Writing Songs With Three Chords or Less

three chords

Songwriting doesn’t have to be complicated, and sometimes simplicity can be the key to a memorable and impactful song. One way to simplify songwriting is by limiting the number of chords used in a song. In this blog, we’ll explore how to write songs with just three chords, and even songs with just two chords.

Three-Chord Songs

First, let’s dive into three-chord songs. The beauty of a three-chord song is that it can be simple and catchy without sacrificing emotional depth. The most popular chord progression for a three-chord song is the I-IV-V progression. This means using the first, fourth, and fifth chords in a given key. For example, in the key of C, the I-IV-V chords are C, F, and G, respectively.

Many famous songs use the I-IV-V progression, including “Louie Louie” by The Kingsmen, “Johnny B. Goode” by Chuck Berry, and “Wild Thing” by The Troggs. To make a three-chord song work, focus on writing a strong melody and lyrics that capture the emotion you’re trying to convey. Remember, with only three chords, it’s important to make the most out of every musical element of the song.

Two-Chord Songs

Now, let’s talk about writing songs with only two chords. The concept may sound limiting, but in reality, it can be liberating. The key to making a two-chord song work is to choose two chords that create a strong emotional impact. The most common two-chord progression is the I-V progression, which means using the first and fifth chords in a given key.

Examples of popular two-chord songs include “Fallin’” by Alicia Keys, “Born In The USA” by Bruce Springsteen and “505” by Arctic Monkeys. In addition to selecting the right chords, it is also important to think about the melody when writing a minimal song. Since there are fewer chords, the melody must be strong enough to carry the song. Try to come up with a melody that is simple yet catchy, and that complements the chords you have chosen. For example, “Fallin” by Alicia Keys allows her impressive vocal abilities to take over the focus and carry the song.

Overall, writing a minimal song with just three or two chords can be a refreshing and rewarding experience. By simplifying the structure and focusing on the essentials, you can create a powerful and memorable song that connects with listeners on a deep emotional level. With these tips in mind, you can start exploring the world of minimal songwriting and see where it takes you. Who knows, you might just create the next classic hit with just a few simple chords!

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