experience.

sixstrings121
04-06-2005, 06:37 AM
yeah see I have lots of songs writen, but they almost all consist of 2 chords (or altered chords of the same chord). Ive tried the melody approach, but the melody works with 2 chords as well lol. Im probly ganna post an example later on powertab. Thanks for the help

UKRuss
04-06-2005, 08:13 AM
Maybe try using some of the minor chords to get you to the next chord and the like. Think progression.

Nothin wrong with a I IV V

Then using say the ii and iii to get you to the IV

Mateo150
04-06-2005, 05:06 PM
Nothing wrong with 2 chord songs.... heres one I like, based around a very simple common riff... use chromatics... errrr. ....whole steps to make it a bit more interesting.... and of course, you need rhythm.... try adding a little flavor to the 2 chord stuff you have, such as whole step leads and not playing the entire chord, or whatever, or write the thing on piano then make a guitar part for it.

=Bob=
04-06-2005, 07:18 PM
yeah see I have lots of songs writen, but they almost all consist of 2 chords (or altered chords of the same chord). Ive tried the melody approach, but the melody works with 2 chords as well lol. Im probly ganna post an example later on powertab. Thanks for the help
As an experiment, you could get the chords for a song you didn't write (especially one you don't really know) and compose a new melody for it. What style do you want to write?
=Bob=

UKRuss
04-06-2005, 07:24 PM
That's a gret idea Bob! Wish i'd thought of that a long time ago.

Reminds me of when i learnt david bowie wrote his lyrics by tearing out sentences from magazines and then simply mixing them up.

Worked well in the 80s....not so valid now.

"He had a camouflage face and no money"..yes...right.

sixstrings121
04-06-2005, 08:24 PM
Whats it called when certain chords fit with others? Like how do you know what chords lead to what?

=Bob=
04-06-2005, 08:45 PM
Whats it called when certain chords fit with others?Most common chord progressions are based on good voice leading. The individual leading of each note (a voice) within a chord to the next chord is only something you would really consider when writing choral work or counterpoint. But that's how it all started, individual voices such as in counterpoint. Once vertical harmony was open to composers, they just started using those vertical alignments in the same ways as they appeared in counterpoint. They developed new ideas, guidelines and just kept on going.


Like how do you know what chords lead to what?There are good reasons for some chords to follow certain chords, but for the most part in modern music, we choose whatever we think sounds cool. Some good reasons for choosing particular chords to follow are because they might indicate some kind of secondary dominance, like the ii->V progression, or tritone substitution, or chromatic mediants, the Aug6 chords and specialties like the Neapolitan. Chord progressions are not really protected by copyright, so they're fair game for copying without concern for infringement, especially the common progressions.
=Bob=

sixstrings121
04-08-2005, 07:26 PM
What is a secondary dominant?? And a tritone substitution is when you take the b5 of a Dom7 chord and make a Dom7 off the b5, correct (if you had E7, you could sub Bb7)? And what is chromatic mediants and Neapolitan?? lol thanks for the help.

To Mateo, I like the progression in that 2 chord song where its like a G5 Bb C D. why does that work?? What key are you in there?

=Bob=
04-08-2005, 08:02 PM
What is a secondary dominant?? And a tritone substitution is when you take the b5 of a Dom7 chord and make a Dom7 off the b5, correct (if you had E7, you could sub Bb7)? And what is chromatic mediants and Neapolitan?? lol thanks for the help.

To Mateo, I like the progression in that 2 chord song where its like a G5 Bb C D. why does that work?? What key are you in there?A secondary dominant is when you use the dominant that would exist in another key. For example:

Chords in C: C, D7, G
The D7 is a secondary dominant, it includes the altered tone of F#, it is the V of V or V/V.

Tritone substitution is when you have a chord that contains the tritone (aug4/dim5) such as the dominant 7 (V7) and substitute some other chord that contains the same tritone, even if enharmonically. So when using a G7 (G,B,D,F - the tritone is between B and F) can be substituted by a Db7 (Db,F,Ab,Cb - the tritone is between Cb and F).

Chromatic mediants are chords that are a major or minor third away from some starting chord. Usually of the same type (if your starting chord is major, the chromatic mediants should be major). Relative to a starting chord of C major, those would be E major, Eb major, A major and Ab major.

The Neapolitan is a major chord built on lowered scale degree 2, so in C major that would be a Db major triad. It is usually found in 1st inversion and reesolves to a V or V7 chord.
=Bob=

Mateo150
04-08-2005, 08:58 PM
To Mateo, I like the progression in that 2 chord song where its like a G5 Bb C D. why does that work?? What key are you in there?Its in the key of G...

I consider the piece to be G to D...some would say its G -C- D---aka I-IV-V

That little lick/phrase used to mover from Bb to C to D is actually from Hendrix's Castle's Made of Sand... with different rhythm.

The section is from a song called Twist by the band Phish. I transcribed that from a live show, Austin City Limits played,,, dunno... maybe mid 90's....

I analyze it as G moving to D, with with diatonic leading chords...aka. the Bb and C... I'm sure thats an incorrect analysis. But thats how I think of it. I also tend to think of it as a melody and not a chord progression.... but thats me.

Why it works... rhythm and voice leading. Chris J has an article on voice leading that may help. I tend to scat a lot when trying to come up with ideas or trying to follow stuff like that... dooo DAT,,, bo,,, blu,,, BO... de dE... da do da du da......Stupid man's voice leading I guess...


Check this song out too... even more an example of 2 chords that sound good..... also because of rhythm/phrasing and voice leading (IMO)... may want to check out some Zappa for 2 chord stuff thats not as busy as this one.