Play Any Pop Song in Any Key (Beginner Music Theory and Guitar Lesson) | Connor Gehlert | Skillshare

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Play Any Pop Song in Any Key (Beginner Music Theory and Guitar Lesson)

teacher avatar Connor Gehlert, Understanding Music via Guitar

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

4 Lessons (15m)
    • 1. Intro

    • 2. Number system and Scales

    • 3. Tonics and Dominants and Common Notes

    • 4. The Pop Song Progressoin

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About This Class

In this class we talk about the most common Pop chord progression, what it is, and how to go about putting it in any key that fits your vocal range.

Songs that use this chord progression include (but are by no means the only ones):

Journey -- "Don't Stop Believing" James Blunt -- "You're Beautiful" Black Eyed Peas -- "Where Is the Love" Alphaville -- "Forever Young" Jason Mraz -- "I'm Yours" Train -- "Hey Soul Sister" The Calling -- "Wherever You Will Go" Elton John -- "Can You Feel The Love Tonight" (from The Lion King) Akon -- "Don't Matter" John Denver -- "Take Me Home, Country Roads" Lady Gaga -- "Paparazzi" U2 -- "With Or Without You" The Last Goodnight -- "Pictures of You" Maroon Five -- "She Will Be Loved" The Beatles -- "Let It Be" Bob Marley -- "No Woman No Cry" Marcy Playground -- "Sex and Candy" Men At Work -- "Land Down Under" Theme from America's Funniest Home Videos Jack Johnson -- "Taylor" Spice Girls -- "Two Become One" A Ha -- "Take On Me" Green Day -- "When I Come Around" Eagle Eye Cherry -- "Save Tonight" Toto -- "Africa" Beyonce -- "If I Were A Boy" Kelly Clarkson  -- "In My Head" The Smashing Pumpkins -- "Bullet With Butterfly Wings" Joan Osborne -- "One Of Us" Avril Lavigne -- "Complicated" The Offspring -- "Self Esteem" The Offspring -- "You're Gonna Go Far Kid" Akon -- "Beautiful" Timberland featuring OneRepublic -- "Apologize" Eminem featuring Rihanna -- "Love the Way You Lie" Bon Jovi -- "It's My Life" Lady Gaga -- "Pokerface" Aqua -- "Barbie Girl" Red Hot Chili Peppers -- "Otherside" 

Yes this is taken from a sampling of Axis of Awesome's "Four Chords" Song.

Meet Your Teacher

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Connor Gehlert

Understanding Music via Guitar


Hi! I'm Connor, 

I went to Jazz School so you didn't have to. 


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1. Intro: Hey, guys. Connor, Um, today we're gonna talk about how to take the infamous four chords that you hear in every single pop song and how toe take it instead of just being Oh, I can only play this in one key. Take it on your guitar or your piano for whatever. I'm going to show it on guitar, whatever plays your cords that you want to sing of over and put it in whatever key you want . And by the end of this lesson, you should be able to play a huge list of pop songs in Ah, whatever key suits your voice, Beth. 2. Number system and Scales: So as you can see, we have all the chords in the key of C diatonic Lee speaking, starting with C major d minor e minor F major G major A minor and be diminished. Now, while chord names air nice, we can always rely on those for an efficient way to transpose between keys. So we assign each of these scale degrees a number one as the tonic to three, four, 56 and seven. Now the seven is diminished. And here's the thing about diminished chords. They sound bad. So we're going to Ah, just get rid of that one real quick. Yeah, that's fine. Pop music doesn't use it anyway. They seeing, ah, classical notation. You'll get capital Roman numerals like this one that represent the major chords and lower case numerals to represent the minor chords so you can tell which ones are major and minor by the little dot above. The eyes now in jazz notation, we should keep the Roman numerals, but we put a little minus sign, or sometimes an M right there to tell you whether it's minor. If there's nothing else, it's major. That one's minded to forget about that. You might be wondering, Why are we doing this? Well, the answer is so we can put it in a different key. If we take these cords, for example. Well, they're one and two, but what Air one into in a different key. Let's erase this and start with the G. So the one is G and G. The two is a minor, N g. The three is being minor. The four is C. The five is D. This six is E minor and the seven is f sharp diminished. But ah, like we said before, does not sound good. We've got not communism in pop music. Now that I've gotten rid of that, these Roman numerals apply to these letters. So as long as you know what, Kieran Google it. If you need to Google the order 12345 and six will be your guide to switching keys. All right, so looking at on the guitar, the one major N. C is C makes sense. The two minor is gonna be D minor. Three minor is gonna b e minor. The former The four major excuse May is an F major five major. Is it G major the six minor is an a minor, and then I know we're ignoring. Ah, the diminished because it's pop, but here's be diminished just in case. Doesn't sound too pleasant. Uh, but on its own, it really wants to go to sea now. Just give you another perspective if we're switching keys, looking at the guitar again, If we're going to G for example, G would be your one. You're too minor. Would be a going right up the alphabet and then be minor would be your three. To do that bar chord your four major would be See your five major would be D major supposed to minor like it wasn't the other key were five or six will be E minor and then you're seven, which is diminished would be f sharp, as opposed to F not the most pleasant 3. Tonics and Dominants and Common Notes: so in Western music and music that we're familiar with, anyway. Diatonic chords that meaning cords that are all in the same key, our categorizes tonic sub dominant and dominant. And all that means is their function. A tonic, for example, is your one chord. It's home or the key you're in or whatever. That's where tonic comes from. Now you might be wondering, Why are there multiple chords in these categories? Well, that's because they all share at least two notes with each other. The sea, for example. We spell that see be Jake. And all that really means is those are the notes in a C major chord. Now let's say I wanted to spell E minor if I was to get rid of the sea. Well, we're halfway there, got E G and the last note B, which is barely gonna make it in the frame. That's any court e minor, the e n G notes Aaron Common. While B is new, now get rid of that. Let's spell an a minor chord. A c e. Give it a that G there goes. There you go. An A minor chord. Seeing your shared with C and e he's and all the tonic chords while see and ah g r the notes in common as well. Now, if that makes sense, you can take that and apply to the rest of the cords. There we go in these other categories. Now that's a tonic court right there. There, three of them, and a sub dominant chord is a place to go that wants to go back to the tonic. It resolves it to call the cadence, but a dominant chord. A dominant court has a stronger resolution to the tonic. A sub dominant does resolve to a tonic. But as I'll pick up a guitar and show you in a bit, a dominant court has a stronger resolution to the tonic. So a typical chord progression in Western music maiko tonic. So in this key, see and then go to a sub dominant, let's say the two and that would be D minor in this key. And then to ah, Dominic Corde, the five that BG in the key of C and then get rid of that diminished chord. We don't need to talk about that. Then we'll go back toe one a tonic. Now all of these cords are interchangeable with the other chords in their category. So that's for example, say you are having trouble figuring out a particular court progression. Well, take a look at your subgroups. If you're playing, say the sub dominant it. It doesn't sound like an F. Maybe it's a D minor. If you're playing a one, it doesn't quite sound rate tray of six. Or try a three. Use your ear. Use your ears. If it sounds right, it is right, all right, so I'm topic of tonics and dominance and sub dominant when it's stay and see. For now, we're gonna take a look at sea being your one. That's your tonic. Now it shares notes specifically this C and the E with a minor. Now, if you're on guitar, you can kind of see where that shape comes from. See a minor, your only moving one finger so those other two notes see up top Andy down below. How are in common? You only switch your seat down below to a in the middle. He's also shared two notes with a minor. It's fewer in common with a but more in common with C. It's all relative to the one because it's a tonic. So only the only movie really making you're taking the sea right here on moving it down to a B. Do that with the hire, see, and this goes for sub dominance. Here's an F because we're in C notice. The four chord. It's the major. The other sub dominant would be a D minor. Now these least share a few notes in common as well. If you take your top chunk of that F bar chord one. From here, we're just going on the third fret, skipping the bottom two strings and my bottom. I mean, lowest in pitch were doing. We're taking the F that you're playing in your third finger on the third fret, moving it to the third fret B string to make a D minor so that F is going up to a D. Andi have to sub dominant court now for your dominant chord. The G sounds like a really, really, really wants to go to one way more than a sub dominant court does. That could go. You expect that to go to a gym just based on what we've heard in all of our lives, a supposed to. One of those is a much stronger cadence. So the G chord shares notes with the be diminished chord that sounds so ugly that we don't use it in pop music. 4. The Pop Song Progressoin: All right, so your typical pop chord progression is criminal, Please. One, five, six, minor four. And in the key of C, that means see major G major, a minor, an F major now using everything we've talked about in the previous videos. Thes numbers line up with others. Scale degrees in other keys. If you know your scales and line them up with the numbers provided in earlier videos, it will tell you which ones are major. Which ones are minor and easily You can transpose between keys. Let's give you another example, though. Say we wanted to take this chord progression and put into G. The one would equal tree being the tonic. The five in the key of G would be D. The six minor would be e minor, and the four would be See now. As I said before, you can switch this to any key that you want. The only information that you need is the order and the key signature. There go the flats and sharps of whichever key you're wanting to transpose to, and you can line the graphs up and transpose he's used that. So let's do another example. Let's say we wanted to be in the key of B flat. A one and B flat would, of course, be B flat. The five and B flat would be f. The six minor and B flat would be G minor, and the four in B flat would be e flat major. Now, let's hear these examples. All right. Now, the moment you've all been waiting for the four chords for a huge list of pop songs, you've got your one your size. You've got your six. You got your four now. Axis of Awesome did a comedy video about this forever ago. Someone include a list of their songs that they used in the description so you can get a feel, and there are in real life in all sorts of different keys. And that's the whole point of this lesson is so you can shift this progression into as many different keys is you want now that you know how to work with in the numbers that he used in almost all of music. Um, and they just look a few different ways and take it. If you want to play this in a flat because sees too high or low for you. Play it in a flat. Take your cape. Oh, don't take your capel use bar chords. Got 1564 in a flat, for example. I'll give it to you and G as well. Here's G one D five e Minor is your six and four C and now, with a combination of what you know and you're here for the direction of these cords, um, you can play everything from Neil Young to journey to Lady Ga Ga to Red Hot Chili Peppers and the company yourself while you sing it. All of these things also work on piano. I know I showed everybody on guitar. It's because I know how to play guitar way better than piano. But you can take the same principle and just take the cords you already know and love and transposed them. Tow whatever key you need, because it's just one 56 four