Are you new to playing the guitar? If so, you’re in for a treat: chord progressions are one of the most important elements of music. Even some of the most seasoned musicians still find this aspect of music theory tricky.
In this blog post, we’ll explore some basic chord progressions and provide some tips on how to get started. By the end, you’ll be ready to start jamming with your friends and you’ll be well on your way to creating your own musical compositions!!
The Basics of Chord Progressions
A chord progression is a series of chords that allow musicians to create melodies and harmonies. The reason the chord progression is important for musicians of all levels is because easy chord progressions can take beginners from strumming random chords to creating easy and memorable tunes. These simple combinations of chords can be played in a variety of ways to create different melodies and sounds.
Chord progressions are the foundation of all music, so learning how to create and use them is essential for any musician. If you’re a beginner guitarist, learning chord progressions is a great way to improve your skills and broaden your repertoire.
We’ll take a look at some basic chord progressions that are perfect for beginners. So if you’re ready to start learning about chord progressions, keep reading!
Let’s Take a Look at the Fundamentals
To understand chord progressions, it’s important to have a basic understanding of scales and chords.
The notes of a musical scale can serve as the basis for building chords and chord progressions. The diatonic scale has been around for centuries and is one of the most popular scales in music today to create countless variations. This scale includes both major and natural minor scale with progressing seven notes or tones.
A scale is made up of 7 notes. The eighth one is the same as the first, but it’s an octave higher or double the frequency.
Chords and Scale
Major Scale notes interval: whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half.
- “whole” stands for a whole tone moving whole step/2 frets
- “half” stands for a semitone moving half step or next fret
“A” Major scale is written A–B–C♯–D–E–F♯–G♯.
Scale Degree/Position: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 or I, ii, iii, IV, V, vii, V, viio
Solfege syllables: Do-re-mi-fa-sol-la-ti-do
Each scale degree has 3 notes forming a chord or triads of a chord with qualities written below.
I (major), II (minor), III (minor), IV (major), V (major), VI (minor), VII (diminished)
“A” Major chord family is written A–Bm–C♯m–D–E–F♯m–G♯ A–B–C♯–D–E–F♯–G♯o.
Thus, the diatonic scale has seven notes, each of which is the root of its own chord. In each family, there are three basic forms of chords: a major, a minor, and a diminished chord.
Understanding Chord Progressions
There are two things you need to understand about chord progressions:
- Chord progressions are made up of chords that relate to each other
- Chord progressions follow a specific order
Let’s take a closer look at each of these concepts.
Chords That Relate to Each Other
All chords are related to each other, but some are more closely related than others. The relationship between chords is what gives chord progressions their structure and movement.
To understand how chords relate to each other, we need to know about key signatures and scale degrees.
A key signature is a series of sharps or flats that indicate which notes will be sharp or flat for the rest of the song. Scale degrees are the specific notes that make up a key signature.
For example, the key of C major has no sharps or flats, so all of the notes in the key are natural (not sharp or flat). The scale degrees for the key of C major are: C -D -E -F -G -A -B.
Now that we know what key signatures and scale degrees are, we can start to understand how chords relate to each other. Chords are built on scale degrees, and the relationship between chords is based on which scale degrees they’re built on.
Some chords will have more than one scale degree in them (called extensions), but for the sake of simplicity, we’ll just focus on the root note. The root note is the first and lowest note in the chord, and it gives the chord its name.
For example, a C major chord is built on the scale degree of C, while an F major chord is built on the scale degree of F.
Now that we know how chords relate to each other, let’s take a look at how they follow a specific order.
Chord Progressions Follow a Specific Order
The order of chords in a chord progression is what gives the progression its movement and direction. Chord progressions can move in ascending or descending order, and they can move by thirds, fourths, or fifths.
The most common type of chord progression is the I-IV-V progression. This progression starts on the first scale degree (I), moves to the fourth scale degree (IV), and then to the fifth scale degree (V).
For example, in the key of C major, the I-IV-V progression would be C-F-G.
This chord progression is so common because it’s easy to remember and it sounds good!
Now that we know the basics of chord progressions, let’s take a look at some easy chord progressions that are perfect for beginners.
Common Chord Progressions in Popular Music
Each easy chord progression type has their own unique sound and music applications. Major easy chord progressions can be used for compositions with a happier or more upbeat tone while minor easy chord progressions can be used for compositions with a sadder or more mellow tone.
The process of creating easy chord progressions is easy. The most basic easy chord progression formula is I-IV-V or 1-4-5, the basic building blocks of other progressions.
- the first chord is the 1st (root) note of major scale (1st)
- the next chord is 4th note of major scale (4th)
- the last easy chord progression is 5th note of major scale (5th)
This progression is easy to remember and it sounds great, so it’s easy to see why it’s so popular. It’s also extremely versatile, as it can be played in any key and in a variety of different styles. It can be used in a variety of genres, including rock, pop, blues, and country.
I – IV – V in all major keys:
- C major: C-F-G
- C♯/D♭ major: D♭-G♭-A♭
- D major: D-G-A
- D♯/E♭ major: E♭-A♭-B♭
- E major: E-A-B
- F major: F-B♭-C
- F♯ major: F♯-A♯-C
- G major: G-C-D
- G♯/A♭ major: A♭-D♭-E♭
- A major: A-D-E
- B♭ major: B♭-E♭-F
- B major: B-E-F♯
From this easy chord progression, you can add another note. You can also explore other popular chord progression. Remember these patterns are the same for different keys. For the example below, we use the key of C.
- I–V–vi–IV : C–G–Am–F
- V–vi–IV–I : G–Am–F–C
- vi–IV–I–V : Am–F–C–G
- IV–I–V–vi : F–C–G–Am
- I–IV–V–IV : C–F–G–F
- I–vi–IV–V : C–Am–F–G
Tips for Practicing Chord Progressions
The easy chord progressions listed above are a great place to start, but you can experiment with different combinations of chords to find easy guitar songs that sound good to your ears.
- Remember to keep it simple at first! Using easy chord progressions will give you a lot more success as a beginning guitarist than trying jazz/blues chord progressions that are much more complex.
- Try easy guitar songs in different keys to expand your chord progressions list. Don’t get stuck playing easy guitar songs only in the key of C.
- Make sure to take each chord at a time and make sure you’re changing between them smoothly to avoid easy mistakes.
- Listen to easy songs by professional musicians and notice the chord progressions they use. Then, try playing easy songs that are similar to easy guitar songs you heard on the radio or your favorite easy song list.
How to Create Your Own Chord Progressions
Start by choosing the key your song will be in. Once you’ve chosen your key, pick out 5 chords within that key (for songs with 4/4 time). Start by determining the I, IV, and V chords for your song. You can use the general guidelines provided above or experiment to find different chord progressions within the chord family of a certain key.
If you want to go beyond just a beginning guitar player’s easy chord progression list , try choosing some other chords as well. Experiment with easy chord progressions until you find easy guitar songs that sound good to your ears!
Create Your Own Song
So, now you know something about chord progression. What can you do with this knowledge? Well for starters, make music!
If you’ve always wanted to try composing a song or writing lyrics that will resonate with an audience, there is no better time than the present. The more chords and progressions you become acquainted with, the easier it will be to create personalized songs that tap into people’s emotions in powerful ways.
Give yourself permission today by learning what makes up chord progression so that tomorrow may bring even greater success!