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Resource for Chord Progressions

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  • Resource for Chord Progressions

    OK, I'm a drummer that likes to arrange, and occasionally write my own originals. And before I go any further, no stupid drummer jokes, cuz looking at the crappy work I've seen on MIDI files from keyboard, and guitarists that SHOULD know better, they have NO ROOM to talk. Enough with that discussion. My dilemma isn't so much finding different sophisticated chords; more it's knowing how to string 3-4 chords together, and even better, being able to create an innovative bridge. So, is there any free online resource that would help/teach me how to do so?

  • #2
    The easy answer to your question is "study songs". All the great rock songwriters learned their craft by covering other people's songs, as many as possible. The more you do that, the more you learn (a) the standard formulas (the changes that sound normal, natural, predictable), and (b) a few cool deviations from those formulas (the changes that sound surprising).

    The stock reference source is the Beatles, because their work is basically a repository of all the popular music that came before them (they'd listened to it all, pretty much), plus a few innovations; and all following pop/rock songwriters were influenced by them. There's very few good changes that you won't find somewhere in the Beatles' music.

    Still, a little theory wouldn't come amiss, to speed up the process. How much theory do you know already? Do you know what I-IV-V means? Do you know what it means it be "in a key"?

    If you want to start from absolute basics (theory itself, rather than songwriting tips), I recommend the following sites:
    http://www.musictheory.net/
    http://www.teoria.com/tutorials/index.php
    http://www.dolmetsch.com/theoryintro.htm
    (You could probably skip the stuff on notation and check out the chord pages - and then go back if you find you're not understanding some of it.)

    ...

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    • #3
      Thanks JonR,

      You're right as far as increasing the entire horizon of your listening pallet, especially of the classics; which I have a VERY DEEP awareness of everyone from Motown, all the Phil Specter artists, and session players, Beatles, Muscle Shoals, and even going back to the 30's, and 40's, including other genres. I know a little bit about progressions, circle of 5ths kind of stuff, but I DO thank you for the reference links, and will check them out.

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      • #4
        Here is a very quick tip:

        If you take a C major key for example, you have following chords:

        C major
        D minor
        E minor
        F major
        G major
        A minor
        B diminished

        So if you combine ANY of these chords together they will always sound fine. Offcourse every person will have its own preferences, but basicly any of these chords put together in a progression will sound allright.

        You have three major chords, three minor chords, and one diminished.

        If you combine just three major chords it will sound uplifting, positive etc...combining just minor chords will make the song very dark and eerie...and offcourse mixing them together, you get just that - a mixed mood.

        Sure, this is just a key of C, and there are other keys, but this can make you start.

        You can try and play with that, hope it helps..

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