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Thread: Chord Progressions

  1. #1
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    Chord Progressions

    Chord Progressions is something I'm actively trying to learn now. I don't understand how artists make them just from scratch,
    maybe they copy others progressions and make changes just to get a base feel, but I have no idea. Anyways, I was wondering
    what kind of chord progression is in this song? Is it a 1-5-7-6? What are the names of the chords in the intro of this song?

    https://soundcloud.com/banksbanksban...ater-snakehips
    Last edited by xerox02; 03-20-2014 at 09:46 PM.

  2. #2
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by xerox02 View Post
    Chord Progressions is something I'm actively trying to learn now. I don't understand how artists make them just from scratch,
    maybe they copy others progressions and make changes just to get a base feel, but I have no idea. Anyways, I was wondering
    what kind of chord progression is in this song? Is it a 1-5-7-6? What are the names of the chords in the intro of this song?

    https://soundcloud.com/banksbanksban...ater-snakehips
    When I compose I start with the lyrics, the story, and get that into verse format. Normally three verses and one chorus. I place the chords to move the story along, more on that later, I then work on the melody last. I draw my melody notes from the chord's pentatonic, more on that later. I start with a cookie cutter chord progression for the movement of the story and then flesh it out in the second and third draft.

    I did not listen to the song, my ear is not that good. But, normally an intro will play the chords to the first few lines of the song, normally the first two lines or to the first V7 chord so the V7 pulls you into the first verse - if the first verse starts on the tonic I chord. It kinda depends on the song... My outro is normally a tag (repeat) of the last line of the chorus or verse; which ever one ended the song.

    As no one has answered. And if you are still around. Here is a little on how artists make them from scratch.

    Why do we need a chord? Chords harmonize the melody and move the song along the rest (I) to tension (IV) to climax (V7) and then back to rest (I) journey the song takes.

    It's a balancing act between movement and harmonization. And the harmonization part normally gets overlooked by people that ask about chords. You harmonize the melody by having the melody line and the chord line share some like notes. How many like notes is a good question. One per measure gets harmonization. Two like notes per measure is normally better, three is just gravy as one got you harmonization. If you like the gravy spoon on like notes. That is why power chords like a C5 work, i.e. as long as the C note or the G note are in the melody line that old C5 did it's job and it will continue harmonizing the melody as long as the melody has a C or G note active, i.e. it's not necessary to change chords until the melody moves on to something other than C's or G's.

    The I, IV & V chord contain every note in the tonic scale. So just those three chords will sooner or later harmonize any song that stays in key. A key will have three major chords, three minor chords and one diminished chord. In a major key the I, IV & V are your structure chords the ii, iii & vi are your flavor and color chords and the diminished chord is normally used as a move to chord.

    Sometime getting the harmonizing note under the melody means that you insert another chord into your movement progression and that may mess up your movement (I-IV-V7-I). In most cases this is not necessary as you can insert the harmonizing note into the movement chord as an extension - Cmaj7 or Cm7(add9) or add a Sus 2 or 4 which is just a lead to chord - yep, that is one of the reasons those fancy chords are in the song, the songwriter used an extension to harmonize the melody notes over that chord.

    Picking out the chords by ear is something I do very badly and for years have let Google find me a chord chart on the song. The chord chart (fake chord sheet music) is usually pretty close, not exact, and gives me what I need. If I need to change something I do.

    Google these words:
    Guitar chords, "name of the song"
    Lead sheet, "name of the song"
    Chords, "name of the song"

    A Google on how to harmonize a melody will be time well spent.

    Here is a little something on movement.

    The I tonic chord can go anywhere in the progression it wants to, however, when used it resolves any tension you have built and the progression's movement normally ends. Or you have to start the movement over again, i.e. I-IV-I moved back to rest. I-IV-I-V7-I tension ends in the middle - is that what you want? Up to you.

    The ii chord is a sub-dominant chord and likes to move to a dominant chord. You have two sub-dominant chords in a key; the ii and IV. As both have the same task they can sub for each other. Your choice.

    The iii chord is a move somewhere chord. When used it normally drags the vi with it.

    The IV is the second sub-dominant chord and it likes to move to a dominant chord.

    The V is the dominant chord. It likes to move to the I tonic chord. Adding the b7 note making it into a dominant seven chord increases the tension and a V7 chord wants to resolve right now. Anything else would be anti-climatic. The vii is also a dominant chord.

    The vi chord wants to move to a sub-dominant chord.

    The vii chord is the other dominant chord and it too wants to resolve to the tonic I chord, however, it being the leading tone minor chord as well as the diminished chord it is in no hurry to resolve and is often used as a move somewhere chord, i.e. like in a turn-a-round vii-iii-vi-ii-V7-I. Short recap; if you want to resolve quickly use the V7, if you want to move somewhere else, perhaps using a turn-a-round then the vii will lead into that nicely.

    The above talks to the movement the chords like to use, that does not mean they have to move this way as any chord within the same key will sound OK with any other chord from the same key. You move them to accomplish movement, harmony and color. Even my old ears will let me know which chords sound good with each other.

    Have fun.
    Last edited by Malcolm; 04-19-2014 at 02:05 PM.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malcolm View Post
    When I compose I start with the lyrics, the story, and get that into verse format. Normally three verses and one chorus. I place the chords to move the story along, more on that later, I then work on the melody last. I draw my melody notes from the chord's pentatonic, more on that later. I start with a cookie cutter chord progression for the movement of the story and then flesh it out in the second and third draft.

    I did not listen to the song, my ear is not that good. But, normally an intro will play the chords to the first few lines of the song, normally the first two lines or to the first V7 chord so the V7 pulls you into the first verse - if the first verse starts on the tonic I chord. It kinda depends on the song... My outro is normally a tag (repeat) of the last line of the chorus or verse; which ever one ended the song.

    As no one has answered. And if you are still around. Here is a little on how artists make them from scratch.

    Why do we need a chord? Chords harmonize the melody and move the song along the rest (I) to tension (IV) to climax (V7) and then back to rest (I) journey the song takes.

    It's a balancing act between movement and harmonization. And the harmonization part normally gets overlooked by people that ask about chords. You harmonize the melody by having the melody line and the chord line share some like notes. How many like notes is a good question. One per measure gets harmonization. Two like notes per measure is normally better, three is just gravy as one got you harmonization. If you like the gravy spoon on like notes. That is why power chords like a C5 work, i.e. as long as the C note or the G note are in the melody line that old C5 did it's job and it will continue harmonizing the melody as long as the melody has a C or G note active, i.e. it's not necessary to change chords until the melody moves on to something other than C's or G's.

    The I, IV & V chord contain every note in the tonic scale. So just those three chords will sooner or later harmonize any song that stays in key. A key will have three major chords, three minor chords and one diminished chord. In a major key the I, IV & V are your structure chords the ii, iii & vi are your flavor and color chords and the diminished chord is normally used as a move to chord.

    Sometime getting the harmonizing note under the melody means that you insert another chord into your movement progression and that may mess up your movement (I-IV-V7-I). In most cases this is not necessary as you can insert the harmonizing note into the movement chord as an extension - Cmaj7 or Cm7(add9) or add a Sus 2 or 4 which is just a lead to chord - yep, that is one of the reasons those fancy chords are in the song, the songwriter used an extension to harmonize the melody notes over that chord.

    Picking out the chords by ear is something I do very badly and for years have let Google find me a chord chart on the song. The chord chart (fake chord sheet music) is usually pretty close, not exact, and gives me what I need. If I need to change something I do.

    Google these words:
    Guitar chords, "name of the song"
    Lead sheet, "name of the song"
    Chords, "name of the song"

    A Google on how to harmonize a melody will be time well spent.

    Here is a little something on movement.
    The I tonic chord can go anywhere in the progression it wants to, however, when used it resolves any tension you have built and the progression's movement normally ends. Or you have to start the movement over again, i.e. I-IV-I moved back to rest. I-IV-I-V7-I tension ends in the middle - is that what you want? Up to you.

    The ii chord is a sub-dominant chord and likes to move to a dominant chord. You have two sub-dominant chords in a key; the ii and IV. As both have the same task they can sub for each other. Your choice.

    The iii chord is a move somewhere chord. When used it normally drags the vi with it.

    The IV is the second sub-dominant chord and it likes to move to a dominant chord.

    The V is the dominant chord. It likes to move to the I tonic chord. Adding the b7 note making it into a dominant seven chord increases the tension and a V7 chord wants to resolve right now. Anything else would be anti-climatic. The vii is also a dominant chord.

    The vi chord wants to move to a sub-dominant chord.

    The vii chord is the other dominant chord and it too wants to resolve to the tonic I chord, however, it being the leading tone minor chord as well as the diminished chord it is in no hurry to resolve and is often used as a move somewhere chord, i.e. like in a turn-a-round vii-iii-vi-ii-V7-I. Short recap; if you want to resolve quickly use the V7, if you want to move somewhere else, perhaps using a turn-a-round then the vii will lead into that nicely.

    The above talks to the movement the chords like to use, that does not mean they have to move this way as any chord within the same key will sound OK with any other chord from the same key. You move them to accomplish movement, harmony and color. Even my old ears will let me know which chords sound good with each other.

    Have fun.
    Your reply easily changed my life, I learned so much. Took some personal notes too.
    If you have time to answer this would be awesome to know. Is there a book I can grab to kind of get a baseline/foundational understanding of how
    music works? The explanation you gave me gave me such a complete picture and clear way to think about things that I'd hope to find that understanding
    in other parts of music. I know it's not as simple as this but I feel like I have so many bits and pieces in my head about music, but nothing to piece anything together.
    Other explanations I find don't ever seem to tie into the bigger picture and aren't clear to what their utility is.

  4. #4
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by xerox02 View Post
    Chord Progressions is something I'm actively trying to learn now. I don't understand how artists make them just from scratch, maybe they copy others progressions and make changes just to get a base feel, but I have no idea.
    More or less, yes.
    It's like picking up a language. You hear things you like, that make sense (make the sounds you want to make), so you copy them. You pick up lots of pieces, and end up putting them together in different orders. (You can study the "grammar" - music theory - if you like, but most songwriters just pick stuff up by ear, and by reading songbooks.)

    But also, a lot of songwriters start from a melody. IOW, a line they sing (with or without words). Chords are then added later, to harmonise the melody. This is a more traditional way of working. But how the chords are put together will still usually be in common sequences, common kinds of changes.

    Traditionally, chord sequences couldn't be copyrighted, because there's so few good combinations; the same ones get used 1000s of times, because they work. It's melodies and lyrics that can be original, and therefore copyright.
    So don't be afraid to steal good chord sequences! Everybody does!
    Just don't steal words and tunes.
    Quote Originally Posted by xerox02 View Post
    Anyways, I was wondering what kind of chord progression is in this song? Is it a 1-5-7-6? What are the names of the chords in the intro of this song?

    https://soundcloud.com/banksbanksban...ater-snakehips
    Those are some quite fancy jazz chords there. I get the following. "O" is a chord hit, and I've shown the beats, because most of the chords are "syncopated" (played before or between the beats). You hear the rhythm more clearly after around 1:15, when the bass and drums come back in.
    Code:
    |E9sus              Cmaj7|              Gadd9 Am9 |
     O              O     O  |               O     O  |
    |1  .  2  .  3  .  4  .  |1  .  2  .  3  .  4  .  |
       looking you o-ver               you don't know my
    
    |              Am    Am9 |                B7#5b9  |
    |               O     O  |                  O     |
    |1  .  2  .  3  .  4  .  |1  .  2  .  3  .  4  .  |
    name yet
    
    |E9sus              Cmaj7|              Gadd9 Am9 |
     O              O     O  |               O     O  |
    |1  .  2  .  3  .  4  .  |1  .  2  .  3  .  4  .  |
         by the time ...... away     .....couldn't take
    
    |        Bm7        Cmaj7|                B7#5b9  |
    |         O           O  |                  O     |
    |1  .  2  .  3  .  4  .  |1  .  2  .  3  .  4  .  |
       it
    How did I get those? By recording it into Transcribe software and looping chords to play along till I found them.
    They're tricky chords on guitar, but not too difficult on piano. But to compose something like that, you'd need to have heard, seen, or played such chords before, in R&B or jazz tunes.

    B7#5b9, in particular, is a serious jazz chord, a bit like F9 with a B bass, or a Cm triad on top of a B7.
    On guitar you can play it like this:
    -8-
    -8-
    -8-
    -7-
    -x-
    -7-


    The key is E minor, although the tonic chord - E9sus - doesn't have the 3rd (G) in it. It's basically Bm7 with an E bass.
    And Am9 is Cmaj7 with an A bass.

    I suppose you'd analyse the sequence (if you wanted to) as:
    |i - |VI - |iv - |iv V |
    |i - |VI - |iv - |VI V |
    (ignoring the passing G and Bm chords).
    Last edited by JonR; 04-21-2014 at 06:30 PM.

  5. #5
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by xerox02 View Post
    Your reply easily changed my life, I learned so much. Took some personal notes too.
    If you have time to answer this would be awesome to know. Is there a book I can grab to kind of get a baseline/foundational understanding of how
    music works?
    The explanation you gave me gave me such a complete picture and clear way to think about things that I'd hope to find that understanding
    in other parts of music. I know it's not as simple as this but I feel like I have so many bits and pieces in my head about music, but nothing to piece anything together.
    Other explanations I find don't ever seem to tie into the bigger picture and aren't clear to what their utility is.
    What is music? Lyrics (perhaps), melody, harmony and rhythm. The lyrics tell the story in verse format. The melody notes and the harmony notes are where we spend the most time and they get along with each other if they harmonize; and they do that by sharing like notes. Rhythm probably does the most to set one style from another style. The same ole I-IV-V chords have been used in a zillion songs from many different styles. The rhythm sets them apart.

    If you have a good library in your town ask the librarian for something on "How to harmonize a melody". I did that and was given three pure theory books, sorry do not remember the names. Music in our part of the World likes harmonization. You get harmonization when the melody line and the chord line share some like notes. It's the sharing of like notes that produce harmonization. In the Western World we like music that harmonizes.

    That's it in a nut shell.

    If there is not a good library in your town, Google normally works.

    Good luck, it is a journey.
    Last edited by Malcolm; 04-22-2014 at 10:16 PM.

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