Tag Archives: chords

The Chord Progressions of Christmas Music

Posted on November 29, 2019 by songtive

The Chord Progressions of Christmas Music

Chord progressions provide for the basis of every song. First is a look at the chord progressions of the choruses of four popular Christmas songs from different eras. After that, you will find how to replicate the chords of these choruses using the Piano Companion app on your phone, tablet, or computer.

Mariah Carey’s Christmas song “All I Want For Christmas Is You” was first released in 1994 and has turned into a modern-day classic. In fact, there are estimates that the song will hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for the first time in 2019, a full 25 years after the initial release. Written and produced by Carey alongside Walter Afanasieff, the chord progression and chords in the chorus are much more complicated than one may think for an instantly catchy song.

“Jingle Bells” dates back to 1857, when it was performed by James Lord Pierpont and titled “One Horse Open Sleigh”. There is no doubt that this has become a well-known classic, and it has been covered by countless singers ever since it was originally released. Its chorus does not follow a simple sequence with its chord progression and chords; rather, it utilizes multiple of them that combine to make this previously seemingly simple song into a classic.

“Last Christmas” was released by Wham in 1984. It topped the Billboard charts in many countries, mostly throughout Europe, and peaked at #5 on the US Holiday 100. It’s been a mainstay on holiday playlists ever since it was released, with countless covers and reissues. The chorus of “Last Christmas” follows a four-chord progression and utilizes four chords, as noted above. The chord progression is used in many other songs, particularly in the beginning stages of jazz music. With that in mind, it is impressive that Wham pulled this chord progression off as a holiday pop song.

Like “Jingle Bells”, “Frosty The Snowman” is a classic holiday song that seems to have been a mainstay in holiday music for a long time. The song was written in 1950 by Walter “Jack” Rollins and Steve Nelson, the former of which sang (but did not write) “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer”. “Frosty The Snowman” went as high as #7 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart, a now-defunct chart that preceded its flagship Hot 100. It also went to #4 on the now-defunct Billboard Country Singles chart. Despite being in the simple key of C Major, the chorus has a rather complicated chord progression. While most of the chord progressions are I and IV, and most of the chords are C and F, the sequence of them does not follow prolonged patterns and is occasionally interrupted by other chord progressions and chords.

If you are looking for a way to play these melodies yourself, download Songtive’s Piano Companion app on your phone, tablet, or computer. Upon opening the app, navigate to the Chords Dictionary tab to get a visual glance at how to play each cord. Then, find your way to the Piano tab and you can try it for yourself. The default sound is Grand Piano, and there is a setting to change the sound of something such as a guitar or synth by tapping on the upward arrow in the top right corner. Even better, you can record while you play so that you have a chance to listen back.

If it takes you some time to find the chords in the Chords Dictionary tab, there is no need to worry; once you find the chords, you can add them to your Chords Dictionary to make it quick and convenient to re-find the chords.

The Chord Progressions of Hit Songs in 2019

Posted on October 14, 2019 by songtive

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Chord progressions provide for the basis of every song. First is a look at the chord progressions of the choruses of four of the most popular songs in 2019, according to their chart placements on the Billboard Hot 100. After that, you will find how to replicate the chords of these choruses using the Piano Companion app on your phone, tablet, or computer.

This list would not be complete without Lil Nas X’s debut song Old Town Road, which spent a record-breaking 19 consecutive weeks leading the Hot 100, with a remix with Billy Ray Cyrus impacting radio stations everywhere. Lil Nas X originally went viral with this song on social media before it turned into a mainstream hit. The key of G# Dorian is not one of the most popular ones, nor is the overall chord progression. Despite the massive success of this song, the instrumental melody of the chorus isn’t exactly seen as one that would make for guaranteed success.

Lizzo’s song Truth Hurts has an interesting backstory when it comes to chart success. It’s spent more time at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 than any other song in 2019 except for Old Town Road, despite originally being released on September 2017. Nevertheless, the song became a big hit eventually and musically has a relatively basic chorus. It only has two chords, and the key of C Major is one of the most-used in music. Clearly, it did not take a complex chorus melodically to turn this into something people want to hear.

Shallow is the only ballad on this list, as well as the only one to top the Billboard Hot 100 in 2019 through mid-October. It is also the only song on this list to have more than four chords in its chord progression. With those outliers in mind, it is worth noting that the song is set in the key of G Major, the single most popular key in music. This may allow listeners to hear a very familiar sound, which could explain why it is so radio-friendly. Through radio play well past its initial release, one could argue that it is a modern-day classic.

Perhaps one of the toughest songs to learn how to play on this list is a straight-up pop song. Halsey’s song Without Me spent two non-consecutive weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100 and had a lengthy run on many Billboard charts. Its chorus features a four-chord progression, which isn’t unusually long, but the key of D# Minor isn’t particularly common.

Sunflower spent one week at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and is the song that interrupted Without Me’s two-week run. Like Without Me, Sunflower’s success was and still is long-lived. While both artists performing the song are best classified as rappers, Sunflower plays more like a basic pop song. It’s in a popular key and has a pretty basic chord progression. The first four chords of the chorus are all D Major, followed by four G Major, followed by four E Minor, and then back to G Major for the final four chords. It is the only song on this list where the chord progression features chords repeating themselves consecutively.

As you may have noticed, none of these five songs share the same chord progressions or keys, making for a diverse group of music. From that, it can be argued that people are willing to listen to many different chord progressions in many different keys, just as long as the music fits with the vocal melody.

If you are looking for a way to play these melodies yourself, download Songtive’s Piano Companion app on your phone, tablet, or computer. Upon opening the app, navigate to the Chords Dictionary tab to get a visual glance at how to play each cord. Then, find your way to the Piano tab and you can try it for yourself. The default sound is Grand Piano, and there is a setting to change the sound of something such as a guitar or synth by tapping on the upward arrow in the top right corner. Even better, you can record while you play so that you have a chance to listen back.

If it takes you some time to find the chords in the Chords Dictionary tab, there is no need to worry; once you find the chords, you can add them to your Chords Dictionary to make it quick and convenient to re-find the chords.

Great Chords of Pop

Posted on October 10, 2017 by songtive

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Great songs often use great chord progressions. Today, we bring you the legendary I – V – vi – IV progression, which is used by these legendary artists to create songs that are to be considered modern classics. Check it out!

  • Let It Be – The Beatles
  • Another Girl, Another Planet – The Only Ones
  • All You Wanted – Michelle Branch
  • No Vacancy – One Republic
  • And We Danced – Macklemore
  • Save as Draft – Katy Perry
  • Ain’t Your Mama – Jennifer Lopez
  • Bailando – Enrique Iglesias

See how this chord progression is used for different music styles from a rock ballad, through punk rock to today’s pop classics such as Bailando!

Depending on how you use it with our Songtive app, you’ll get different results, but we’ll get to it in a moment.

The Progression

This chord progression is derived for the 50s progression, which we discussed already, but the chords’ order is changed in order to get a different kind of feeling. As the 50s progression sounded more melancholic due to the I – vi chord change (major chord to a minor chord), this time the order is changed to I – V (major chord to major chord) to achieve a cheerful tone that will help you to reflect the positive sensation of your song. So, the mood of your song will mostly go from happy (I – V) to inspirational (vi – IV).

Let’s use The Beatles’ Let it Be as an example:

The notes are:

C – G – A – F

Now, if you take these notes and make them the root of their own chords in the key of C Major, you’ll get the progression:

C – G – Am – F

And by writing it as a chord chart you’ll get the following:

Using it like scale degrees with roman numbers, you can transpose it to any other major key with the Songtive app:

In D major:

In E major:

E – B – C#m – A

etc.

Why it works?

This progression works so well because of the notes of each chord change are related. For the I – V chords there is one common tone that links both chords. For example, in Let it Be, the C major chord (C – E – G) is linked to G major chord (G – B – D) by one chord tone, which is G. This helps to establish the positive section of the song.

Then, we change from V to vi, for which there are no common tones and we shift from major mode (happiness) to minor mode (melancholy). But then we change to the IV chord, and since it is a major chord, going from melancholy to happiness again turns your song into an inspirational sound.

How can I use it?

  • Enter the Songtive app, and tap the menu
  • Select “My Stuff” and then “Songs”
  • Tap the “+” button to add a new default song
  • Tap the musical note at the bottom right and select your root, i.e. your song’s key
  • Tap the “CHORDS” section to add or change the chords of your song
  • That’s it! Now try for different styles by using the “Mixer” at the bottom right!

Remember to try different keys and different styles to get as many artistic results as you like! Step up your game by creating the right progressions for your songs by keeping up with our blog, in which we review new songwriting tools every week!