How to Write Music

This is our old "How to Write Music" course. It has been replaced by our new Pop Music Theory course.

5. Playing Chord Progressions


Lesson 5: Playing Chord Progressions

(If you don't know what a chord progression is, start with Lesson 4: Chord Progressions.)

In order to create chord progressions, you'll probably need to be able to play chord progressions, because:

  • Playing other people's chord progressions is the main place people get ideas for their own chord progressions; and
  • You'll need to play your own chord progressions while you're making them up. Thinking up very short chord sequences (perhaps 2 or 3 chords) in rhythms, and then immediately (actually pretty much at the same time) playing them to hear how they sound, over and over again, is the main way most people start creating their own chord progressions.

So, let's play a chord progression. Here's a really well-known one:


How I
what you

To play this example you need just three chords: C, F, and G. Click the buttons below to play these 3 chords (hold a button down to sustain the chord):

Sound requires Google Chrome (see Enabling Sound).

Now, play the chord buttons in the order they appear in the "Twinkle" example:
| C C | F C | F C | G C |

Finally, you should practice playing the chords in time (i.e., in rhythm). Each chord in the "Twinkle" example should last for two beats (i.e., two "counts"), so if you know how to do that, you're good. Or, you can play the chords while you sing (or say, or whisper) the words. You should play each chord while you're singing the word underneath it in the "Twinkle" example above. I'll wait...

... OK, so hopefully now you've been able to play the "Twinkle" chords in time. Next, in Lesson 6: More C-F-G Songs, you'll play some more songs using these same 3 chords, to see the variety of songs just these 3 chords can create.

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

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