How to choose the best chord progression for your song

How to choose the best chord progression for your song

Songwriting needs a good understanding of music. You create something that should be liked by others is a difficult job. But trust me it is not impossible at all. You just need to go through the entire post to find out the tricks that you can use to make your songs effective. As you are trying your luck in songwriting, I will presume you to be playing at least one musical instrument, be it guitar or piano. I, therefore expect you to have a prior understanding of chords and chord progression to be able to understand the steps in this article. Let us read ahead to discover how to choose the best chord progression for your song.

Note: This post is not about how to find the chord progression of a song. And, if that is what you are looking for, then you can click here.

Five simple steps to choose the best chord progression for your song

  • Know the genre of your song
  • Create the melody of the song first
  • Find the chord progression that best fits the tune
  • Experimenting with other progressions
  • Using a popular progression

Know the genre of you song

You might have noticed how different genre of music have different styles of instrumentation that make it sound very distinct.

Do you know why?

Mostly how a song sounds depend on how it has been instrumentally arranged and how different chords of the song change during that song. The succession of the chords create the foundation for the melody of the song. Now knowing the genre of the song will make it easy for you to choose the best progression. As you know that different genre of music has its own popular progressions which are widely used in contemporary music.

For example; a very popular Jazz progressions is I-vi7-ii7-V7.

Image representing Jazz Music
Image by Ahkeem Hopkins from Pixabay

Now, look at this progression, C__Am7__Dm7__G7. You will notice here that a lot of 7ths are in use in this progression. Actually, in Jazz 7th chord is very common (be it major or minor) unlike other genres of music.

The use of 7th chords are not as common in popular pop music. Please don’t get me wrong here. No, it is not absent in Pop music but it is not as common as in Jazz.

In the same way, I–V–vi–IV (C__G__Am__F) is a very popular progression in pop and other similar genres of music.

You, therefore, should know the exact genre of your song to write the best kind of progression for it. My point is, when you know the genre of your song, you naturally know which chords you are going to use in the song and which popular chord progression you may try to use.

You can click here for an automatic chord progression generator. You can use this free online tool to generate various popular chord progressions for all the keys.

Create the melody of the song first

The melody is the main idea of the song. The chord progression of any song depends totally on the melody (a tune) in use. The melody decides which chord to come next on that particular part of the song. Therefore to have a ready melody will always ease your work of finding the right chord progression for your song. However, you can still experiment with other alternative chords with little improvisation in the original melody. This can give you a lot of great-sounding ideas to experiment with.

Find the chord progression that best fits the tune

Now, this is the time to find the chords behind your tune. Yes, I completely understand that as a beginner, finding chords of a newly composed tune is a bit difficult task for you. I therefore already have a separate post for you explaining How to find the chords of a song. You can check the link to find out how you can help yourself in the struggle of finding out the right chord.

Experimenting with other chord progressions

As I have already mentioned above, experimenting with alternative chords can bring you real surprises. You may also try on your own level to substitute a chord. Improvising the tune and changing the chords accordingly is a total fun.

Using a popular progression

Another way can be of finding an already popular and common chord progression that too from your genre of song, and check if your song fits in that song progression. Keep trying with random chord progressions for the key of the song. There are maximum chances that your song will get fit into some progression. You just need to make sure that your composition at least matches with one progression. This is to confirm that your song is technically in the right progression.


Image by StockSnap from Pixabay