MAKING MUSIC WITH MARSHALL Part Five

Song structures & chord progressions

Posted: 11 February 2020

So you're now a champ at chords, but how do you pull them together into a standout song?

Now you’ve got the fundamentals of rhythm, chords, notes and scales and even some more advanced chords nailed, it’s time to put it all together into a song. This is where chord progressions come into play.

Put simply, a chord progression is a series of chords played in sequence that all work around a key. Different chords of a key are commonly displayed as Roman numerals I, II, III, IV etc. and will overall set the tone and mood for your song. The difference between major and minor keys can take a progression from happy and upbeat to sad and melancholic. In this article we’ll explain how you find the chords in a key and discuss the most commonly used chord progressions in music.

To better understand how these chord progressions work, we’ve put together a chord chart.

Sounding good right? But perhaps you're after something not quite so upbeat...

Want to spice things up a little bit? Try using major or minor 7th chords (Covered in our previous article) for a more interesting progression.

By learning these charts above, you’re essentially learning every popular song ever! Don’t take our word for it, the popular I-V-VI-IV progression is used in ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ by Journey, Bob Marley’s ‘No Woman No Cry’ and ‘Let it Be’ by The Beatles to name a few.

Below are a few commonly used progressions in modern music. These examples are in the key of C Major, but try transposing them to any other key using the charts above.

There we have it! Don’t forget to experiment with the key, the rhythm of your chords, the time signature of your song and experimenting with advanced chords to create a more unique progression.