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Blues/rock chord changes lesson Back in the U.S.S.R.

Songwriting process

Blues/rock chord changes lesson Back in the U.S.S.R.

Blues/rock chord changes

Adapted from The Complete Singer-Songwriter (Backbeat Books). Click the cover for more info. Go ahead: grab an open-position E chord on your guitar and give it a few good, hard strums. Do the same on a D chord and then an A. Get a steady rhythm going and keep circling around, E–D–A. Stand and sling your...

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Simple chord substitutions

Adapted from The Complete Singer-Songwriter Let’s say you’re working on a song idea and playing some chords—you start on G, switch to C and back to G, go to D, and resolve to G. That chord progression sounds perfectly good but seems a little too familiar. You feel like you could be playing a thousand...

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Chord progressions in minor keys

Adapted from The Complete Singer-Songwriter Minor keys are often said to be brooding and sad, but not all minor key songs are as bleak as, say, “Death Don’t Have No Mercy.” They can also be soothing (George Gershwin’s “Summertime”), funky (the Commodores’ “Brick House”), or upbeat and rocking (Dire Straits’ “Sultans of Swing”). Chord progressions...

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Manzer guitar closeup

Share the story behind your song

Songwriters: I'm seeking submissions for Behind the Song, a new feature on the Complete Singer-Songwriter website where artists talk about the creation of one of their songs. And I’d love to hear from you. I’m especially interested in featuring songs/stories that illuminate an important aspect of the creative process and offer lessons other songwriters can apply to their...

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Understanding song form

Adapted from The Complete Singer-Songwriter (Backbeat Books). Click the cover for more info. Beneath all the nuances of melodies and lyrics, most songs are built from the same basic parts—some kind of sequence of verse, chorus, bridge, and so on. For writing a song, learning to play someone else’s song, or communicating with other musicians,...

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Chord progressions in major keys

Adapted from The Complete Singer-Songwriter Chord progressions are the engine of songwriting. The melodic or lyrical hook may be what lodges in people’s heads, and an insistent beat may dominate the mix, but the chord progression is what makes everything move. By itself, a chord is just a static thing—a few notes stacked together—but a group...

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John Doyle on writing songs vs. arranging traditional tunes

Writing, of course, has a very creative aspect, but there’s a creative aspect in arranging—I’d be a historian if I wanted just to mark it down. I wouldn’t see the point in doing [a 1="traditional" 2="tune" ] if it wasn’t creative in some way; I want to bring out my love of the song, to...

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Copyright 2019 Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers