Re: Melody, chords and progressions.
- From: Engelkott <nomail@xxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Wed, 25 Nov 2009 18:12:07 +0100
On Wed, 25 Nov 2009 08:32:38 +0000, Richard Heathfield
In <7aopg5doci69cu9jhcqpkpttnrcue79gd2@xxxxxxx>, Engelkott wrote:
Thanks for the replies, I think it has cleared thing up a little for
me. I was just getting very confused because I keep reading about
how you should make up chord progressions when writing a song but
did not know why.
It's not so much that you *must* make them up - if a single vocalist
sings a capella, there are no chords, so where is the chord
So, are you saying that single note instruments do not need a chord
progression? Like a song comprising of only a trumpet? This is a
genuine question not a sarcastic one.
But when you have harmonies, you have chords. And unless the song has
only one chord, you have a chord progression. (I know of only two
songs with just one chord - "Born in the USA" by Bruce Springsteen,
which just uses Bsus4, I think, and a song I wrote myself which was
designed to be easy for amazingly inexperienced guitarists - it uses
just Em. (The Springsteen song is actually more complex than that in
the keyboard, so my claim is an over-simplification. But in the song
I wrote myself, there really is just one single chord.)
For example, when the early synth pioneers (I hate that term) such
as Yazoo and Depeche Mode (both Vince Clarke) or The Human League
were writing their early songs I doubt chord progressions were in
their mind yet the sheet music features them.
I suspect that chord progressions were very much at the forefront of
their minds. Many people write songs by banging out chords on a
guitar or keyboard while they sort of play around with melodies -
often, the chords feed the melody (i.e. give you melodic ideas), and
the melody also feeds the chords (i.e. melodic ideas guide you as to
an appropriate chord progression that fits those ideas) - it's an
example of what Douglas Hofstadter calls a "strange loop" - two (or
more) concepts feeding into *each other*. Programmers call it mutual
Back in those days the synths were monophonic and had a single timbre
like the Sequential Circuits Pro One so I doubt they were playing
chords and they were anti guitar.
This was why I
wondered if the melodic line had to only contain the notes which
make up the chord from the progression for that section.
So, for example, The Sound Of The Crowed by The Human League
contains the following.
Chord: Bm F# m/D Bm F# m/A
Notes played. BBBBDB CCAF BBBBDB C
I don't know the song. If those Cs and Fs are really Cs and Fs as
opposed to C#s and F#s, then it must sound very strange indeed! I'm
guessing that the ASCII art is lined up wrong, and you mean for CCAF
to be under the F#m/D chord. Well, the only note out of C, A, and F
that's in an F#m/D chord is the A - the other two will form discords
(which /can/ work, but they don't look like they'd work here, which
is why I'm guessing that you really meant C# and F#, which *are* in
Let's take a counter-example instead. For the sake of familiarity to
(hopefully) all readers, I'll choose a well-known hymn: "When I
survey the wondrous cross". If this is played in D major, the first
note is D, which is on the third beat of the (incomplete) opening
bar, and then the first two notes of the first complete bar are F#
and G. The chord is D major, which is D, F#, A. Clearly the G isn't
in that chord. You /could/ play a G major chord instead, but people
generally don't. They stay on D, with the G passing note forming a
brief and not unpleasant discord against the D major background.
In the above example, would the chord progression be worked out
after to fit the song and if so what if it meant the chord
progression is 'not correct'?
The melody and progression were probably developed in parallel.
Can anyone recommend a good but fairly simple book which can explain
the purposes of chord progression to the song writer and the rules
because as far as I can see they do not really serve a purpose exce
pt to confuse me! :-)
I can't recommend a book, I'm afraid. But look at it this way - if you
don't want chord progressions, your only alternative is a melody with
no chords! If you want to do that, that's fine. But as soon as you
introduce a harmony, you /are/ introducing a chord progression - they
are, in a way, the same thing.
Thanks for the advice, I was and still are confused by this whole
subject. Just the fact songs which I know do not have chords have a
chord progression when buying the sheet music. Pick a Kraftwerk song
or any other synth song pre 1983 where they played only one note at a
time and it is the same thing.
- Re: Melody, chords and progressions.
- From: Richard Heathfield
- Re: Melody, chords and progressions.
- Prev by Date: Re: Melody, chords and progressions.
- Next by Date: Re: Melody, chords and progressions.
- Previous by thread: Re: Melody, chords and progressions.
- Next by thread: Re: Melody, chords and progressions.