How To Turn A CHORD Progression Into A Complete SONG

How To Turn A CHORD Progression Into A Complete SONG

Tommaso Zillio

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chord progressions songs

Do you have an easy time writing chord progressions but struggle with turning those progressions into songs?

Believe me, you are in good company!

But I guess knowing that you are not alone may not bring you much comfort. You'd rather learn how to take a progression and add new sections, melodies, other layers, etc., right?

While there are many possible ways to write a song, there is a principle that is particularly relevant with what we are talking about... and that may be a big help to you

This principle is: "economy of means"

No, it does not mean that you have to buy the cheapest guitar and amp you can find.

Instead, it has to do with looking at your chord progression and trying to squeeze more ideas or sections out of that progression...

... as opposed to starting from square one and writing a new chord progression for every new section that you write.

(The latter leaves your songs disjointed and un-memorable)

So how do you do this? How do you really "squeeze" every drop of musical juice from a chord progression?

Why, just watch the video below... so you can start writing songs rather than mere chord progressions.

What if your issue is with the chords themselves? Do you want to unnderstand chords further and how to use them all over your fretboard? Check out my Complete Chord Mastery guitar course if you want to understand way more about chords and harmony onn the guitar.

Video Transcription

Hello internet so nice to see you. A chord progression is not a song, a song is, of course, much more than just a chord progression. But how do we go from chord progression to song? How do we arrange a chord progression so that it becomes more and more song-like, and more interesting than just strumming a few chords?

Well, a student some time ago asked me exactly that. And during the lesson, we went through several tricks, including adding pedal points, writing melodies on top superimposing different voicing of the chord and in a monent I'm going to show them to use so that you can learn them too. And you can follow along and learn how to arrange a chord progression.

If you want to know much more about all that I have a lot more tricks in my course complete chord mastery, which I recommend you guys to check out where we take chord progression. And we arranged them to become more song like and more useful for real life music, but let's go and see some of those tricks.

So I have this chord progression, and I want to harmonize it. And I know I need to take out the third and the fifth. And I want to see what I can do with another guitar later on.

Very good. Okay, can you play the chord progression for me? So we have D minor?

I think d minor, that it's something with D slash A and it's a fancy G chord, but I don't know the last one. But I know it sounds good. So okay, I see that something so we need to find out more or less what you're doing. So you correct the first chord is D minor. position. So the problem the second chord your are playing as the D minor sus2. Okay, we can entertain the idea of the base. Okay, next chord is G minor with a bass of D. So right now you have kind of pedal point in D, it could mean that you're holding these D note all the time, which is good.

So I can even drop it and drop D later on.

If I drop it exactly there was a winner then when next suggesting you drop it in your bedding Drop D so you have always the lower string tuned in D which I'm not gonna do right now because I have a floating bridge, you're going to be prompted to do that.

And the last chord you're playing, you're playing D, you're holding the bass of D even on the last chord. Okay, so and then a major with a base of the sub at least. But it works because you've kept these note at the base for the whole thing, save a better note of the all the way throughout. If I were to take out the pedal, the progression will start moving forward in a sense.

Makes sense? I mean, it's legit. Yeah, you can do it either way. And by the way, you can do it both ways in the same song. So what many composers and songwriters do right now is that they play the in the intro the play everything we depend on. Or in the verse everything with a pillar no so It's kind of symbolic of you being stuck in the same position. But by and large your waist here and then later.

So the first D minor is still the minor and you can play very good. The next D minor. I'm thinking of the index finger but since I'm there, I'm putting this index finger on the F I actually like to change completely the fingering because it's easier for me. But it's a D minor sus2 with a bass of F.

It's a demanding first inversion with an add nine, whatever you want to call it, okay, it's really not a problem. But it's not exactly the same position as before. And you just played the G minor but then played with a base of G. So I'm doing I'm doing just a barre and then playing only the strings 6, 3, and 1. Exactly. And then for a I'm playing the open strings and it's just a standard in the thing is if I started playing these.

It sounds cool. It's okay there is no problem but the is just again, the usual standard 145 In a key. But since you start playing the pedal point, then it becomes special because you created this kind of expectation and the thing was moving, the chord progression was moving, but it was fixed in the same place, because we're playing these D over and over.

And then you change the bass following the chord progression and the chord progression has a much bigger emotional impact. Make sense? So far? Yes. And I was thinking already ahead. So what if I added to piano on the next slide? They said, Yes.

And you can't you cannot emulate your piano strings, whatever. It depends where you want to go with the song. Okay. But right now, just from a standpoint of harmony, that's what's happening. Okay. Now, we want to harmonize these chord progressions.

I want one the second guitar part essentially, yes, fantastic. The first thing that comes to my mind in this case that you have two main possibilities, possibility number one is distorted guitar, playing a high melody. Yes. But like one note per chord.

So it feels like it's part of the background, not not a solo in the foreground, okay. It's like a very high note. So for instance, you play the minor.

Okay, probably can't hear. Well, they're gonna do that you play the chord progression I'm showing you and then play the melody so you can hear them. Yes, that's what I'm thinking.

What I’m doing is I'm playing the F on the D minor is the third, the third is always a safe bet. Okay. When you do the search for still sorry, I'm following you. So I'm playing the E note. So we're winning together and you play the D? Yeah, sorry, the G minor.

What am I am playing the D note, which is the fifth. And just because I created this movement, I just keep going. Okay, whenever, whenever you create a movement in some direction, going up or going down, your first choice is always let's keep going with the movement. And let's see if I land on a right note. And if you do, this typically sounds good.

Okay. So in this case, d. It's another G minor, with everybody you playing. So it works. And then when you go to a I keep going the same direction that hit a C sharp and that works with the eight you're playing. Yes, it makes sense. Then at the end, I just do a little flourish on the final notably, make sense. Okay, so that's Possibility number one.

Hi, guitar possibly distorted or not, right. Now, I don't have any distortion, but single note, okay. So that it creates this kind of extra stratospheric level of melody makes sense. Yes, makes sense. Idea number two, play the same chord you're playing down here, just find an inversion that works up here.

So you have the minor from here, and you're playing the D as to which you get by taking the F note and lowering your sound this way, which again, okay, I'm gonna have the G minor, then you're gonna choose to go up or down, I will go up so you're gonna have the A. Okay, so now you play again and they play this. And of course, you can go:

The other direction ascension or something like that. So you can always move up and down freely. That's what I will do to harmonize all these now, whether you bring this layer, you use all these layers and you bring them one at a time. Or you bring in one and then take one out and you bring another one in, or you bring them in all together and then take a model together.

That's completely up to you, depending on what kind of story you want to tell with your song. That's another thing to think that yes. But as I sing a thing that will be hard to explain in words. And the best thing to do this is you record everything on your computer on a different track and you try muting and unmuting or distraction.

Okay, and you start hearing a song and then you copy those parts and so that they maybe you start thinking you will think and you move on to different on different tracks and Ready to build up this thing? And so you also can hear how much repetition Do you want to move into different sections and where?

Okay, but there are many things to do it and the best way is to just just record this progression once or twice and then just copy every single loop everything is yes. Once you then once you have an idea of what thing happens and where do you depart come in and out.

You can always mute the track and create another one record and genuinely record the track rather than just looping it which is going to sound better if you record the whole thing, but the looping is just to sketch where things go. That makes sense. Yeah, makes sense. Fantastic. Thank you Nigel. Thank you so much.

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