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Writing Songs Around a Chord Progression
Writing Better Songs
To begin writing songs based on chord progressions, we first need to understand that each key has a series of chords that "belong" to it (referred to as a key's "diatonic chords"). What follows is an explanation of how to find out which chords belong to which key.

Diatonic Chords in a Major Key

(Don't know how to play diminished chords? Here are some common diminished chord shapes.)

The above is an example of the chords in the key of C major. We arrived at these chords by beginning with a C major scale, and using the notes from that scale to create a series of chords that belong in the key of C major. If this flies way over your head, don't get stressed. It is NOT neccessary to fully understand the above in order to write a great song.

Here is what you should try to bring away from the above:

  • in every major key, there are seven different chords. The order of these chords are: major, minor, minor, major, major, minor, and diminished. The order is the same for whichever major key you are in.
  • the space between each of these chords is as follows: between chords 1&2: tone, 2&3: tone, 3&4: semitone, 4&5: tone, 5&6: tone, 6&7: tone, 7&1: semitone (now we're back to where we started).
  • So, you'll need to memorize this: tone tone semitone tone tone tone semitone, and major minor minor major major minor diminished.

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