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
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.
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.
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.
“A composer is a guy who goes around forcing his will on unsuspecting air molecules, often with the assistance of unsuspecting musicians.”Frank Zappa
“Hell is full of musical amateurs.” -George Bernard Shaw
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.
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.
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.
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.
Win8.1 64x/Sonar X3/Live 9/Steinberg UR44/Roland HP 235/Edirol PCR-800/Eastman AC 222/Washburn D12/Behringer BCF2000 & BCF2000/Korg Nanopad 2/Focusrite VRM Box/AT2020/2xB5/Sennheiser E 825s/Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro 250/Tannoy 502