Essential Chord Progressions - Free Chords and Articles

Gary Ewer

Gary Ewer

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Welcome to Essential Chord Progressions

For free chord progressions that are great for guitar, piano, organ, or any other chording instrument, scroll further down the page. But be sure to check out the following articles. They'll reveal the secrets of how chord progressions work.

NOTE: Free with your purchase of “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting" 6-eBook Bundle: "From Amateur to Ace: Writing Songs Like a Pro"

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Modes:

Which Bits of Music Theory Are Most Relevant for Songwriters?

guitarist with headphonesTo put it succinctly, music theory is what allows musicians to be literate. It makes it possible to listen to music and understand what's going on. This is important knowledge, because it allows composition to become a positive action, rather than a random hunting around for something that sounds good. The most obvious benefit of an understanding of music...

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Strong & Fragile Progressions:

Too Many Chords Can Clutter Up a Good Song

Red guitarBoring an audience with music is probably the worst thing that can happen to a singer-songwriter. It’s worse than outright hatred. At least with hatred you’ve been able to stir up some emotions. And experience shows that when a song is hated, there’s usually another group of listeners that love it. Boredom is a much worse reaction, and part of the reason is that bored listeners...

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Making Chord Progressions Better:

5 Ideas To Turn a Boring Chord Progression Into Something More Exciting

flaming guitarSongwriting formulas will get you in trouble. But they’re tempting to use because once you’ve experienced songwriting success, you want to duplicate that success. A songwriting formula, however, stunts creativity, and starts to make all your songs sound the same. The one area where I’ve always told songwriters that they shouldn’t worry too much about predictability is with chord progre...

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The World of Songwriting:

Good Songwriting: Branching Out From 3-Chord Songs

singersIf I did a blog post listing all the 3-chord songs that have been written in the past 5 decades, it would be a post many thousands of lines long. When we talk about 3-chord songs, we often mean these three: I-IV-V. And they account for thousands of songs. The further back you go, the more there are. It was during the 60s that songwriters developed their chord choices into something...

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Free chord progressions

 

STRONG and FRAGILE PROGRESSIONS (all given in C-major):

Simple progressions can be categorized as either being strong or fragile.

A strong progression is one that clearly points to one note as the key, or tonic, note. They can be used anywhere, and are great especially for chorus melodies, which usually rely on the strong indication of a key.


Strong Progressions (To see these progressions in fretboard/musical staff notation, click here.)

C Dm G C
C Dm7 G C
C Fmaj7 G7 C
C Am Dm G C
C Em Am Dm G7 C



A fragile progression is one in which a specific chord is not clearly indicated as being the only possible tonic chord. Such a progression, on its own, could point toward two or more chords as being possible tonics, and usually require a strong progression after it to make the clear determination.

Fragile progressions can be used anywhere, but work very well in verse melodies. Keep in mind that most multi-chord progressions are a mixture of strong and fragile elements.

 

Fragile Progressions (To see these progressions in fretboard/musical staff notation, click here.)

Dm7 Em7
Am G F G Am
Em G Am Em Dm F Am
C Gm7 Am7 BbMaj7

 





PROGRESSIONS THAT END ON A DIFFERENT CHORD (DECEPTIVE CADENCE):

Deceptive Cadences (To see these progressions in fretboard/musical staff notation, click here.)

C F Am G F
C Dm G Am
C Am Em G Ab

 

 



PROGRESSIONS THAT USE DIMINISHED CHORDS:
(What's a diminished chord?)

 

Diminished Chords (To see these progressions in fretboard/musical staff notation, click here.)

C F Fdim7 C
C Dm Bdim C
C C#dim Dm G C

 

 




PROGRESSIONS THAT USE INVERTED CHORDS:
(What's an inverted chord?)

 

Inverted Chords

C C/E F G C
C G/B F/A G C
C G/B Am F G G/B C
C G E/G# Am G/B C

 

 


 

PROGRESSIONS THAT USE SECONDARY DOMINANT CHORDS:

(What's a secondary dominant chord?)

 

Secondary Dominant Chords

C A Dm G C
C E A Dm G C
C F D G C
C D G C

 

PROGRESSIONS THAT USE MODAL MIXTURES:

(What's a modal mixture chord?)

 

Modal Mixture Chords

C F Fm C
C C/E Fm G C
C Eb F G C
C F Ddim G C

 

 

 

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