How to Write Music

7. Create a C-F-G Progression


Old (2005-2010) Article Series

Lesson 7: Create a C-F-G Progression

This lesson lets you create your first little chord progression. Before you do this lesson, make sure you understand and have played some chord progressions (Lesson 4: Chord Progressions, Lesson 5: Playing Chord Progressions).

The chord progression below starts out as just a bunch of C chords; you get to change whichever chords you want to make it more interesting.

To change a chord in the chord progression:
  1. Click it to put the "focus box" on it.
  2. Click one of the "Change the boxed chord to:" buttons.

Click the Play button anytime to hear your progression.

Sound requires Google Chrome (see Enabling Sound).
| C C | C C | C C | C C |

Change the boxed chord to:

So, play with the chord progression above and see if you can find a progression (or several) that you like. Then, continue below ...


Now, hopefully you had fun and found some progressions you like. But if you found it hard to choose a progression, here are some tips:

No wrong answers. The C, F, and G chords work well together, and any progression using those 3 chords is going to sound OK. So, don't worry about picking "correct" chords! Sometimes, we choose a progression just for variety, so it doesn't sound just like our last 10 songs; but if you're just starting, then you don't even have to worry about that, because you don't have any "last 10 songs".

Chord functions. Even though any combination of these 3 chords sounds OK, it's still true that different combinations of these chords have different musical effects. The area of music theory called "functional harmony" is all about this; see Chord Functions: Tonic, Subdominant, Dominant.

Fit the melody. If you already have a melody, then only certain chords will sound good with that melody. This actually makes it easier to choose a chord progression, because you can ignore all the possible chords which don't sound good with your melody. In these lessons, I start with chords first, because that's the easiest way to start, but if you're interested in adding chords to a melody that you already have, then see Adding Chords to Melody.

Once you have created a short C-F-G chord progression, there are several ways you can go next:

by Conrad Albrecht 2015. Questions, comments, ideas? Tell me on Facebook!

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