Chord progressions have such great power to them – that can not only determine the feel of the song, but also “suggest” the 1000's of different melody ideas that you can sing your lyrics on top of them.
So let's dive today into some ideas for how to use them to start writing some great new songs, and spark new inspirations within you. (because there's only so much you can do if you find yourself often coming back to the same progressions)
HOW you are playing these progressions
Of course, just a progression on its own has a million different directions in which you can take it.
It's a playground, and you can choose what you want to do with each progression. Whether you're playing it on the guitar or on a piano/keyboard, you have endless options:
- The rhythm with which you are playing it.
- The tempo – fast and energetic? Slow and sad, “ballad style”?
- Are you strumming it or arpeggiating it? (picking the notes individually)
- Where on the neck are you playing the progression? For example, a G-D-Em-C sounds very different when you play it without a capo, as opposed to playing it with barre chords / capo around the 10th fret.
- Are you using a pick for a sharper sound (and which type of pick) or your fingers for a softer sound?
- You get the point – and you can build countless combinations between all of those variations.
How to actually develop one of these progressions into a song?
Everyone has his own process for songwriting. Some start with the chords, some start with the melody, some start with the rhythm, and some are more “free” in their approach and use different methods at different times.
I do find, however, that eventually with most methods you come back to the “main one” – which is working with a certain chord progression and developing it. Because for example, even if you started from a title, a rhythm, or a melody, eventually you have to develop a chord progression and add lyrics on top of it.
A general process that you can use can go something along these lines:
Step 1: start playing around with different progressions (and with how you play them) until you find something that “clicks” for you.
Step 2: “clicks” means that after playing a certain progression in different ways and methods (from the ones described above – trying different rhythms, tempos, picking patterns, etc)… you have developed the progression into a “vibe”. Into something that feels exciting to you and that you start “hearing” a song on top of it. It inspires you.
Step 3: Without judging yourself, start singing some melodies on top of the progression. Whatever comes to you. The progression already “hints” at a lot of different melodies that would sound good with it, and you just need to really listen to it and sing whatever comes to your mind.
Step 4: Try taking those vague (or solid) melody ideas – and “converting” them into some lyrics that are sung with those melodies. DO NOT judge yourself, the initial lyrics ideas might seem very silly / pointless in the beginning, but we just want something to start from.
Step 5: Start polishing things up. Make your lyrics and melodies clearer and more interesting.
This is pretty much the process in a simplified manner!
You can learn a lot more about this process in the Songwriting Inspirations course (more about it at the bottom of the post)
Anyways, with that in mind, let's jump into some different types of chord progressions that you can use for jammin' or for starting to write new songs.
71 Fun Progressions of Chords That Go Well Together
* Each bar is separated with a “|” sign – that means that in “standard” 4:4 time signature, each chord lasts for a count of 1, 2, 3, 4.
Major chord progressions
(The specific progression, followed by the universal Roman numerals version)
Key of C major
C | G | Am | F I -V – vi – IV
C | Em | Am | F I – iii – vi – IV
C | F | G | F I – IV – V – IV
C | F/C | G/C | C I – IV/I – V/I – I
C | C/B | Am | Am/G | F | G | C | C I – I/VII – vi – vi/V – IV – V – I – I
C | Bdim7 E7 | Am | F G I – vii° III7 – vi – IV – V
C | C7/Bb | F/A | Fm/Ab I – I7/b7 – IV/VI – iv
C | Dm | Em | F | C I – ii – iii – IV – I
Key of G major
G | D | Em | C I – V – vi – IV
G | Em | Am | D I – vi – ii – V
G | Am | Bm | C I – ii – iii – IV
G | B | C | D I – III – IV – V
G | C/G | D/G | G I – IV/I – V/I – I
G | F#dim B7 | Em | C D I – vii° III7 – vi – IV – V
G | G7/F | C/E | Cm I – I7/b7 – IV/VI – iv
Key of D major
D | G | A | F#m I – IV – V – iii
D | F#m | Bm | G I – iii – vi – IV
D | G | D | G I – IV – I – IV
D | Bm | G | G I – vi – IV – IV
D | Em | F#m | G | D I – ii – iii – IV – I
Key of E major
E | G# | C#m | A I – III – vi – IV
E | C#m | F#m | B I – vi – ii – V
E | B | F# | A I – V – II – IV
E | B | E | B I – V – I – V
E | A/E | B/E | E I – IV/I – V/I – I
E | D#dim G#7 | C#m | A B I – vii° III7 – vi – IV – V
E | E7/D | A/C# | Am I – I7/b7 – IV/VI – iv
E | F#m | G#m | A | E I – ii – iii – IV – I
Key of A major
A | Bm | F#m | E I – ii – vi – V
A | D | C# | F#m I – IV – III – vi
A | E | C#m | D I – V – iii – IV
A | F#m | A | F#m I – vi – I – vi
A | Bm | C#m | D | A I – ii – iii – IV – I
Key of F major
F | C | Dm | Bb I – V – vi – IV
F | C | Gm | Bb I – V – ii – IV
F | Am | Dm | Bb I – iii – vi – IV
F | Gm | F | C I – ii – I – V
F | Gm | Am | Bb | F I – ii – iii – IV – I
Minor Chord Progressions
Key of A minor
Am | C | Dm | E i – III – iv – V
Am | F | C | G i – VI – III – VII
Am | Am | F | E i – i – VI – V
Am | Dm | C | E i – iv – III – V
Am | Bdim | E | Am i – ii(dim) – V – i
Key of D minor
Am | G | D | D i – VII – IV – IV
Dm | F | Bb | C i – III – VI – VII
Dm | C | Gm | Bb i – VII – iv – VI
Dm | Bb | Am | C i – VI – v – III
Dm | C | Dm | C i – VII – I – VII
Dm | F | Bb | Gm i – III – VI – iv
Dm | C | G | G i – VII – IV – IV
Key of E minor
Em | C | G | D i – VI – III – VII
Em | G | Em | G i – III – i – III
Em | Am | G | C i – iv – III – VI
Em | D | C | C i – VII – VI – VI
Em | Am | D | C i – iv – VII – VI
Em | D | G | G i – VII – IV – IV
Key of B minor
Bm | D | A | G i – III – VII – VI
Bm | F#m | G | A i – v – VI – VII
Bm | G | Bm | G i – VI – i – VI
Bm | D | F#m | E i – III – v – IV
Bm | Em | G | A i – iv – VI – VII
Key of C# minor
C#m | A | E | B i – VI – III – VII
C#m | E | F#m | A i – III – iv – VI
C#m | G#m | A | F#m i – v – VI – iv
C#m | A | C#m | A i – VI – i – VI
C#m | E | B | E i – III – VII – III
C#m | B | F# | F# i – VII – IV – IV
Key of F# minor
F#m | C#m | A | B i – v – III – IV
F#m | D | A | E i – VI – III – VII
F#m | E | A | Bm i – VII – III – iv
F#m | B | A | E i – IV – III – VII
F#m | E | B | B i – VII – IV – IV
Transposing the chord progressions to different keys
Also, remember that each of these chord progressions can be transposed to a different key using a capo, as this table shows:
|No capo||Capo 1||Capo 2||Capo 3||Capo 4||Capo 5||Capo 6|
- The chord progressions often determine the mood of the music piece that you are creating, along with the way in which you're playing that chord progression. (continued in the next point)
- Remember that each of these chord progressions can be played in countless different ways. So experiment with different rhythms, tempos, picking / vs. strumming, using a capo vs. no capo, etc.
- Each one of these progressions can also be played in any other key. The easiest way to transpose it would be by using a capo, as the table above shows.
- Bookmark this page so you can come back to it whenever you're in need of some progressions ideas. It's easy to pick one of these and start going at it.
- A typical process of developing such a progression into a song would be: Step 1 – start playing different progressions in different ways. Step 2 – while playing them in different ways, try to develop the progression into a “vibe”, into something that gives you a feeling. Step 3 – let yourself loose and improvise some melodies by singing whatever ideas that come to you. Step 4 – try “converting” some of the vague melodies into lyrics. They can be vague now – just go with whatever comes to you at this stage. Step 5 – polish these vague ideas into solid ones.
- Again – do not judge yourself throughout the process – just sing whatever comes to you, and later filter the good stuff.
If you want to kickstart your journeys, check out the Songwriting Inspirations Course
If you want to dive deep into the art of songwriting – with practical knowledge that can help you start writing songs already today – in early 2022 I released a mega-course called the Songwriting Inspirations course. In it, I've condensed the best knowledge that I have learned about songwriting in 10 years of doing it – into concise chapters that you can take over the next few weeks.
- Write from the heart, create songs that touch people and let them feel something deep inside.
- The only songwriting course that doesn't focus just on the technicalities & craft, but also largely on the inspirational-spiritual side of songwriting – the “engine” of everything.
The course would give you a reliable workflow that you can follow, and demystify the fleeting topic of inspiration and of how you can spark it up.
It focuses both on the technical side (with a very deep dive into topics such as how to write evocative lyrics, catchy melodies, great chord progressions and hooks…) but also on the inspirational – spiritual side – which I believe is “the engine” of everything.
I hope this resource has been helpful to you!
Please let us know your thoughts in the comments and also which progression was your favorite. (from this resource above, or from any other ideas you've already had)