Chord Progressions & composition etc ....

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by TheMusicMan, Mar 11, 2003.

  1. TheMusicMan

    TheMusicMan tMP Founder Staff Member

    Hi All

    I appeal to the composers/arrangers out there... your expertise is called for...

    Does anyone have some hints regarding Chord Progressions et al.. As some of you may know, the other 'love of my life' is my Korg Synthesiser. Now, although I am not really a keyboard player, I am making good progress with several arrangements/compositions I'm working on at the moment. These are "musically" simple with very few complex phrases within them. I am wondering though if anyone has any hints as to music theory - especially with regard to chords of all types and how they work together to produce interesting cadences and nuance's etc...

    Is this just 'ear', or are there rules that need not necessarily be followed to the letter, but that need to be understood in order to produce the musical effects and colours I hear in my mind but am unable to replicate on a keyboard.

    Your thoughts/ideas most appreciated.....

  2. Straightmute

    Straightmute Active Member

    This is going to be tricky without a keyboard...

    Firstly, write out the scale in the key you're using, then add third and fifth above each note to produce a 'scale' of seven different triads.

    Number them from 1 - 7 then discard 7 for the moment - unless you know what you're doing it can be difficult to handle at first. This gives you a 'repertoire' of chords which you can use whilst working in that key.

    Good chord progressions rarely come from adjacent chords, so 2 - 5 gives stronger progression than 2 - 3, for example.

    Descending patterns usually sound better than ascending ones.

    Sequences based on fourths or fifths are always strong and directional, eg 3 - 6 - 2 - 5 - 1

    Don't be afraid to repeat chords/sequences but try to change the harmony at barlines.

    This is only lesson 1 in a series of 374 (or more!) but it's always useful to remind ourselves of these basics. More than any other area of music, harmony is the one where you need to learn the rules and then develop strategies fr breaking them.

    Hope this is useful.

  3. BoozyBTrom

    BoozyBTrom Member

    Sorry being a trombone player you lost me at "KORG SYNTHESISER"
  4. TheMusicMan

    TheMusicMan tMP Founder Staff Member

    Hi Boozy...

    LOL :lol: on that one... This is what I have...


    anyone else out there into Synths et al as well as Brass... ?
  5. BoozyBTrom

    BoozyBTrom Member

    where does the mouthpiece go and how many positions are on the slide??
  6. HBB

    HBB Active Member

    I wish my casio'd float!! :(:(

    Neva Mind, suppose I'll have to stick to the stand!!!

    Nice question John, I wanted some help with that too.

    The only cool chord sequence I have is

    I VI IV V I ----- but how unorigninal is that!! :D:D:D:D
  7. Fishsta

    Fishsta Active Member

    Perfect Cadence: 5-1
    Imperfect Cadence: 1-5
    Plagal Cadence: 4-1
    Interrupted Cadence: 5-6(minor)

    I hope I got them right. It's been a long time.

    Incidentally, if anyone's interested, I have a few of my own bits of music I've made in XM format (excellent quality, very small filesize) which are lurking on my website and over at

    If you're into this synthesizer in a big way, John... is a great place to start for some good musical inspiration. :)
  8. picju96

    picju96 Member

    Ooooh sounds like A-level music, and aural in exams. Found out today I passed my grade 8 with 126, so no more scales ever again! yey!
  9. Boneman

    Boneman Member

    It must be something about being a trombone player . . . .But what is this thread about ???

    Korg Synthesiser
    Chord Progression
    (pictures of space craft)

    . . . . .is it Star Trek??
  10. Straightmute

    Straightmute Active Member

    Technically an Imperfect Cadence can be 'anything to 5' but is most typically 1, 2 or 4 to 5.

    Sorry to be a harmony anorak. Don't ask me about Integral Serialism.

  11. groovy

    groovy Active Member

    Well done mate! :D :D :D
  12. HBB

    HBB Active Member

    Well Done Picju!!! :lol: :lol: :lol:

    I found grade 6 Piano hard enough ---- and my teacher still wants me to do more :( ----- where did I hide the happy pills!!!!
  13. picju96

    picju96 Member

    my piano teacher wanted me to do grade 7 about 3 years ago so i promptly quit, i still play for fun though.
  14. James McFadyen

    James McFadyen New Member

    A few wee tips

    The Music Man,

    Basic Diatonic Harmony is built up of Primary and Secondardy Triads.
    Primary Triads are Chords 1,4 and 5
    (in Cmajor that would be C, F and G)
    Secondary Triads are Chords 2,3,6 and 7
    (in Cmajor that would be Dm, Em, Am, Bdim)

    These chords form the basis of Diatonic Harmony, of which the Primary Triads establish Key and the Secondary Triads are for harmonic colouration or replacing a Primary Triad with a Secondary Triad, for example replace F with Dm.

    Personally I use the Modal System which is the earliest form of music before Major and Minor came about. The modal system gives you greater possibilities for colour with sharp 9's, 11's, 13's, etc and can be used to stunning effect. I shant really go into it because it does take a great deal of explaining to explain it right. Try and find out about this from book, etc and that will explain it fully.

    Harmony needn't be complicated, sometimes subtley is more important but let harmonie have a melodic element to it bearing in mind 'Voice Leading' which is basically when you write a chord, where EVERY note in that chord goes (or doesnt go) A lot of people too easily jump around the keyboard to keep their chords in root position.

    CESH (Contrapuntal Elaboration of Static Harmony) means that when you go from one chord to another and they share 1 or more common notes (C major to A minor, for example) you would change the other notes but keep the common note (C and E in this example) playing ON THE SAME PART, the effect is much more subtle.

    Unless your writing pop or dance, try not to think to chordally, think of music as a movement of intertwing parts (not too many if you dont want it to sound fugue-like) Sometimes writing at the piano can determine you to write chords then a melody then add other parts, which works for some stuff but as any Composer worth his salt will tell you, is listen to what you hear in your head, then write it down and perhaps check it at the piano for mistakes. If you can't write music then that's slightly unfortunate

    There is so much to learn and Classical Training is the real way to go, however buy book like Harmony and Counterpoint and that will get you started on the road to composing. And, of course, experement!

    Keep doing what your doing and be creative, man!
  15. ilyash

    ilyash New Member

    Please take a look at the Musical Palette - Melody Composing Tool. This program is based on the theory of harmony and theory of composition. Program build main triads and seventh chord of the melody key. Program knows voice-leading rules, logic of functional motion. You can read basics of the harmony theory here

  16. Lyndon Price

    Lyndon Price Member

    Music man
    Try this awesome site. SOme excellent maps given in every key. The larger ones look a bit daunting, but if you follow the arrows the progressions are correct, with good sounding results. The 1st maps give a general formulaic sounding result, but the big ones are great.

  17. Lyndon Price

    Lyndon Price Member

  18. BrianT

    BrianT Member

    Chords for your Korg...

    I've been in this position exactly. I picked up chord books, but they dissected single chords, and many chords taken in isolation sound rather dissonant. All the dry theory on its own doesn't really help. What I needed was something that told me when I'd need to use a particular chord. I found the best place to learn this is using Fake Books or something similar, so you can play through lots of really satisfying standard progressions (they're not called Standards for nothing). After a while you learn that certain progressions crop up time after time; II-V-I and so on. And once you've got the sound of some of these progressions ingrained, you start to spot when someone does a chord substitution, where perhaps they replace the V chord with something else.

    The theory is vital of course, but I think it should come after you've familiarised yourself with the sounds of common progressions. Then you can deconstruct to see how certain progressions work, and what you like. Often it's the motion of the parts within successive chords that make it work. Also when you analyse a chord progression, you can often convert each chord to the next one in the progression by moving just a couple of the parts.

    After a while you start to have opinions about harmony, e.g. "I wouldn't have used that chord, I'd have done something else instead."

    The other benefit of playing lots of Standards is that you get the sounds of various chords ingrained, and it's much easier to spot chords in anything else you hear.