How to learn chord progressions?


Chords are an integral part of any song. When you look at the basic structure of a song, you can find four to five chords based on the scale of the song. This is also known as the key of the song. These chords make up the whole song. In some cases, you can also find these four to five chords being repeated over and over again.

One of the aspects of learning any instrument is to learn chords. Since chords make up the whole song, learning this basic structure of a song will help you in completely understanding the structural components of the song and its composition.

Learning composition is one of the hardest things in music production, as it takes time and a lot of patience to master. Chords are one of the aspects that you must be good at when you are learning composition.

The number of tricks and effects you can do with chords to make a song interesting are countless. You can turn a song completely with just one chord change. It can go wrong sometimes however. This is where your lessons from music theory will help you in picking which chords to put together when you are writing chords for a song.

Chord progressions can be learned from studying popular songs as well as studying relative chords in each scale. Studying music theory based on scales will help anyone learn about chords in-depth without worrying about whether they are using the right chords are not. Chord progressions along with music theory can provide a lot of much help in music composition.

Just knowing that chord progressions are important for music production is one thing, but involving yourself and learning the finer details about how they work together will shorten the process of learning chords. In this article, I will walk you through different ways in which you can learn chord progressions and take your music production skills to the next level. Let’s get started.

What are chords?

Chords are nothing but a combination of notes that sound good together. If three notes are played together it’s called a triad. Based on the number of notes played together the name varies. There are different types of chords available such as minor chords, major chords, diminished chords, sustained chords and 7th chords. These chords make up the complete system of chords that we hear in everyday songs.

Learning these chords will make your life easier when composing songs, as you can do so faster . When you look at the bass notes in a song, they are nothing but a stripped-down version of the chords. When you look at the lead of a song, it is nothing but the combination of three or more chords. The notes are always the same in the song.

Learning how and where to use cords are two questions you have to know how to answer. To do this requires application and practice. When you start to practice chords, you will understand where to use and where to not use certain chords.

What is harmony? 

Simply put, harmony is nothing but a combination of musical notes that are in sync and in the process create a pleasing effect. When you look at music, there are three main elements that can be observed. First is the melody that carries the song along with the rhythm, and lastly there is harmony.

While the first two elements are there to make the song stand out, harmony can elevate a song from being normal to extra-ordinary. It changes the way a song is perceived. It’s hard to add harmony without understanding it properly, including when, and where to use it.

Harmony is like a composite product of voices grouped from a cohesive single string of sound. To put it simply , consider an orchestra: the guitar player is playing one note, and at the same time, the violinist plays a different note. Even though they are different notes, their parts are glued together which creates a perfect harmony.

Harmony is usually represented in terms of chords. When all the instruments in a particular section are playing notes that fit the same chord, it is referred to as a consonant chord. If all the elements don’t fit the chord but work with the melody on top, this is called a dissonant chord. This does not mean in any shape or form that harmonies aren’t intentional.

Usually, harmonies are fully scripted based on the various aspects of the song and the elements present in it. Sometimes, it’s just outlined by a composer and fully expressed by the players who are playing during the recording of the instrument. In the case of orchestras, harmonies are properly and tightly scripted to make sure that they don’t fall apart in the mix when the song comes along as a single unit.

When it comes to music theory, harmony is sometimes overanalyzed. It is also the same topic that gets misunderstood by a lot of musicians. Usually, there is an interval between notes that are played together. When you look at harmonies, you have to also understand consonance and dissonance.

Harmonies that are nice-sounding are called consonance and where they are rough they are referred to as called dissonance.

Consonance produces a feeling of calmness and puts you at ease, whereas dissonance has the exact opposite effect. Perfect 5th and 4th chords of major and minor usually make amazing consonance sounds.

The majority of the songs start and end in a consonance chord. This provides a feeling of being released and at ease, whereas a dissonance chord gives the feeling of being constantly stressed.

Dissonance chords create a bit of tension and movement. The minor seconds and major and minor 7ths are usually considered to be dissonance. When you write an augmented or diminished chord then it usually represents dissonance.

How harmony works

Before we start looking into how to use harmony, we have to look at the types of harmony as well. When playing a single chord, you can play it from of either open or closed harmony. Closed harmony is, as the term explains, when the notes are close together.

In terms of piano, this can be explained as the notes being from neighboring octaves. Open harmony uses more spaced-out versions of chords. In terms of piano, this can include variations from one or two octaves away. The intervals will tend to be grater when compared to a closed harmony.

The tonal part of music is also often misunderstood. Most music that we listen to today is called tonal music, which means that it it is centered on a single note, whereas this is not so with dominant and predominant types of music.

When it comes to the tonic chord, you don’t have to move from it. The third chord in any major scale, as well as the fourth chord in a minor scale are both tonic. The main major chords are tonics.

Dominant chords are the opposite of tonic chords. These are chords you want to move away from and are usually used right before a tonic chord. In the case of a major scale, the two dominant chords are the fifth as well as the seventh chords.

Predominant chords bridge the gap between both tonic and dominant. This is a type of chord that adds more color to the chord progression. This is can sometimes be used creatively as a passing chord as well.

There are two predominant chords. The second, and the fourth chord, are the predominant chords in any major scale. This is how harmony works together with chords, and is an integral part of learning chord progressions.

Cadences are like musical punctuation. Cadences are made up of at least two chords next to each other at the end of a phrase of music. Cadences can move a song forward but can also bring a song backward and end it.

They act as the comma’s and full stops in a piece of music. There are different types of cadences, the most important ones are a perfect cadence and plagal cadence.

If you see a dominant chord followed by a tonic chord, this would be an example of perfect cadence. A perfect cadence is equivalent to a full stop. The fifth and first chord of any scale are used for cadences. They make it feel like the music has come to a stop.

 Another type of cadence is plagal cadence. This is where a sub-dominant chord is followed by a tonic chord. This is because they too they end on the tonic chord, and so feel as if the music has come home and is finished. There are other cadences such as imperfect cadence which will make the music sound as if it’s continuous. They are the equivalent of a comma.

How to learn chords in instruments 

When you look at chords from an instrument-playing perspective, you find that you can easily improve your skill just by adding more chords to your playing style. To learn chords for any instrument, you have to start with the basics of understanding the notes in each of the instruments.

If you don’t know which note is which, in an instrument, you will have a hard time trying to find which notes can be combined to make a chord. The first and foremost step in playing any instrument, let alone playing chords, is to understand the notes in the instrument.

A chord is the layering of several tones, played together simultaneously to build harmonization. Chords are usually noted by the root note that they are playing. When you look at chords the first set of chords that you have to learn are triads. These are chords that consist of only three notes.

The chords consist of the root note, the third, and the fifth note. The most common triads are major, minor, diminished, and augmented. if you take a close look at all your favorite songs, you will find out that about 90% of these songs are based on the triads.

When you get started with triads, you can build yourself up to other chords, and at the same time perform multiple songs. Seventh chords are four-note chords that are played along with minor and major triads to add more flavor to the track.

The most common seventh chords are dominant, minor, diminished, and half-diminished. Only a fourth note is added to make this chord, along with the root triads. These seven chords are used to “add taste” and in some songs are used as cadences in order to transition into different parts of a song.

The next thing you have to know about chords is inversions. Inversions play a big role in making the chords sound a certain way so that you can incorporate variable transitions. In simple words, if a C chord has (CEG) then one or two notes will be played in alternate octaves to make an inversion.

The regular position of the triad is changed in an inversion. Inversions are so useful when you are performing live as well. They help you to move between chords easily and prevent you getting stuck playing a harder chord.

Another important thing about learning chords in any instrument is, understanding the basic functionality of that instrument in the music production process, and how it is often used. This will help you to understand where you should focus your concentration in learning music.

In the case of guitar for instance, learning the chords, first with music theory, will help you progress faster. It is the exact opposite with piano as you have to learn the notes first before you can even play the chords. Learning scales will however help you to progress faster in a piano.

Why chords are important in music theory 

Basic music theory is important for all musicians. You ignore it at your own peril. When it comes to chords, they make up the complete song and act as the backbone on which the song elements are put together. If you are a songwriter, putting a small amount of effort into music theory, will help you make massive gains, and aid your progress in music production.

One of the most valuable music skills is building chords. When you can build chords based on the music you hear, you are at a great advantage in terms of what you can achieve with music.

One of the important aspects of chords is that they are important in developing the structure of the song. They help to define how the song is based on sections and how they are going to progress. This is why earlier in the article I called chords the backbone of a song.

Music chords are simply a harmonic framework found within music. If you are trying to learn a genre of music, learning the most used chords in that genre will help you understand the genre better.

The beauty of chords is that they can be only played in a polyphonic instrument. These instruments produce more than one sound at a time. As mentioned before you need an instrument that can play more than one note to build a chord. These chords will act as layers in a song and help you to add a layer of melody on top to make a song come together.

In music, a scale is a specific sequence of notes that are arranged by ascending or descending order of pitch. Scales use semitones, whole tones, or a combination of both. It is important to understand the difference before reading further . A specific example of a scale is the major scale. This is a fundamental scale in music. The major scale is a seven-note scale that repeats over several octaves.

When you begin learning chords it’s better to start with the triads and then move on to the complex chords. The best way to progress faster in learning chords is to start taking classes on music theory. Music theory is a combination of all the concepts in music; it will definitely teach you a lot about forming chords.

If you learn how to do it on one scale, you will find it significantly easier doing this on other scales. The best advice would be to start in C scale and learn all the chords, and how they are made, from the ground up. This will mold your brain to think in terms of how a chord is made.

This will also help you when you learn a new scale as well. The intervals are something you have to keep in mind when you making chords or are even playing chords on a scale. This will help you remember the intervals while playing on another scale.

What is a chord progression? 

A chord progression is a series of chords played in a sequence. Progressions are used to add harmonic content to a song. They are also used to create a sense of ‘movement’ within the music. They can also be used to provide a melody with context, and allow the characteristics of a melody to be heard. 

A melody is a linear sequence of musical notes that are heard as a single entity. Chords can also be used rhythmically to make a song more interesting and unique. This is particularly relevant in genres such as Reggae, where the use of rhythm is a defining characteristic of the genre.

When it comes to chord progressions, they can change according to the mood and feel of the song. Each chord progression can create a different mood. Some chords will make the song happy, some can make the song sad and some can make the song hopeful.

There are chords that can make a song sound aggressive as well. It depends on which chords are used, and in what sequence. As we mentioned earlier, the use of cadences can also accentuate what a chord can do to a track.

Chord progressions are used to accompany and compliment drums by keyboard players when playing along in a band. If you don’t know how to play chords and chord progressions, you will have a hard time playing and learning them. Getting comfortable with chord patterns and various progressions is very important when it comes to music production and performances.

When you look at the music that creates happy moods, the chord progressions define the song more than the beat used in the song. The major chords are usually defined as ‘happy’ chords. To create a happy-sounding chord irrespective of scale , you can use the first, fifth, and fourth chords. Each of these chords will work together to create a happy-sounding atmosphere.

For music that creates a ‘sad mood’, the chord progression defines it. When it comes to sad chords, it all starts with a minor chord. If you start with a minor chord, the chord will sound more sad. This makes our ears think of minor as the home base chord.

That’s why it sounds to be sad. You can also start with a major chord and transition to a minor chord, and make it sound more sad. The progression is usually from fourth, sixth, first, and fifth. Adding more minor chords will make it sound more sad.

When you want to create a mood of hope, the chord progression is simple but creative. The chord progression is almost similar to the previous progressions. It starts with a four, five, sixth, first format. The sense of progression as we are stepping up from the major to the minor sixth is what makes the song sound hopeful when using a chord progression.

These can be your reference chord progressions, the real fun begins when you take these and make them your own by adding and changing the patterns. When using chords, always think about the purpose they serve. The message has to be conveyed through the chord.

What is the most common chord progression?

If you want to pinpoint a single chord, the c major triad is the most repeated and used chord progression in most songs. When you compare songs, sometimes it’s hard to say which chord gets used most. C major triad is the chord that learned by anyone who is starting to learn music professionally; this is one of the reasons why most of the producers almost write their first song in c major as well.

What is a good chord progression?

There is no chord progression that you can classify as a good chord progression. This is because the use of a set of chords depends on the purpose for which it will be used. In simple terms, based on the mood and message that a song or track wants to convey the chords will differ. If the producer has put together a set of chord progressions that matches the mood and stature of the song, then it can be considered a good chord progression.

What is a chord progression in music?

A chord progression is a combination of notes which harmonize together without sounding like a discord. There are different types of chords starting from triads, sevenths, sustained, and diminished. A chord progression can start from three notes and even extend up to 6 notes to make a chord. The more complex the chord progression, the more specific the tonality becomes. Depending on the time and place of a song, a chord progression is used.

How do you make a good chord progression?

There is no such thing as making a good chord progression. It’s all about putting together a set of chord progressions that work well together and with each other to convey the message and feel of the song. When you put together a chord progression, going over them again and again, looking at alternatives is essential. This is one of the reasons why your music theory should be very strong.

What is the saddest guitar chord?

The taste of a chord differs from person to person; some might say one chord is sadder than the other, normally minor chords have a sad ring to them. This is because of the difference in the half step when compared to the major scales. Associating the chord feel to each triad at the start of your learning experience is important in progressing faster.

Conclusion

Chord progressions are an essential part of making a song reach success. They provide a lot of depth to the song. If a song has perfect chord progression, then it accentuates the message of the song. If you are learning chord progression, make sure you spend more time learning music theory.

Music theory is all you need to start making moves in chord progressions. The stronger you are in music theory the better your chord progressions will be.

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