How to find the chords of a song-in five simple steps

How to find the chords of a song- in five simple steps

To find the chords of a song is as simple as cooking your two-minute noodle. You just need to be a very good listener. A beginner’s or intermediate’s level of knowledge of scales and chords is enough for you to identify the chords used in a song. I am writing this blog considering you to understand at least the basics of uses of scale and chords in music.

Things we will cover here:

  • Become a very good listener
  • Identify the notes and hence find the key of the song
  • Find the popular chord progressions on a given key
  • Check with some random chords and find out the best progression that fits in
  • Use the alternative Humming Method

Become a very good listener

How to find the chords of a song
Image by Omar Medina Films from Pixabay

A good listener is always a good learner. Listen to any of your favorite numbers or the piece of music that you want to find the chords for. Just do it repeatedly. You will realize, that song in an auto-play mode somewhere back in your mind. In a short span of time your brain learns the song very well.

Learning the song will ease your work as you will not have to play your boxes every time just for a check. Listening to the song carefully will give you the idea of the melodic progression of the song and you will certainly learn how the song sounds throughout its length. A song consists of several variations with ups and downs that affect the use of chords in the song. You may find, same lyrics used at different positions of a song may have different chords playing. Keep this in mind that you must not get confused with, that the same lyrics always bear the same chords.   

Identify the notes and hence find the key of the song

how to find the chords of a song
Image by NeiFo from Pixabay

To find out the chords used in a song you must learn the notes used in the song. Now, try to play a part of the melody of the song in your favorite instrument like a guitar, a keyboard, or a ukulele and try to find out the notes that match the best with the original tune. Once you know the notes, just try to identify which scale you are playing into as these notes form a certain musical scale. Identifying the scale gives you the first chord.

In most of the songs the key of the song is usually the first chord.

Bravo! You have got your first chord.

Find the popular chord progressions on a given key

How to find the chords of a song
Image by Jan Kaláb from Pixabay

Most of the songs follow popular chord progressions that are easy to learn. Many popular songs use very common chord progressions. A very common chord progression is (I-V-iv-VI) i.e. First- Fifth- Sixth Minor- Fourth chords played in a sequence. This progression is widely used in different genres of songs. You just need to find out the progression hidden in the song.

For example; let us consider that you found the melody of the song being played on your instrument consisting of the notes of C Major Scale. As an example, the chords in the C Major Scale are C, Dm, Em, F, G, Am, Bdim.

Now you know, that the first chord for your song will definitely be C Major (**in most of the cases, there are exceptions too).

The most popular progression of C major is C G Am F i.e. the First, Fifth, Fourth minor & Sixth chord of the same key. Make a note of the chords in the progression. Try playing the chords singing along the song and see if these chords fit your song. 

And the best part is, you can generate the chord progressions for any key using various free auto chord generators available on the internet.

Click here for an online auto-chord generator.

Check with some random chords and find out the best progression that fits in

Image by sheriyates from Pixabay

Are you still not able to play it correctly? Don’t Worry. There’s another way. Usually, the main chord progression of a key gets fit into many songs, if not; you can try with the alternative chord progressions for the same key using the other chords of the key. Let me tell you; there plenty of auto chord generators that you can use to find out different chord progressions on a key.

Click here to learn how to play chords.

Use the alternative Humming Method

Image by alisaapps from Pixabay

If you still find it difficult to figure out the chords then use this alternative method to identify them. Hum the song and play the chords. Yes! Hum. You can use this technique alternatively;

Humming is the best way to check if the chord played is matching exactly with the song. You just need to hum the part of song you want to play a chord for, with the beat of the song. Now play the different chords of the selected key of the song one-by-one to check which chord matches the best with the part of the song. This way you can find out the approximate solution for chords. 

Remember, there’s just one problem, this last technique is just a Hit-and-Trail method and to achieve accuracy by this method is a bit difficult.


  1. Beat: rhythmic unit in music that divides the song into equal time intervals
  2. Chord: a combination of three or more notes played together
  3. Chord Progression: a succession of chords played on the key of a song  
  4. Key: a key is the first note of a musical scale be it major, minor or other
  5. Major Chord: combination of first, major third & fifth notes
  6. Minor Chord: combination of first, minor third & fifth notes
  7. Note: a note is a specific sound in music
  8. Scale: a scale is a group of notes that make up a song