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live2tivo
11-02-2009, 01:58 PM
Okay, so I'll admit, the most common collection of chords has already edged its way into my songwriting, and I've only been writing songs since Friday. My first song was solely Am, F, C, G, but I managed to mix it up by including Cm, Dm, and C7 in my next song.

However, in the one that is currently threatening to devour my soul, I am going INSANE trying to figure out the chorus.

Here are the lyrics:
Because speech is a peach
But peaches have pits
And I love to debate
But I mostly just sit
In the cafeteria
With my teammates
While I wait for my rounds
And to see if I break
Speech is a peach with a pit

As you can tell, it's a long chorus, so simply going back and forth between Am and F, which is how I've worked out the tune of every other line, gets really repetitive. I tried throwing a D in there for the every second line, but it throws the song too high. G sounds okay in there, but I'm having a hard time working out the tune with a G in there. I don't want to use a C, because that's how I end the last line of the chorus.

If any of this makes any sense to you, do you have suggestions as to what chords fit in nicely into a C, Am, F, G progression?

Ukulele JJ
11-02-2009, 03:12 PM
If you are playing a C Am F G progression, then you are almost certainly in the key of C.

Here are all the basic chords that are diatonic to the key of C (meaning, they're made up solely of notes that are found in the C major scale):

C
Dm
Em
F
G
Am
Bdim

All those chords are triads. They have only three different notes in them. If you wanted to get a bit jazzier, you can use chords with four different notes. For example:

Cmaj7 or C6
Dm7
Em7
Fmaj7 or F6
G7
Am7
Bm7(b5)

Again, those chords are all diatonic. Every note used is within the key.

The next step in fanciness would be using chords that aren't diatonic. They borrow notes from a different, "temporary" key. For various reasons, these tend to sound best when they lead to a chord that's a fifth lower, or a half-step lower.

Here are some examples of moving from a non-diatonic chord down a fifth:

A or A7 moving to some form of D chord
D (major) or D7 moving down to G or G7
C7 moving to an F, Fmaj7, or F6

And moving down a half-step (minor second):

Db7 or Dbmaj7 moving down to C, Cmaj7 or C6
Ab7 moving down to G7 or G


Another option is to move wholesale into an entirely new key for the chorus, bridge, etc., but that's a story for another time... :D


JJ

live2tivo
11-02-2009, 03:56 PM
JJ-
Thank you so much. I've been fiddling around with the chords you mentioned and they fit in so nicely and add that extra OOMPH that I've been looking for. Luckily/unfortunately, I finally figured out a way to work my chorus with a G, but I'll be writing a good number of songs in the next month (the main character of my NaNoWriMo plays the uke, and I can't seem to hold off on putting music to her lyrics until December), and this is a great resource to have on hand.

-Tally

dktoller
11-02-2009, 04:15 PM
That's a nugget worth printing out and filing somewhere. Not ready to write my own songs yet, but it helps to explain so many of the chord progressions.

I don't think Bdim is a triad, but its definitely diatonic (wrt C) and seems the jazziest of the bunch.

dannyman
11-10-2009, 11:37 AM
JJ put it in the most succinct manner, but i just wanna make it simple.
in the classic pattern, try switching the order, or throwing in a seventh chord.
(E7,D7,G7,A7 for example)

happy songwriting!
:)

Chrisuzwhite
11-13-2009, 08:48 PM
That's a nugget worth printing out and filing somewhere. Not ready to write my own songs yet, but it helps to explain so many of the chord progressions.

I don't think Bdim is a triad, but its definitely diatonic (wrt C) and seems the jazziest of the bunch.

Well technically it has 3 notes, so it is a triad. Unless we're getting into 7th chords here!

The Pinneapple Pirate
11-20-2009, 12:23 PM
well one thing that helps me out a bit on the piano is changing key a bit
not permanently or anything, but sometimes you can here different chord progressions in one key than you can in another

then you can just kinda transpose it back to C and see what chords you've got