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These sessions will give you the knowledge and tools to write your own song. You will focus on: The history of modern songwriting Chord Progressions Melody Rhythm Riff/Hook Structure Song Arrangement

Chris Paton

on 22 July 2014

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The Evolution of Song
1. Aboriginal/Ancient/
Indigenous Music
2. Chant
3. Troubadours
4. Field Hollers
5. Blues
7. Broadway
6. Jazz
A universal song of simplicity...or is it?
Main elements found in "IMAGINE"
TASK: Write down all the musical
elements that make up "IMAGINE"
Chord Progression
Musical Arrangement
SESSION 1 - Introduction
Songwriting Factories
Songwriting Groups
The Beatles and bands writing their own songs
Singer Songwriters
Different genres
Rap/Hip Hop
Electronic Music/Sampling
A chord progression is defined as when two or more chords are used in a fixed rhythmic harmonic rate of change. Chord changes can occur 'on the beat' according
to the time signature or 'off the beat' to provide interest and syncopation.
Major Diatonic Chords: The 4 part chords that appear naturally in the major key (shown in C Major).

Minor Diatonic Chords: The 4 part chords that appear in the minor key (shown in A Minor).
Note: G# appears throughout and is from the Harmonic Minor scale used to create the V7 chord in Major (see E7 below)

Major Chord Progression: Shown using 4 part chords, but can be, and most often are, used with the basic triads without the Major 7th scale degrees. The first set of chords show a typical "IV-V-I" progression. This progression is the most used progression in music and therefore best established the tonal center of the music. The second set of chords show this same progression, but with a jazzier flavor. In jazz music, typically the progression will move in a "II-V-I" pattern as opposed to "IV-V-I". If we look closer, we same at the base of both of these progressions we still have the same chord tones. The "IImin7" chord is identical to the "IV" chord with the 3rd added to the bottom of the chord. The top notes of the "II" chord are the same as the "IV" chord. Using the "II-V-I" progression makes use of the strong root movement of the 5th (see circle of 5ths).

Minor Chord Progression: Shown using 4 part chords as well, but this time in the Minor key of "C Minor". Again note the use of G# from the Harmonic Minor scale to create the Major V7 chords. The functionality is similar to the Major Progression shown above and establish the tonal center for the progression same as it does in Major. Again we show this as "IV-V-I" as well as the "II-V-I" progression used most often in Jazz.

"I-VI-IV-V" Progression: Shown using 4 part chords again. Sometimes referred to as "Ice Cream Changes". A very popular chord progression used in many 1950s and 1960s ballads.

"I-IV-II7-V" Progression: This progression appears frequently in styles such as country. Notice the "II" chord has been altered by using a Major 3rd. This technically would be the use of a "temporary key" of "G", making the "D7" or "II7" temporarily act as a "V7" chord temporarily in the key of "G". Once we land on the G7 though, we are once again back to the original key of "C" as "G7" functions as the "V7" of "C".
Certain chords sound "right" together, and are grouped together to form "progressions".
Chords that go together are said to form a "key".
Chord progressions are labeled by Roman numerals. Roman numerals are defined by the notes of the major scale.
Large roman numerals represent Major chords, small roman numerals represent minor chords.

The diatonic chords above share a common relationship because they are created from the notes of a single major scale.
If you take the notes of a major scale, for example, and combine those seven notes in all possible ways to create chords
(all possible combinations of those 7 notes), you get the chords which are "diatonic" to that major scale.
Take a look at the diatonic chords in the key of C:

The C major scale notes = C D E F G A B

Below are the notes contained in each one of the diatonic chords (I, ii, iii, IV, V7, and vi):

C major chord (I) = C E G
D minor chord (ii) = D F A
E minor chord (iii) = E G B
F major chord (IV) = F A C
G dominant 7th (V7) = G B D F
A minor chord (vi) = A C E
Chords that are said to be "borrowed" from another key.
These chords are used most often in rock.
Borrowed chords typically contain flats ("b") in their label.

bVII bIII bVI iv v
Bb Eb Ab Fm Gm
G Bb F Dm Em
Ab Db E Ebm Fm

I - vi - IV - V (Stand By Me, Every Breath You Take)

I - IV - vi - V (Holy Grail, More Than A Feeling)

I - V - vi - V (Land Down Under, Dammit)
I - IV - V - V. (La Bamba, Twist and Shout)

I - IV - V - IV. (Wild Thing, Louie Louie)
TASK: Now practice writing these chord progressions in two or three different keys.
Full transcript