How To Find The Chords You Need For Songwriting

chords songwriting Aug 23, 2023



Are you looking to expand your songwriting abilities and break out of the typical chord progressions you've been using? In this blog post, we'll explore two fundamental theory rules that will revolutionize the way you approach chords in your songwriting journey. Understanding these rules will enable you to create captivating and unique chord progressions that convey a range of emotions and styles. So, let's dive in and discover how to unleash the full potential of chords in your songwriting process.

The Major Scale: Your Musical Foundation

At the core of all music theory lies the major scale, the building block of chord progressions. Don't be intimidated; learning it is simpler than you might think. The major scale is a series of notes arranged in a specific pattern, and it is the foundation for diatonic harmony, which underpins chords in a key.

The major scale pattern follows a sequence of whole steps (W) and half steps (H). A whole step is equivalent to two frets on a guitar, and a half step is one fret. The major scale pattern is W-W-H-W-W-W-H, and starting from any note, you can apply this pattern to create the major scale in any key.

The 1-7 Chord Progression

Once you understand the major scale pattern, you can apply it to construct chord progressions in any key. In a major key, the chords stack up as follows: major (1), minor (2), minor (3), major (4), major (5), minor (6), and diminished (7). Although the diminished chord is less commonly used, mastering the major and minor chords will cover the majority of songs you encounter.

The most crucial chords in the 1-7 progression are:

1. Major 1 (I)

2. Major 5 (V)

3. Major 4 (IV)

4. Minor 6 (vi)

The Major 1 chord serves as the tonal center, representing the "home" or "root" of your song. The Major 5 chord adds a sense of tension, creating a strong pull back(resolution) to the Major 1 chord. The Major 4 and Minor 6 chords are commonly used in numerous hit songs, and they allow you to add depth and emotion to your compositions.

Diatonic(major scale) Progressions

Diatonic progressions are widely used in a variety of musical genres. In the key of G, for example, the chords would be G major, A minor, B minor, C major, D major, E minor, and F# diminished. By familiarizing yourself with these chords and their roles, you'll unlock the potential to create captivating melodies and harmonies.

Using the Capo for Easy Key Changes

To explore different keys without learning new chord shapes, you can use a capo. Placing a capo on different frets allows you to play in various keys while using the same chord shapes as in the keys of G or C. This technique provides versatility and ease when exploring new chord progressions.

Minor Keys: Unleashing Emotion

While major keys are the most common, minor keys offer a distinct emotional impact. To write a song in a minor key, you can simply use the 6 minor chord as your tonal center. This means that the E minor chord, for example in G major (G major A minor, B minor, C major, D major, E minor, and F# diminished) becomes the focus of your progression. By incorporating more minor chords, you can evoke a melancholic or moody atmosphere, providing a stark contrast to major key compositions.


Incorporating these key theory rules into your songwriting toolkit will significantly enhance your ability to craft unique and emotionally charged chord progressions. By understanding the major scale and the 1-7 chord progression, you gain the power to create a vast array of melodies and harmonies that will captivate your audience.

So, go ahead and experiment with different keys, use a capo for easy key changes, and delve into minor chords to unleash a whole new world of emotion in your songwriting. Embrace the magic of chords, and let your musical creativity soar!

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