Have a destination to aim for in your progression
Often when starting out with writing your own music, the vast majority of what comes through you is direct imitation. This isn’t bad; in fact it's exactly how you need to learn practically. But breaking free of pure “taking” and starting to trust your own creative instincts can be daunting.
Having that first chord as a starting point is probably where you would place all of the weight of your creative brain. This seems like the obvious thing to do, but to really bring your chord progressions to life, you also need to consider where you are going to just as much if not more than where you start.
The term chord progression isn’t just incidental; the word progression is in there for a reason, so put it to work. Make your song move. Make the melody go places. Take the listener on a journey and tell a story not just with your words and lyrics.
In the same way an author will start from the ending when writing a crime novel or detective story, having a clear destination to aim for makes every nuanced move that much more intentional and meaningful.
I can vouch for those who are thinking songs with one or two chords don’t worry about this. However, many of those songs are still applying the use of different inversions of those one or two chords to create movement and keeping the song from sounding stale or feeling too repetitive.
Be very conscious of the notes that are in the chord you are progressing towards in your passage. Use this to your advantage, and build your progression to put you in a position where you can truly approach this chord and make it feel like it's the destination.
Using the proper chord or inversion can create a half step movement towards the notes in your destination chord. The root note of the chord might be your fall back, but if you find you rely on this too often, try aiming for the 3rd or 7th in your destination chord. These are some of the juicy notes that really give the chord its flavour.
Another idea is to try a chord or inversion that has one or more shared notes with the chord you are aiming for in your progression. It is a great effect on the overall sound, so emphasizing these notes will be appreciated by the listener
If you're a musician or songwriter who wants to create interesting and imaginative new music in minutes without running out of new song ideas then check out more articles at our blog: https://www.mfile.ca/music-articles
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Songwriting - Chord Progressions: Have a destination to aim for in your progression
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