Chord Progression Chart

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Questions and Answers

Reference for chord voicings on piano?

Hi, I was wondering if you guys know of any online reference or book with different chord voicing styles? Lol, I have writers block right now and need some inspiration. Thanks in advance.

Posted by Jill
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"Chord voicing styles" ... I'm not sure what that means. Are you asking for a chord chart, inversion of chords, or progressions. I personally don't like the approach of writing music from a chord progression; I write melody first and then work on the harmony.

I don't have any ready reference for chord progressions, but you can go to Http:// to build chords and scales.

Help With Chord Progressions?

I love to compose songs for brass ensembles and bands but I need some help with chord progressions. I know there are books on them but I dont feel like buying anything right now. I do have a keyboard chord book that is helpful but I just dont understand chord progressions. For example, if i write or read a jazz chart i dont understand how they labeled all the chords above the bars. Is it possible to make up my own progression? How do i know which chords can be made into chord progressions?

Posted by ComputerWhiz
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As a brass player you are used to playing single note lines within a brass section. The rest of the section is also playing single note lines, that are a harmony of what you are playing. You are used to functioning in a linear format.

Chords are made up of three or more notes stacked together. To create chords we use tertiary harmony, or harmony based in thirds. The major scale dictates the harmony so that every chord is based on a root note, a third and a fifth. We call this a triad. By learning the order of triads within a major scale you can gain a much greater understanding of how chord progressions work.

I strongly suggest taking a college level music course that deals with musicianship and basic harmony and theory. I mention this because you need to have a clear understanding of how basic harmony works and how simple triads move before you can understand more complex jazz progressions and how the chords are derived for them.

When you look at a chart that has chords written on top, they are based on the harmonic structure of the notes stacked vertically. It is the harmony of the parts that dictates what the chord progression is, and visa versa. The chord progression is the framework for the parts that the separate pieces are playing.

The most common progression in music is the basic I-IV-V progression. In the key of C that would be the chords C major, F major and G major. (I have not included 7ths just to keep it simple) The notes in each triad are as follows; C (c e g), F (f a c), G (g b d) If you stack these chords up with the root on bottom, third in the middle, and fifth on top, you would have a standard root position set of triads.
Each instrument would play one of those three parts. (root, 3rd, 5th) This is how the progression dictates the part. You do not have to play each triad in root form. You can invert the order of notes in each chord to keep the lines simple. By using common tones and close motion you can create coherent parts that fulfill the melodic motion and retain the vertical harmony.

By analyzing the vertical harmony of the parts you can ascertain the proper chord name for each group of stacked notes. Let me use the basic progression above to illustrate:
g--a--b horn 1
e--f--g horn 2
c--c--d horn 3
Notice that the linear line for each piece moves very little. Horn 1 & 2 simply play a whole step and another whole step, while horn 3 plays the same note twice and then moves up a whole step. The chord progression is still C major, F major, and G major but by using close voices and common tones the progression has been tailored to fit the instrumentation.
This is what horn charts are really about. Taking the vertical harmony of a progression and manipulating it to create a cohesive set of single note lines that will convey the progression.

Any and all chords within a specific key can be used to create a chord progression. This is why you need to study some of the basic concepts of chord construction and harmonic motion and resolution. These are concepts best learned in a classroom or with a private instructor. By studying these ideas, you will understand how to create good charts.

Why do chord progressions have to follow the 'Chart'?

If you have ever studied music theory, you know what I'm talking about (If not, just google "Chord Progression Chart"). Be as detailed as possible. Talk about what would happen if you didn't choose to follow the chart. Don't say, "It has to follow the circle of fifths" without explaining to me WHY that is important.

Posted by streetskate08
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I went through music conservatory as a piano performance major and later did a second upper-level training in theory and composition, and never -- in all that classical study -- ever seen a "Chord Progression Chart."

ADD: I just googled it: this is a form of popular music theory, and specific for guitar playing more than actual 'music theory.' Please Do Not Mistake It In Any Way As Music Theory: what you learn from a chart like that would not qualify you for admittance to or be of any help to you in a freshman college theory 101 class. It may help you learn your way around basic guitar, but if you ever want a handle on music theory, of any sort, I'd ditch it. Thinking in nothing but 'chords' is very "pop theory" and wholly detrimental to your full development as a musician, regardless of musical genre. /// The shock there is another planet of music theory, often at odds with the pop theory terminology, shows up often enough in this category of Y/A, especially when it comes to analysis and identifying chords beyond the basic triads and seventh chords. END ADD

Some chords work, to all ears, better than others going one to the next. Initially, it is what is first learned, classical or other theory, since one has to start somewhere, and from the basics and beginning is almost always the best as well as most logical starting point. I repeat your chord chart has at least as much or more to do with 'the handiness' of playing guitar at a basic level vs. Actual theoretic musical use, or other real musical possibility.

After one further investigates theory, there are no 'rules' but only examples of how, formerly, someone else 'made music work.'

If everyone 'followed the chart,' as if it were a law there would be no more music, no need to make anymore, and all listeners would be bored to tears!

Some progressions, within a certain context, may have one chord sounding really 'weak' - and your flow or structure collapse. That same chord, approached with different horizontal voicing of parts - individual lines, in an otherwise similar harmonic context, could sound 'fine.' That is nothing you will learn to do anything about if you are studying 'chord - chord - chord' instead of approaching those chords as a consequence of several simultaneous lines. -- Because, that is after all, how you learn enough to make anything sound good!

No rules, no laws, just examples of what most commonly 'works' or what others before you have made 'work.' At the time, at least in the common practice period of classical theory, what ended up in textbooks was 'breaking rules' of that day!

You are in trouble if you take those examples you study as a rule or 'law.' - you may have to mimic those examples closely for an assignment, that is so you learn how to work them yourself. It is not intended that will be the way you 'should' or will later compose.

That chart, again, is for pop music more than anything, all the conventional progressions, and very much about how to physically negotiate the guitar while mucking about within that set of conventions. It is a list of what has commonly worked and been done before, no more, no less.

Best regards.

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