Want to get better at writing music on guitar? Learn these 10 beautiful chord progressions. They’re simple, effective, and will help you to start creating you’re own great-sounding music…
If you’re new to guitar or songwriting in general, the idea of writing chord progressions can seem daunting. But it really needn’t be – not if you know some quick, simple chord progressions. Once you learn these, it’ll really open your eyes to the simplicity of some of the most iconic songs of all time.
Once you learn a few classic chord progressions, get familiar with where they are on the neck, the notes they contain and switching between them, you can quickly start making your own songs. And if that sounds too simple, too good to be true, I have news for you: writing songs is actually really simple – most classic songs are basically three or four chords.
In fact, learning some classic chord progressions, committing them to memory, and understanding how they work, is one of the fastest ways to not only improve your playing and sound ten times better, but it will also help you to better understand how songs – million-selling hit songs – are actually put together. And you don’t even need to stick to metal or rock bands; there are plenty of amazing chord progressions you can use from film scores.
For instance, Time by Hans Zimmer goes like this: Am, Em, G, D. That’s literally it for the main bit. And that is super simple to play on guitar, either with open chords or with power chords. With that progression in mind, you also now know what pentatonic scales will work over it too. With just four chords, you can and will be able to build out an entire song – even a longer, drawn-out proggier number.
The key is to have a foundation to build on, the chord progression. Once you have this, the sky’s the limit – you can figure out what key you’re in, add in more notes, expand out sections for solos and lead parts, and move things around to make the song’s parts more dynamic. All you need to begin is a series of chords, once you have these you’re good to go with your composition.
And the best way to get started with chord progressions? Learn from the best, get some classic progressions logged in your muscle memory, get a feel for them, and then start adding your own spin on them. Do this and you’ll be pumping out songs like never before.
For me, this is one of the simplest and most useful things a relatively new guitarist can do – it’ll improve not only your overall playing, but also your knowledge of the fretboard, how things flow, and it will give you a better understanding of working in musical keys.
10 Beautiful Chord Progressions For Guitar
- D, A, C, and G
- D, C, and G
- C, Am, F, G
- C, Dm, Em, F, G, Am
- Am, F, C, G
- C, Am, F, G
- Dm, G, C, Am
- Em, C, Am, Bm
- Em, A, C, D, Em
- Em, D, C, G, D/F#
If you sit down and learn all of the chord progressions, you’ll not only get better at switching between chords but you’ll start to “feel” patterns and flows in how things fit together. You can use open chords or power chords, or even individual notes – it really does matter. Many songs start life as a series of open chord progressions and are then transposed into power chords or individual note runs for lead parts.
The key thing here is that you’ll get a deeper understanding of the relationship between notes, what the changes sound like, and why certain notes – like D, C, and G – sound great together. And the best part about learning all of these progressions, or cherry-picking a few to focus on, is that you don’t need to learn any theory – things like keys or modes. You can just work with the chords you have, expand them, move them around the neck and you’ll have more than enough to work with.
Famous Two Chord Songs
Most new guitarists think that ALL songs need complex compositions. But this really isn’t the case. In fact, some of the best songs ever committed to tape are based around just two chords. And that’s literally it – two chords! All guitarists, regardless of how long they’ve been playing, can handle two chords. And this means that providing your strumming is on point, there’s no reason why you cannot start making your own music right away.
Don’t believe me? Here’s a list of some extremely well-known songs that are based around just two chords:
- Born In The USA by Bruce Springsteen (B – E)
- Lively Up Yourself by Bob Marley (D – G)
- Achy Breaky Heart by Billy Ray Cyrus (C – G)
- Jane Says by Jane’s Addiction (A – G)
- Something In The Way by Nirvana (D – F#m)
- Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke (D – G)
And if two chords are good enough for The Boss, it’s almost certainly good enough for you too, so don’t go thinking you need to be able to play like Steve Vai or Tosin Abasi before you can start working on your own, original compositions. The world needs more stripped-down, solid rock music. Maybe you can help fill the current void?
RichardRichard has been playing guitar for over a decade and is a huge fan of metal, doom, sludge, and rock music in general – though mostly metal. Having played in bands and worked in studios since the early 2000s, Richard is a massive music production geek, a fan of minimalist recording techniques, and he really likes old-school guitars.
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