As a beginner songwriter or musician, learning how to make chord progressions can be intimidating. However, with a little bit of knowledge and practice, it’s a skill that anyone can learn. In this article, we’ll go over the basics of chord progression creation, and provide three examples to help you get started.
For an introduction to chord progressions, check out this article.
If you’re already familiar with the basics of how to make chord progressions, here are three introductory examples to bring the concepts to life.
Example 1: Happy chord progression in C major
I-IV-V (C major-F major-G major)
This chord progression uses the tonic chord (C major) as the starting point, and includes the subdominant (F major) and dominant (G major) chords. The use of major chords creates a happy, upbeat mood.
Example 2: Sad chord progression in C major
ii-IV-V (D minor-F major-G major)
This chord progression uses the tonic chord (C major) as the starting point, and includes the subdominant (F major) and dominant (G major) chords. However, it also includes the minor ii chord (D minor), which creates a sad, mournful mood.
Example 3: Less common, but still simple, chord progression in C major
IV-vi-IV-V (F major-A minor-F major-G major)
This chord progression uses the subdominant (IV) chord as the starting point, and includes the submediant (vi) and dominant (V) chords. The inclusion of the submediant chord adds a unique twist to the progression, and the use of major chords creates a happy, upbeat mood. This progression is simple, but less common than some of the more traditional progressions, making it a great option for those looking to try something a little bit different.
A great exercise to try would be to modify the above chord progressions. Try replacing any of the chords with another chord from C major. The chords in C major are:
- C major
- D minor
- E minor
- F major
- G major
- A minor
- B diminished
Then, try to make your own! Experiment with combinations, and allows the sounds to become familiar. Another fun exercise is to delve into other keys. Common examples outside of C Major include C major, D major and A minor.
Chord progressions are the foundation of music. The only way to gain deep insight is through experimentation – so take out that guitar, sit by that piano, or pull up your DAW – and start creating!