Wednesday, August 22, 2012

How to select chords for a song or tune

As you know, scales are the basic form of music. Songs / tunes are set in a particular scale. Once you know the scale for a particular song or tune, then next comes the question of which chords to play. I am giving here, a very basic form of chords which play harmoniously in a particular scale.

For example let us see chord C Major

I       II      III      IV      V      VI      VII      VIII

C     D      E       F       G       A        B        c

C is the root key of this scale

I, IV, V    =>     are all major chords ( C, F, G)

II, III, VI  =>     are all minor chords (D, E, A)

VII           =>     diminished chord (B)

So the chords for C major scale are

I       II      III      VI      V      VI      VII      VIII
C     D      E        F       G      A        B         c

M    m      m       M      M      m      dim      M

M=Major chord; m=minor chord; dim=diminished chord

Go ahead and find out the chords for other scales. Please do not try to find out ready- made chord progressions from the net. This is not going to help you in learning fast. Fast way of learning is the other way round, the hard way. Once you formulate your own chords then you don’t need to mug it up. They will be stored in your subconscious mind and will come out naturally as you start playing. Please believe me. Try for one scale and then you will understand.

Now we know which chords to play for a particular note. But is it necessary to always play the given chord for a particular note??
Giving all the details is beyond the scope of this post. However I am trying to say what I mean.

It may not be possible or required to play the original chord corresponding to a particular note. As playing too many chords (at least in the beginning) for a particular tempo (speed) and tune may be difficult or may create breaks in continuity. So we can try some short cuts.

Now let us see the case of note A.

The chord is A minor in ‘C’ scale.

A minor = A,  C,  E

F Major = F,  A,  C   (two notes A & C are common)

So for A note, F major chord also sounds ok and even sometimes good depending on the tune.

For B note

B diminished = B, D, F

G Major = G, B, D  (two notes B & D are common)

So for note B, we can use G Major chord also.

Please try to find out similar situations for all other chords. If you have any suggestions to make please do write back to me at

God has given you the skills and liking for music and He will be damn happy to see you playing nicely. Because that’s what he wants you do with the given skills.

Be happy and make others happy.