Picking a Chord Progression Help
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Old 21-06-2013, 02:48 AM   #1
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Icon5 Picking a Chord Progression Help

What is the best strategy at picking the chord progression for a track? And how can you find the other notes and chords that will sound good with the progression?

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Old 21-06-2013, 08:13 AM   #2
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Re: Picking a Chord Progression Help

All I can say is listen to a lot of music, listen and use your ears, maybe learn an instrument or fiddle around in your DAW and just make music

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Old 21-06-2013, 09:39 AM   #3
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Re: Picking a Chord Progression Help

Learn a scale. Then learn more scales. Then learn the chords that fit these scales. Then spend a lifetime trying to come up with personal and original combinations of them all.

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Old 21-06-2013, 12:34 PM   #4
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Re: Picking a Chord Progression Help

I play bass guitar and trombone, so I do know some bass clef scales. And I feel like a complete noob for asking this, what's a DAW?
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Old 21-06-2013, 12:36 PM   #5
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Re: Picking a Chord Progression Help

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Originally Posted by Sulorak View Post
what's a DAW?
Digital Audio Workstation, the software in which you record/create/produce music. For some it's Ableton Live, Apple Logic, Cakewalk Sonar, Steinberg Cubase, Propellerheads Reason, etc etc.

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Old 21-06-2013, 12:58 PM   #6
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Re: Picking a Chord Progression Help

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Originally Posted by Evelon View Post
Learn a scale. Then learn more scales. Then learn the chords that fit these scales. Then spend a lifetime trying to come up with personal and original combinations of them all.
he is reffering to harmonization [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]


good concept to be familiar with.

after you're familiar with that, read something like this:

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Even so, if your ear is good enough, the tools in your DAW will likely make it easy enough to not rely on theory too much. I know a good bit of theory, but I almost always just use my ear.

Here's another tip, don't fall into the trap of just doing a chord for each bar and never repeating a chord or something. I hear this a lot, it's like people think every bar has to have a different chord or something. Interesting shit happens when you repeat a chord for a few bars, or maybe you have to chords in one bar.

If you really start to learn your shit, get a book of jazz standards and analyze what they are doing.


but IMO the ear is the most important thing. Develop your eaaaarrrrzz
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Old 21-06-2013, 01:10 PM   #7
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Re: Picking a Chord Progression Help

I thought of a couple of things to add.

there's two main ways (that come to mind anyway) for writing a chord progression.

1. you just sit down on a piano, guitar, or just the piano roll in your DAW and you come up with a chord progression by plunking around. After you're done you would usually write a melody to it. Check out "giant steps" this is most definitely how this song was written.

2. you write a melody (or a bass line or whatever.. just not chords) and then you harmonize that. This kind of a freer method, but I reckon it's easier to screw up also.
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Old 21-06-2013, 01:12 PM   #8
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Re: Picking a Chord Progression Help

one more thing...

a lot of times a basic chord progression is made to sound more exciting using extended harmony (after you read up on the other stuff i posted, google that ). Many times I play a track for people with a basic chord progression, and they're like "DOOD SICK CHORD PROG BRO" and it's really just a basic one with some interesting chord voicings/extensions.
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Old 21-06-2013, 01:17 PM   #9
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Re: Picking a Chord Progression Help

Ok, awesome. Thanks for all the help!
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Old 21-06-2013, 01:28 PM   #10
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Re: Picking a Chord Progression Help

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Start with one of these.and listen and learn..chords and scales all covered. Learn to play basci chords and scales..then worries about progressions. Walk before you run...learning a few scales and some chords..read the links others have listed and get those ears trained.

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Old 21-06-2013, 01:41 PM   #11
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Re: Picking a Chord Progression Help

Right, awesome sauce man. Thanks.
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Old 21-06-2013, 03:41 PM   #12
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Re: Picking a Chord Progression Help

Looks like I got a lot of reading to do. ;D
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Old 21-06-2013, 04:39 PM   #13
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Re: Picking a Chord Progression Help

Have you tried using progressions related to your key signature??? That usually does the trick...

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Old 21-06-2013, 04:58 PM   #14
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Re: Picking a Chord Progression Help

What I've found works best for me is to just sit down with my guitar and try out things. If they sound good, I can translate it to any other instrument.

It also helps knowing a but of theory. The more the better. That way it'll seem rather natural after a while.

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Old 21-06-2013, 05:03 PM   #15
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Re: Picking a Chord Progression Help

I would, but I don't know which ones go with the key signature. Say I'm in the key of C, what chords can I use?
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Old 21-06-2013, 05:13 PM   #16
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Re: Picking a Chord Progression Help

best strategy? thats kind of difficult cause no one strategy is the best. there are several ways to get the answer you want. what you need to do is find the one that you are most comfortable with. if learning some music theory works for you then there you go. but if your like me, and i know i am, then you may prefer to find the chords by ear. just think how you want the song to progress then mess around on the instrument until you find it.

knowing a little theory can never hurt you though. if im extremely stuck on something then ill fall back on my theory to get me outta the jam.

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Old 21-06-2013, 05:14 PM   #17
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Re: Picking a Chord Progression Help

I'm going to assume you mean the key of C Major, so the simplest logical progression we be something like I, III, V, so C, E, G.

You can use any chords within the key though. C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C

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Old 21-06-2013, 05:16 PM   #18
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Re: Picking a Chord Progression Help

It'd be easier to learn if you have a keyboard to play on, nothing fancy, mine even has the keys labeled on't he case. Sooo helpful. Hit C, then float around the rest of the octave and ee what sounds good. Then from that key, find the next note that sounds good, keep going. Back, forward, doesn't matter.

As for chords themselves, there are some simple ones to start. I would suggest watching at least a video on 1/2 steps, and whole steps in relation to chords. If I was at my computer, I'd find the video I saw. It will probably discuss perfect fifths, minor and major chords specifically as well.

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Old 21-06-2013, 05:32 PM   #19
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Re: Picking a Chord Progression Help

Quote:
Originally Posted by ckiiln View Post
What I've found works best for me is to just sit down with my guitar and try out things. If they sound good, I can translate it...
This! As a guitar player first, sound designer second and piss poor keyboard player I tend to do a lot of the above. I can find a key and play along on keys but I'm far more comfortable and have an extended "vocabulary" with the guitar. As a result, my guitar parts are more expressive.

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Old 21-06-2013, 05:36 PM   #20
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Re: Picking a Chord Progression Help

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Originally Posted by Sulorak View Post
I would, but I don't know which ones go with the key signature. Say I'm in the key of C, what chords can I use?
I'm sorry but I feel a need to urge you to take a step back from theory and just listen to your music. After all, you want to make music because you feel it and you love music, right?

There's no formula or blueprint and from what I've read so far you're just starting out unto this vast amazing journey of joy. If you have the slightest bit of talent or love for music you will HEAR what sounds good and what doesn't. If you don't you might as well throw in the towel now.

I'm guessing you don't own a keyboard and I would strongly urge you to buy a cheap used $10 dollar board which you can plug in to just to be able to play some synths and have a direct communication with what you're producing, rather than drawing in notes on an abstract grid which yet means nothing to you at this point without the knowledge of keys and scales.

Some basic theory can help you out in the end but first and foremost it's your ears that are your main instrument. Even if you do decide to work without a keyboard in the beginning and just draw in some random notes you will hear what sounds good and what doesn't.
From there on you can learn and progress.

I read a lot of discussions about chords and theory and it's almost like a show-off contest of people reassuring themselves and others they actually have a clue as to what they are doing but it means shit when coming up with a nice tune.

I'm guessing at least 50% of popular music is written on variations of the G-D-C chord progression yet they're all different songs because of the arrangements, lyrics, rhythm and feel. Just play and listen, then digest some basic theory to aid you but don't use it as a starting point for composing cause at this stage it won't help you the tiniest bit.

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