Songwriting Basics: Chord Progression

Chords add harmony and color to your melody as well as providing context. A good chord progression doesn’t need to be complex. Many worship songs are written with just three or four chords.

While there is quite a bit of theory behind why and how chord progressions work, it is easy to experiment and discover which chords sound good together. Typically, the melody will also give an idea of what the chord progression should be. The notes used in the melody will often be part of the chord played at the same time.

The two most common types of chords are called major and minor. Major chords have a happy sound while minor chords have a sad or melancholy sound. The ideal chord progression combines major and minor sounds to create tension and release.

Major and minor chords are grouped together into “families” which we call keys. Use the chords below as a starting place for your chord progressions. Feel free to mix them up and see how they work together. Once again, you will probably need a few chord progressions to accomodate your song’s structure. Sing your melody while playing your chord progression to make sure they work together.

Key of C:  C,  F,  G,  Am (the ‘m’ stands for minor)

Key of G:  G,  C,  D,  Em

Key of D:  D,  G,  A,  Bm

Key of A:  A,  D,  E,  F#m

Key of E:  E,  A,  B,  C#m

Key of B:  B,  E,  F#,  G#m

Key of F:  F,  Bb,  C,  Dm

Be sure to check out my other posts on songwriting here: Theme, Structure, Melody.

What are some of your favorite chord progressions?

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About Stephen James Carter

I have loved God ever since I can remember. Leading others in worship has always been the natural overflow of my heart for Him. Training others to lead is one of my gifts.

3 responses to “Songwriting Basics: Chord Progression”

  1. Grant Williams says :

    Great info. I read it and almost reached into my pocket to hand you money for a lesson.

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  1. Songwriting Basics: Lyric | Release Your Song - August 28, 2013

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