How to Write Chord Progression: Step by Step Guide

In the music industry, chord progression is considered as a form of art. The utmost important thing for any songwriters is to master this art.

Chord building and listening to the music time and again is a key thing that songwriters have to do, in order to get a perfect chord. But applying the right chord in the right place of the song is also necessary. Otherwise, the song would evidently lose its appeal.

But chords offer limitless possibilities. Hence starting out with chords is not only difficult but also repeating the same boring progression is somewhat boring.

In this article, we have described what chord progressions are, why they are displayed by roman numerals, the procedure it follows, some useful chord progressions tricks to memorize major and minor chords and many other important things about chord progressions. Therefore, without further ado, let’s begin.

What is Chord Progression?

They are a number of two or more chords used in a music piece. They are portrayed by roman number system and defined by the key.

How a musical composition will unfurl itself over the time is determined by the chord progression.

The narrative of any song is also defined by the chord progression of that composition. A simple chord choice at any point of music can change the whole vibe of the song.

A single chord cannot place its impact on music as much as a series of chord progressions would do. No matter if the progressions of the chords are simple, or repetitive, it has the ability to do the storytelling and portray the emotion.

Why is chord progression displayed by roman numerals?

In music, the relationship one note shares with another note is permanent. Hence, symbols are efficient shorthand to grasp how chords work in music.

Usually, in most cases, Roman numerals are used to illustrate how chords work in keys. In music, sets of notes constructed according to the repeating patterns are known as keys.

The good news is, the major and minor keys of music usually follow the same repeating pattern of chords. Therefore, you will not have a hard time understanding the chords. Memorizing two sequences will be enough to understand chord progressions.

Chord Progression

Photo credit- Brusheezy

How to write Chord progression on guitar

Step 1: Formation of chords in C

Most new guitarists find it hard to write a song on guitar. For them, diatonic chords are an easy solution. Using diatonic chords, you can write chord progressions that sound wonderful. Most of these will use major keys, and the good news is, 60-70% of trending music uses major keys.

Step 2: Rules for writing Chords

There are three rules for guitarists to follow for writing chord progressions. To avoid making it complicated, try to incorporate easier theories to write chords. One you understand the game of developing chord progressions, avoid using the generic theories. As a consequence, you will be able to write your own chords.

Write four majors of chord:

This is a beginner friendly way and you can be in pretty good shape with your chord progressions.

Start with one chord:

We suggest you start with a C major.

Finish with Chord IV or V:

The last chord needs to be the fourth or fifth one. That is, the F chord or G chord.

Instead of these mechanical processes, you can easily do it by following these three rules. A great sounding chord progression will be prepared with these.

Try strumming chords with C major and E minor following with F chord as the last one, you’ll be surprised by the amazing tune that comes up.

Step 3: General Chord writing advice

Start with a C major scale. From that, you can build up any major scale by following the formula of whole steps and half steps. Whole steps contain 2 fret and half steps contain 1 fret. The major and minor of these scales will put together a beautiful tune that you can use for bands.

Useful Chord Progression

Chord and sparks

To have a great base of writing chord progressions, you need to understand chords. In the prior section of our article, we have mentioned roman numerals and its usage for chords. Get to know some common pop chord progressions. This will have a spark in your chord progression writing.

Four-chord progression

The four-chord progressions consist of four keys. In different popular songs of the era, we see the song structure having a four chord progression. U2, The Beatles and even Avril Lavgine compiled their hit choruses using four chords. These commonly involve 3 major keys and 1 minor key.

Three-chord progression

Three chord progressions is the most basic progression. A newbie would even identify it. The I-IV-V and I-V-IV are widely used in pop music. If you are confused which chord to proceed with, you can go with three-chord progression. The best part about writing a three-chord progression is that it fits just right and sounds appealing.

Tips and tricks to memorize chord progressions

While some might argue about the efficacy of memorizing chords, it is important to note that, to play the chords fluently you have to memorize them. But it is undoubtedly difficult to memorize all the chords exactly. After a lot of research, we came up with some effective tips and tricks to memorize chord progressions so that you don’t have to!

Do some research on the chords:

This technique is one of the most efficient techniques to memorize chord progressions. But new songwriters tend to neglect this technique and consequently have a hard time while memorizing.

As mentioned before, the chords have a note-to-note relationship with each other. Therefore, when you study the chords, you will find some links between them. These links will help you to memorize your chords.

Visualize your chords:

While memorizing, try to visualize your chord with something. Contemplate your chords with some shapes you would be making on the fret board. Imagine as if you are playing them. Try to visualize how the directions of your hands change from chord to chord while your eyes are closed. This way will help you to memorize your chords quickly.

Repeat, repeat, and repeat

We will never get enough of this trick. After you are done with writing your chord, keep repeating it. The saying “Practice makes a man perfect” is fruitful in this regard. You cannot help but repeat your chord progression to memorize it. At least keep practicing and repeating your chord progression for a week. You will be mesmerized by the result.

Give your brain rest

While practicing is very much important, it is important you give your brain a little rest. You can follow the pomodoro technique in this regard. Practice for 25 minutes and take a break for 5 minutes. Go out on a walk, get some fresh air, make yourself a cup of coffee or simply gaze outside the window to take some rest.

How to use Chord progressions in songs?

The chord progressions in your music depend on the type of composition you choose to make. It can be simple, complex, repetitive, predictable, and even erratic.

Chords in music fit together in a variety of ways. Although songs built on two repetitive chords are not very common, it is not unusual as well. While starting out, beginners should take the simple route and begin with building chord progressions based upon two or three chords.

A songwriter owns the full freedom to build anything he likes in the world of music. Anyone can explore putting chords together to only see if they work. Instead of focusing on the rule, songwriters should focus more on intuition. Because at the end, the only thing that matters is building something which sounds good.

Is writing Chord Progressions beginner friendly?

If you are ready to step up your songwriting game, knowing how to write chord progressions is a must. By learning some popular chord progressions, you will enable yourself to dive into the world of songwriting. Besides, you’ll be able to catch how famous songs are written. The song structure is totally defined by chord progression.

Following the above mentioned steps to write chord progressions, you can ace in writing chord progression. And yes, even if you are a beginner, you can do it!

Final Thoughts

Undoubtedly, music theories are daunting. Hence, it is necessary that you follow an easy system that demonstrates the approach.

In the procedure section, we covered one key only. But after you understand how chord progression works in a music piece and the basics of chord progressions, please practice with several keys.

Music is difficult to learn from theory or from watching someone doing it. It is a skill that you need to develop over the period of time.

Have faith in your intuitions, pair keys together, note down your chord combination, hear them again and again- nothing can block you from forming an amazing chord progression.

You may also like to read: How To Play Power Chords?

Leave a Comment