Chord progression

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Liam

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« on: September 14, 2018, 03:18:29 AM »
Hi I'm trying to get my head around chord progression apparently the c chord is made up of C E G does this mean you have to play C E G in that order and if I start the song with the chord C does that mean that the song is in the key of C or can I use any of the notes in the key of C
To be honest not really understanding how this works despite watching quite a few you tube videos -I think that I must be stupid - I. Just like to me chords in any order  - doing my head in to be honest

jacksimmons

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« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2018, 10:43:41 AM »
Hi Katie!

You liked the chords and melody I wrote for your lyrics Davy Wilson the other day. Well it may comfort you to know I have never concerned myself with the theory of chords and keys and notes when writing a song. If you begin to sing and play you will come to realise on your own which chords sound 'right' and where. What basic music theory I do know I learnt a long, long time after I first started writing songs, and knowing it now hardly factors at all in to how I write vocal melodies.

I would say - pick a chord, and start singing, and try and hear the vocal melody you want to sing in your head. Now play the chords you need to play to make the song you're singing work. Don't worry about whether you are singing and E note or a B note and whether you can sing that note over the chord you're playing. Just play and sing and do what sounds right. This is how I learnt to write songs and to a certain extent how I still write songs and it works well for me.

tone

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« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2018, 05:27:05 PM »
Good reply from Jack, but to answer your questions specifically:
apparently the c chord is made up of C E G does this mean you have to play C E G in that order
No. You can play the notes in any order and they will still make up a C chord.

and if I start the song with the chord C does that mean that the song is in the key of C
No. It means only that C is one of the chords you're using. However, if C is the 'home' chord for your song (the chord that has a 'resolved' feeling when you play it in the context of your melody) then you probably are in the key of C

can I use any of the notes in the key of C
You can use any note that sounds good. If you're deliberately trying to stay in the key of C, then use the notes from the key of C, but really, don't overthink this too much

To be honest not really understanding how this works despite watching quite a few you tube videos -I think that I must be stupid - I. Just like to me chords in any order  - doing my head in to be honest
You're not stupid in the slightest. Learning chord theory is quite hard if you're completely new to music. I would concur with Jack that your time will be far better spent just playing around with chords. Which ones sound good together? (If you struggle here, simply look up the chords to your favourite songs on the internet and copy them to begin with) Use them. Make up melodies. The more confidence and experience you build doing this, the more the theory will begin to make sense.

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Boydie

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« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2018, 06:53:00 PM »
@Katieoasis You appear to be confusing 2 separate parts of music theory:

chord harmony (Ie which notes to play together to make a chord)

chord progressions (chords played one after the other to make a song)

Both areas can be quite complex BUT they can also be very simple to learn and use

Chord Harmony

For someone new to music theory I would restrict yourself to only thinking about 2 different types of chords: Major chords and Minor chords (for now ignore any other types of chords such as diminished, augmented, dominant 7ths, suspended chords etc. - these are all very easy to learn once you understand the Major and Minor chords

If we keep all of our examples to the key of C Major it will help as the key of C Major happens to have no sharps or flats - so on a piano it is just the white notes

The NOTES in the C Major scale are therefor: C D E F G A B C

MAJOR chords are made up by playing the following notes at the same time: 1st (root note), which in this case is C, the 3rd note of the scale (Major Third), which in this case is E, and the 5th note of the scale, which in this case is G

If you play these notes together at the same time you will be playing a C Major chord, which has a "happy" sound

The difference between a Major and a Minor chord is that the 3rd note is "flattened" - i.e. Dropped by a semi-tone (half step) - on a piano/keyboard this means the note DIRECTLY to the left, which could be a white note or a black note) and on a guitar it means going down 1 fret

In the key of C a C Minor chord is therefore the following notes played together: 1st (C), Flattened 3rd (Eb) and the 5th (G)

The formula works for any Major or Minor chord - but you need to build the chord based on the Major scale of the different root note

However, in practice when learning an instrument you are likely to not think about this theory and simply learn the chord shapes and how to move them around to create different chords

The other area of chord theory relates to Chord Progressions

Once you have learnt the different chord shapes you will want to know which chords "go together" in a progression to make a song

Fortunately I have previously produced a podcast with @tone @James Nighthawk and @beckylucythomas with an accompanying post here:

http://www.songwriterforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=9447.0

I would recommend taking a listen and have a read through the thread

Let me know what you think and feel free to post any questions as understanding chords is key to songwriting
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Liam

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« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2018, 11:07:36 PM »
Hi thanks @boydie I will definetly take a look, I think I was confused because I thought "wait a minute there's no C string on the Guitar " but I suppose you need to know the fret positions of notes on the guitar to work out where to put your fingers

@jacksimmons thanks Jack , what you did the otther day sounded great - at the moment that's kind of what I'm doing just playing around a bit learning different chords but I'm trying to get a bit of an understanding of music theory

@tone thanks for answering some of my questions and for helping me , I'd like to get my head around it but as you say it's about enjoying it as well

Liam

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« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2018, 11:17:55 PM »
@boydie
Hi I've had a look at it (I've actually seen it before ) and if I'm honest if goes completely over my head - sorry

Boydie

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« Reply #6 on: September 15, 2018, 10:46:49 AM »
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if I'm honest if goes completely over my head - sorry

@Katieoasis But isn't that the point of learning  ;)

We can take it in very small steps if you want to learn this stuff

The first step is to understand exactly what it is you want to learn

If it is music theory and how to create chords you need to first understand the Major scale

Do you have access to a piano/keyboard? - even if you want to play a different instrument in my experience it is best to understand music theory when related to a keyboard

If you do I am very happy to guide you through the process of understanding the Major scale, Keys and how you can use this knowledge to create any chords - and then this will give you the basic theory you would need to understand the podcast and thread I linked to about how you can fit different chords together to make chord progressions/songs
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Liam

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« Reply #7 on: September 15, 2018, 04:23:33 PM »
Hi thanks @Boydie
I'll explain what I do and don't understand - I've learnt some basic chords C G Em E D Dm A Am which is something I suppose and I have started to learn something about the fretboard and octaves by watching various you tube clips

I know there are 12 notes A A# B C C# D D# E F F# G G#- B E don't have flats ( is a flat the same as a minor .

And I think that they're are 8 notes in a scale ( I think a key is basically the same thing )

I have some very basic questions - I know that the 3rd fret on both the top and bottom E string  is a G - if I hold down the E string on the 3rd  fret and play just that string am I playing a G note and if so what is the difference between that and when I play a G chord with 3 fingers - is it not the same ?

Also If I hold down say the the 5th fret on both the top and bottom E this is an A - if I strum all 6 strings is this still an A or something else or nothing - silly questions I know but they are confusing me

And probably now the thing that is confusing me most is the major scale - there's this thing about 1, 3 5 and , 2,4 , 6

I don't have a keyboard sorry - this is how I am thinking but it's probably wrong - with the C MAJOR scale do I have to know where the C is on the fretboard and then then put my other fingers on the E and G positions on the fretboard because these are the 3 and 5 notes of the scale

And if I wanted D major would that be D F G and find the notes on the fretboard  as these are the 1, 3, 5 notes on the D scale

I've either got a bit of an understanding or I'm barking completely up teg wrong tree thanks Katie

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« Reply #8 on: September 16, 2018, 07:41:08 AM »
@Katieoasis

Thanks Katie - there is a mixture of a bit of understanding and a bit of confusion

I promise I will go through each line of your post and give explanations -  it will need to do it when I am at a proper PC and not a phone/iPad so may take a while

It has been really useful to know that you only have access to guitar and that you already know a few chord shapes so we can get you up to speed in no time  ;D
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Liam

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« Reply #9 on: September 16, 2018, 08:34:45 AM »
Ok thanks @boydie

Boydie

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« Reply #10 on: September 17, 2018, 11:26:48 PM »
@Katieoasis - OK, strap in, here we go.....

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I'll explain what I do and don't understand - I've learnt some basic chords C G Em E D Dm A Am which is something I suppose and I have started to learn something about the fretboard and octaves by watching various you tube clips

This is great that you have learnt some chords - we will learn later on how you can piece these together to create songs

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I know there are 12 notes A A# B C C# D D# E F F# G G#- B E don't have flats

There is some misunderstanding here...

Your notes are correct but I think you have made a typo - there is a B flat and E flat note (which are the same as A# and D# respectively) - but there is not a B# or E# (well, technically there can be - but for now there is not  ;))

The important thing to remember is that each of the 12 notes you listed are a SEMI-TONE apart (which on a guitar means one fret and on a keyboard it means adjacent keys including the black notes)

This is why the piano black keys are grouped as they are - ie there is no black note between the B & C and between the E & F notes, which is what gives the black notes their 2 and 3 grouping - this is why this is easier to explain using a keyboard/piano - if you don't have access to one it would be useful to look at the picture at this link:



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( is a flat the same as a minor .

No, A FLAT is a note a Semi-Tone lower than a white note on a keyboard (which is exactly that same not as the previous white note raised a Semi-Tone)

So if we look at the keyboard image C# and Db are exactly the same note

When we talk about "flattening" a note we mean drop it by one Semi-Tone, which is 1 fret towards the headstock on a guitar and on a piano it is the key DIRECTLY to the left of the note, whether it is a black or white note)

When we talk about "sharpening" a note we mean raising it by one Semi-Tone, which is 1 fret towards the body on a guitar and on a piano it is the key DIRECTLY to the right of the note, whether it is a black or white note)

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And I think that they're are 8 notes in a scale

There are 8 notes in the Major scale - which is the most important scale in western music and most things can be understood by relating them to this scale

There are different types of scales with different numbers of notes - eg a Chromatic Scale would include all 12 notes played one after the other and a Pentatonic Scale contains 5 notes - but for now we will stick to the 8 notes of the Major scale

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( I think a key is basically the same thing )

No, - a "Key" is best described as the "tonal centre" of a piece of music

What on Earth does that mean!!!! - well, it means that in western music certain scales and chords sound "right" together - so you can learn the scales and chords that fit together, which helps you write songs using chords and melodies that will "work" together

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I have some very basic questions - I know that the 3rd fret on both the top and bottom E string  is a G - if I hold down the E string on the 3rd  fret and play just that string am I playing a G note and if so what is the difference between that and when I play a G chord with 3 fingers - is it not the same ?

Now we are getting to the interesting bit!

If we stick to the key of C Major for a minute...

You can play the note of C by playing the 8th fret of both the top and bottom E strings - this is playing a NOTE

A chord is playing more than one note at a time - and a Major chord contains 3 separate notes (sometimes referred to as a "Triad", which is not to be confused with Chinese gangsters!!!!)

We are using the key of C Major in this example - as it does not contain any Sharps (#) or Flats (b)

So, the notes of the C Major scale are: C D E F G A B C

The "formula" for a Major chord NEVER changes, which is the 1st note - known as the ROOT (C), Third degree of the scale (remembering in music you always start the count on the note you are on, which gives us the note of E) and the 5th (you start counting again from the C, which gives us G)

So the CHORD of C Major contains the notes C, E, and G (known as the Major Triad)

A guitar has 6 strings and a pianist has 10 fingers - so the notes can be repeated any number of times and they do not have to be in that order because they are played at the same time so there is no "order" - but the overall sound will vary depending on which notes are lower and higher, which can lead to playing "Chord Inversions", where a note other than the root note is the lowest note - but for now we just want to understand the Major chord

You mentioned early you can play the C Major chord on guitar - if you do this you will notice you are playing C, E, and G

So - let's work out that G Major chord

The G Major scale contains the following notes: G A B C D E F# G (Notice how similar it is to the C Major scale - there is only one note different, the G Major scale contains an F# rather than an F)

So to play a G Major chord the FORMULA is consistent: ROOT (1), 3rd and 5th - which gives us G, B & D

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Also If I hold down say the the 5th fret on both the top and bottom E this is an A - if I strum all 6 strings is this still an A or something else or nothing - silly questions I know but they are confusing me

For fun let's try and work out the Chord you describe...

The A Major scale contains the notes: A  B  C#  D  E  F#  G# A

You are playing the 5th fret on the 6th string giving the note of A
If you play the 5th string "open" (with no fingers) you are also playing the note of A
If you play the 4th string "open" (with no fingers) you are playing the note of D
If you play the 3rd string "open" (with no fingers) you are playing the note of G
If you play the 2nd string "open" (with no fingers) you are playing the note of B
If you play the 1st string at the 5th fret you are playing the note of A

So if we put the notes in alphabetical order, and ignore duplicates, you are playing the following notes: A  B  D  G, which is ROOT, 2nd, 4th and Flattened 7th

This is clearly not a "simple" chord and if you play it on guitar it does not sound like a "normal" chord - the following might get a bit confusing but to name the chord we could approach it as: A9sus4 (A is the root, B is the 9, D is the sus4 and G is the Dominant 7th) - although this chord should really also include the 5th (E)

Interestingly - if you just change the ROOT note from A (5th Fret of the low E) to B (7th fret of the low E) and keep all of the other notes the same you would be playing all of the notes of Bm7#5

This was just a bit of a diversion to explore what you came up with - I do not expect you to understand this last bit at all. It was simply to show that anything can be worked out using theory and chords can be very similar to each other

So lets get back to helping you understand the basics....


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And probably now the thing that is confusing me most is the major scale - there's this thing about 1, 3 5 and , 2,4 , 6

If we go back to the picture of the Keyboard - I have already said that the C Major scale does not have any Sharps (#) or Flats (b) - so if you played all of the white notes from C to C you would play the C Major scale

The key part is not necessarily the NOTES you are playing but the pattern of SEMI-TONES and TONES (which is 2 Semi-Tones, which is the same as 2 frets, which is the same as 2 keys on a keyboard)

So we can see that pattern of TONES and SEMI-TONES that fall between the white notes, which I will walk you through below:

C to D is a TONE (because there are 2 semi-tones - a semi-tone between C and C# and then another Semi-Tone between C# and D)
D to E is a TONE (because there are 2 semi-tones - a semi-tone between D and D# and then another Semi-Tone between D# and E)
E to F is a SEMI-TONE (because there is only a semi-tone between E and F)
F to G is a TONE (because there are 2 semi-tones - a semi-tone between F and F# and then another Semi-Tone between F# and G)
G to A is a TONE (because there are 2 semi-tones - a semi-tone between G and G# and then another Semi-Tone between G# and A)
A to B is a TONE (because there are 2 semi-tones - a semi-tone between A and A# and then another Semi-Tone between A# and B)
B to C is a SEMI-TONE (because there is only a semi-tone between B and C)

So - we now have a FORMULA for creating a Major Scale, starting on any ROOT note the pattern is: TONE, TONE, SEMI-TONE, TONE, TONE, TONE, SEMI-TONE

This pattern NEVER changes - but if you start on a different note then all of the notes of the Major scale change accordingly, and the jump between TONES and SEMI-TONES could land on a "black note" - giving us Sharps and Flats

So for giggles, let's work out the notes of the G Major Scale using this pattern - remembering the PATTERN doesn't change:

We are starting on the note of G - so a TONE up from G is A (ie a Semi-Tone from G to G# and then another Semi-Tone from G# to A)
A TONE up from A is B
A SEMI-TONE up from B is C
A TONE up from C is D
A TONE up from D is E
Now here is where you need to keep faith with the PATTERN...
A TONE up from E is F# (a Semi-Tone from E to F and then another Semi-Tone from F to F#)
A SEMI-TONE from F# brings us back to G

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I don't have a keyboard sorry -

Hopefully the image of a keyboard I posted will help you understand - a guitar is the same but there is no indication of the sharps and flats (black notes) - each fret is a semi-tone apart (which is why it is easier to think of TONES as 2 semi-tones)

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this is how I am thinking but it's probably wrong - with the C MAJOR scale do I have to know where the C is on the fretboard and then then put my other fingers on the E and G positions on the fretboard because these are the 3 and 5 notes of the scale

No - Playing the notes of C, E and G at the same time will play a C Major CHORD

To play a C Major SCALE you would need to find a C note on the fretboard (eg at the 3rd fret on the 5th (A) string and then use the PATTERN of TONES and SEMI-TONES described above, where a TONE = 2 frets and a SEMI-TONE = 1 fret

So if we just stick to the 5th string and start at the C on the 3rd fret our Major scale would look like this:

Root - C @ 3rd Fret
Up a TONE (2 frets) D @ 5th fret
Up a TONE (2 frets) E @ 7th fret
Up a SEMI-TONE (1 fret) F @ 8th fret
Up a TONE (2 frets) G @ 10th fret
Up a TONE (2 frets) A @ 12th fret
Up a TONE (2 frets) B @ 14th fret
Up a SEMI-TONE (1 fret) C @15th fret

There are obviously easier ways to play the Major scale by going across the strings (rather than up the fretboard on one string) - but the good news is that because the PATTERNS are the same you can learn patterns and shapes on the guitar for CHORDS and SCALES that can be moved around, there is no short cut to this - you just gotta learn them, but you are already off to a good start with the chords you have already learnt

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And if I wanted D major would that be D F G and find the notes on the fretboard  as these are the 1, 3, 5 notes on the D scale

No - but nearly...

You could use everything I have said so far in this thread to work this out

Here are the steps (and I will give you the answers as we go along but please use this last question to work out the notes as it uses everything I have posted so if you understand how we get to the following answer you will be well on your way...)

We first need to work out the notes of the D Major scale

If you find D on the picture of the keyboard and apply the PATTERN of TONE, TONE, SEMI-TONE, TONE, TONE, TONE, SEMI-TONE you will get the following notes:

D  E  F#  G  A  B  C#  D

To work out the notes of the D Major CHORD we need the ROOT (1), 3rd and 5th, which are D (Root)  F# (3rd), and A (5th)

Now play D on your guitar and you are probably playing it this way:

Not playing the low E and A strings and starting your chord with the open 4th string - which is the D note (the Root note)

You will have a finger on the 2nd fret of the 3rd string - which is an A note (the 5th)

You will have a finger on the 3rd fret of the 2nd string - which is another D note (another Root note)

You will have a finger on the 2nd fret of the 1st (high E) string - which is an F# note (the 3rd)

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I've either got a bit of an understanding or I'm barking completely up teg wrong tree thanks Katie

You had a bit of confusion and I am NOT expecting you to understand everything I have said in one sitting!!!

Take it slowly and work through each bit (ignoring the bit where we go a bit "off piste" with the A9sus4 and Bm7#5 chords for now!!!!)

The whole discussion is wrapped up nicely with the identification of the notes of the D Major chord

It is obviously very difficult to teach this stuff just through the written word - it would be much quicker playing examples etc. but hopefully this will set you off on the right track

In reality you will simple learn and memorise the common chord and scale shapes - the theory can help understanding but it is certainly not vital at this stage

When you have had a read please feel free to post any questions

Happy reading!

Boydie
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Liam

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« Reply #11 on: September 18, 2018, 07:31:54 PM »
@Boydie thanks for all this information I will take it slowly xxx

hardtwistmusic

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« Reply #12 on: September 18, 2018, 08:12:43 PM »
Hi Katie:  Here is a little bit of info that should build some confidence that you CAN (over time) process all this info.  BTW... you have some wonderful info that's been given you here.  So wonderful that I'm going to print this whole thread for reference and review. 

I spent YEARS slowly building an understanding of KEY Signatures, Chord Structure, and notes.  After years of slowly building an understanding, I felt confidant enough to take a music course at the local Community College.  Of about ten people who actually finished the course (out of about 14) I was the only one who really got anything positive from the course.  And that was only because I spent two hours after every class working hard to understand the information that was presented in the class.  Realistically, the class should have gone at a FAR SLOWER pace. 

But... the point is that I DID get very postive value from the course.  Over time, (and with a lot of work and effort) this info from this thread will all come clear to you.  I also recommend taking a music course.   If (like me) you are committed to learning, it will be a good experience.  BUT. . . be aware that they WILL go too fast for you.  Too much info too quickly.  So you MUST take good notes and return to the to figure things out.  The more you learn, the easier it gets btw. 

I won't attempt to add anything to the (already imposing and almost intimidating) bunch of information that you've already received. But, after wading through this for a week or two, if you contact me with a p.m. that includes an e-mail address, I will send you some simpler explanations (simpler because they come from a non-expert, simpler musical mind -- my own mind) and were created by me to BE simpler and easier to understand at a glance. 

Boydie (I think it was Boydie) gave you a wonderful tool in the picture of the keyboard.  If you have a keyboard, you can use it to understand chords, keys etc.  If you do not, a picture (like the one Boydie provided) is just as good. 

Anyway, let me know if/when you feel less overwhelmed, and might be ready to take another step.  I'm pretty sure I can help you take another step in making sense of all this.  I'm pretty sure that some of my non-expert explanations will make more sense to you than the expert explanations do.  I don't have to remember back very long to remember when this all looked like gibberish to me. 
www.reverbnation.com/hardtwistmusicsongwriter

Verlon Gates  -  60 plus years old.

dasntn

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« Reply #13 on: September 24, 2018, 06:00:28 PM »
Hi Katie

lots of good advice here already, and hopefully I can help by relating it to a song that we worked on together - Don't Look For Revenge

https://soundcloud.com/dasntn/dont-look-for-revenge-final-version

I picked the chords from the ones you knew how to play at the time, but I didn't explain why I picked those specific chords.

The Song is in the key of D, and the chords in the verse are D  G   D  G  Em A  D, and in the chorus they are A   G  A  G Em  A    D

So why did I pick these Chords?  I know Boydie pointed you to his post on songwriting that you found perhaps too complicated, but that post is full of really valuable info. I think the key part for you at the moment is around this part - (quoting here from his post)

CHORD SCALES

The chords that "fit together" in the key of C MAJOR are:

MAJOR CHORD SCALE

Degree of scale          Roman Numeral          Chord

1                              I                                C

2                              ii                                Dm   

3                              iii                               Em       

4                              IV                              F

5                              V                               G

6                              vi                              Am

7                              vii                             Bdim

What this means is, if you are writing a song in the key of C, the only chords you really need to think about as potential ones to use are
C Dm Em F G Am  and Bdim

I wrote the music for Don't Look for Revenge, so using the D Scale and the Chord Pattern (from the above bit)

The D scale is D E F# G A Bm C# D
and so the chords I had available to chose from were

D  Em  F#m  G  A  Bm  C#dim  D 

So I played these chords, changed between chords, tried a few sequences, some sounded good, and I just picked the sequence I liked most and thought fitted the words.

So I would suggest at the moment, when you are writing a song, pick a key (C and D major keys are pretty good for the chords you know how to play, so I suggest picking one of those)  and try the chords  from the above list for C or D (forget the dim chords for now).


That way you only need to be aware of a little bit of the theory (the scale and the chords that fit in that scale) and you can get started writing.
Get a few songs written, and then you can add extra knowledge as and when you are ready.

Hope that helps!  If it doesn't just ignore it! (or let me know and I will try and explain better)

Dave



dasntn

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« Reply #14 on: September 24, 2018, 06:19:11 PM »
Oh, and just to be clear, you don't need to use all of the possible chords

In the key of D, you can  try just using D, G and  A.  If you think that isn't many chords and will be too simple, that sequence is used in just about every rock'n'roll song (Johnny Be Good, Roll Over Beethoven etc etc) !