Guitar Lessons

The Core of a Song - The Chords

Welcome to the first lesson of our ambitious plan to write and record a full track over a series of four videos! The first thing to do is choose the chord progression as the core of the song. We'll start by deciding on a key. As this song will just be guitar based, the key is arbitrary - Dan's gone for the key of A Major. If you're trying to pick a key to suit a vocal range for example, you might need to think about this for a bit longer!

Once we've decided on a key we immediately get seven chords from harmonising that major scale. If this idea is something new to you check out our Ionian Course which goes into this idea in depth. For now though, here are the chords we get from the key:

Playing Those Chords

Now we know the chords that are available to us we need to be able to play them! There are an (almost?) infinite number of ways to play these chords, but two main apporaches. The first is to use the standard Barre Chords in the following positions:

The second is to use the CAGED system to play the chords with less movement up and down the neck, but with more shapes. This is certainly a more advanced approach, but can lead to some really nice chord voicings. If you're unsure how we get these chord shapes check out our CAGED courses free online. Here's how Dan plays the chords in the video:

The A Section

After a bit of experimentation (all part of the fun!) Dan settled on a I ii vi IV vii progression and the chords are as follows:

Try making your own A section by experimenting with different chord combinations and different grooves. Try keeping to the constraint of four or five chords to force youself to be creative! Dan has gone for a soul style groove but you can do anything you want!

The B Section

Your B section doesn't need to have as many chords in as your A section. The idea is to have something that feels different to the A section, and perhaps create a bit of tension to pull back to the A section. Dan has simply gone for B minor - nothing more!

The Structure

Now we have an A section and a B section we can put them together to give out song some structure. For this lesson Dan has gone for an A A B layout which means you play through the A section twice, then through the B section. So far that gives us a very short song, but we can build on that in the next lesson! As an experiment try working out the structure to a few of your favourite songs - you may be surprised by how simple they can be!

Once you're happy with that feel free to move on to the second week here!

Weekly Challenge

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