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All You Need Are These Four Chords

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 Nuno
(@nuno)
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Hi guys!

I'm slightly busy these days and I'm not very active. Yesterday I read a post in a blog and I think it can be interesting. We usually say "you can play thousands of song with just three chords". They use four chords in the video and play around 40 songs with the same progression.

All You Need Are These Four Chords


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(@anonymous)
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i saw a comic do the same thing with a different progression. i think it was 1 5 6 4. but yeah, that's why all those bands sell a million records and have never put out anything creative. tempting, isn't it?


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 KR2
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Good post and link, Nuno.
What that shows me is . . . even if you have a nice chord progression . . .
one must still pull the melody from it.
Quite a lot of possibilities as shown with that video.
I imagine the number of possibilities grows exponentially with the number of chords in the progression . . .
raised to the power of the number of notes in the melody?
Whew!

KR2

It's the rock that gives the stream its music . . . and the stream that gives the rock its roll.


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(@anonymous)
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Good post and link, Nuno.
What that shows me is . . . even if you have a nice chord progression . . .
one must still pull the melody from it.
Quite a lot of possibilities as shown with that video.
I imagine the number of possibilities grows exponentially with the number of chords in the progression . . .
raised to the power of the number of notes in the melody?
Whew!

KR2

not really. the melody is generally going to come from the notes of the key, not necessarily of the individual chords.


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(@vic-lewis-vl)
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I decided, when I took over the SSG this year, that I'd try and get people thinking musically as well as lyrically. So the first assignment I posted was to write around a chord progression - wanna take a wild guess which one?
Now a lot of records from that era featured a similar progression - a I - VIm - IV - V progression. In the key of G, that'd be G / Em / C and D. In the key of A it'd be A / F#m / D and E. In the key of C, C / Am / F and G. You get the idea? So your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to write a song using these four chords, in any order, in the key of your choice, for the verses.

I know of literally hundreds of songs that use that I - VIm - IV - V progression. Or variations of it. To take a few at random: Stand By Me, Crocodile Rock, Brown Eyed Girl, His Latest Flame, Diana, Oh Carol, Last Kiss, With Or Without You, etc etc etc...........

And there's probably a lot more been written since November!

:D :D :D

Vic

"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)


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 KR2
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not really. the melody is generally going to come from the notes of the key, not necessarily of the individual chords.
Oh . . . well . . . . then . . . that makes it a LOT easier.

It's the rock that gives the stream its music . . . and the stream that gives the rock its roll.


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(@ignar-hillstrom)
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not really. the melody is generally going to come from the notes of the key, not necessarily of the individual chords.

I'm sorry but I disagree. Chords back the melody, and even though the chords played by a specific instrument may not always contain the central note of the melody of that measure the progression itself will combine both. For example, you can start 'my way' by sinatra Ornaments will generally feature notes based on a specific scale, which is in turn based on the key, but when composing the melody and notes of the chords stronly correlate. Or atleast with popular music, whether it's Bach or The Beatles. It's a practice that started atleast as long back as strict counterpoint, where the melodies played together should form harmonic triads.


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(@anonymous)
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i'm not sure what exactly you meant, but let's say a song is in C. say C F G. over the G chord, you're likely to find any note of the c major scale, not just g b or d. the chord tones occur more often, but they are by no means the only options. you also occasionally find non-scalar chromatic tones, but those are more common in jazz. and in blues or blues rock, you'll often find blues minor pentatonics and bent notes over major chord progressions.
and as for bach and the beatles, i just looked at the first page of the partita in d, and it has all sorts of scale fragments and other non-chord tones, and the beatles had all sorts of unconventional interesting melodies, even delving into sitar music, which i'm pretty sure broke all sorts of western musical conventions.


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(@ignar-hillstrom)
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If you'd analyse it a bit further then just glancing at it you'll notice that a melody is made up of 'central notes' and ornaments. The central notes will be part of the progression, the ornaments usually won't. Remember that a chord progression is not the same as the harmonies played with the left hand, the progression is the combination of left hand+central notes. If the first chord in a progression is C-major the central note(s) will either be C, E or G. If it's not something is up. For example, if A is the central note the chord would be C6, whether or not you decide to play that A in the rhythm section or not.


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(@dogbite)
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melodic lines become very interesting when listening to Gregorian Chants. when several melodies in the same key.

talking about the easy commonality of four chord and three chord songs it is important to understand that
the essence of what sets a band apart is the hair and clothes.
yep.

http://www.soundclick.com/bands/pagemusic.cfm?bandID=644552
http://www.soundclick.com/couleerockinvaders


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(@rparker)
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And then there's the tinnest book on my book shelve, right beside "Tasty Low-Fat Southern Cooking" entitled "Blues Songs That Roy Knows Without an A7 Chord".
i saw a comic do the same thing with a different progression. i think it was 1 5 6 4. but yeah, that's why all those bands sell a million records and have never put out anything creative. tempting, isn't it?

I wonder what is harder. Being creative on a blank canvas or being creative on a canvas with boundries, rules, acceptable ethics, etc? I digress

And then there's this classic moment as my brother-in-law hit the chorus and we both stopped.

"What are you playing?"
"Thank You, by Led Zep"
"Oh. I was playing 'Can't You See"

Well, it sounded good until I hit a Bm chord.

Roy
"I wonder if a composer ever intentionally composed a piece that was physically impossible to play and stuck it away to be found years later after his death, knowing it would forever drive perfectionist musicians crazy." - George Carlin


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(@vic-lewis-vl)
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i saw a comic do the same thing with a different progression. i think it was 1 5 6 4. but yeah, that's why all those bands sell a million records and have never put out anything creative. tempting, isn't it?

Would that by any chance be Rob Paravonian's Pachelbel Rant?

(Thanks to BarnaBusRox, who originally posted the link.)

:D :D :D

Vic

"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)


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 Cat
(@cat)
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that's why all those bands sell a million records and have never put out anything creative. tempting, isn't it?

Okay, Jason...TRY IT!!!

Cat

"Feel what you play...play what you feel!"


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(@vic-lewis-vl)
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that's why all those bands sell a million records and have never put out anything creative. tempting, isn't it?

Okay, Jason...TRY IT!!!

Cat

Ooooh - sounds like a challenge! But then again, why shouldn't Jason just take the same old chords someone's used before, and put new lyrics to them? I think that's what he means by lack of creativity.....

See if you can spot the difference, musically speaking, between these two songs....

1 - Elvis - His Latest Flame

2- Smokie - Don't Play Your Rock'n'Roll To Me

So - what would you call that? A pastiche? A tribute? Me, I'd call it a complete and utter rip-off - and that band (Smokie- they had to change their name from Smokey after a certain Mr Robinson objected - they couldn't even come up with an original name, fer crissakes!) had quite a few hits in the mid-to-late-70's.

There's only so many chords to work with - and most of us aren't capable of using more than a few in a song! Diminished, augmented, minor add 9ths - we tend to put them to one side till we know how to use them properly. Trouble is, most of us never do - so we'll keep on using the same old chords, the same old variations even, again and again. Hey - they worked before, why not now!

:D :D :D

Vic

"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)


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(@anonymous)
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elvis ripped off everyone himself, though. i might be wrong but i heard he only wrote one song.


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