Understanding chords to improve songwriting | Christopher Richter | Skillshare

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Understanding chords to improve songwriting

teacher avatar Christopher Richter, Learn to create music the way you want!

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

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

25 Lessons (33m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Chromatic Scale

    • 3. Sharps (#) and Flats (b)

    • 4. Semitones

    • 5. Tones

    • 6. Scales

    • 7. D Major Scale

    • 8. Chords

    • 9. Minor Chords

    • 10. More Minor Chords

    • 11. Other Chords

    • 12. Other Chords - Your Turn

    • 13. Chord Groups

    • 14. Example Chord Groups

    • 15. Chord demonstration using C Major Chords

    • 16. Chord Groups Summary

    • 17. Chord demonstration using D Major Chords

    • 18. Chord Groups So Far

    • 19. Bonus: chord examples

    • 20. Form Principles

    • 21. Form Principles - Example

    • 22. Hook

    • 23. Instrumentation

    • 24. Demo Recording

    • 25. What Next?

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About This Class

The Songwriting Series ‘Understanding Chords’ will give you an understanding of how music is structured. It is a guide to how contemporary music is formed in a way that makes songwriting easier, faster and more intuitive.

Understanding Chords will help you discover, in a straight forward and concise manner, how you can create your own music to support your lyrics.

Developed by Chris Richter, with over 7 years of one on one music teaching experience and over 20 years of performance experience, you will discover how easy it is to create your own music.

Meet Your Teacher

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Christopher Richter

Learn to create music the way you want!


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1. Introduction: hi un Chris Richter and welcome to Understanding Cords, part of a songwriting. Siri's teaching you all the skills you need to start writing your own music and your own songs. The basis of most songs in Western popular music is a ran cords and, in particular hair cords fit together in a song Before we get started. As a very brief introduction, my background is in many aspects of the music industry, from stand production and songwriting. Teoh touring live performances where I've played many instruments, from drums to guitar based guitar keyboard and in all those different roles, I use these basic chords and concepts to develop and create all the music that are writing record. We'll cover the court principal starting right from the beginning, and once you understand the basic chords and chord groups will look at how songs have formed and hey can put those chords together to complete the course. We will cover a few extras that will help you when you're writing your own music, say, let's go 2. Chromatic Scale: we're going to use the piano to visualize the notes and how they work, as it's the easiest way to understand music. Don't worry if your guitar player or play different instruments. Learning by visualizing a piano is still the best way to understand cords. The common good terrorists and I'll explain later, have this France first to guitar as well. Let's see what all this means. Western music is made up of 12 nights each night has a name based on the letter from the alphabet A to G with an extra night between some of the letters in the alphabet, these nights together to call the chromatic scale a chromatic scout. Come you played If you play age night to its next closest night, some nights have two names like See Shop or the hash symbol or D flat, which is the same night. Let's look at what these symbols actually main 3. Sharps (#) and Flats (b): The first symbol is called a shop, not tick tack toe or hashtag. It represents the closest night after the night that you're currently looking at. The lowercase B is pronounced flat and represents the closest not below the note that you're currently looking at. For example, the night See shop circled. Here's the night just after C. The note see shop can also be called D flat, as it is the closest note Belay the night D. Similarly, G shop is the night just after G, which can also be called a flat as it is and not just below or before I. The question you may have is window are cool and not a sharp or a flat. We'll cover that for you very, very soon. 4. Semitones: semi Tien is the name we give to the distance from One Night tweets Classist Night. As already mentioned See Shop is the note just above the night. See that distance is called a semi town. The distance between any note to its closest night is called a semi tone. Another example from C to D Flat is this any time or from 80 F is a semi time. Neither said there isn't an extra note between A and F on the piano. 5. Tones: the time is simply two semi tones. If we start at sea and canned up two nights, we have the night day. This distance between the knights is called Atone. For example, C to D is attain C two C shop today, see Shop to D shop is a tone A to F shop. They if if shop is a time or F to G, is a tone. Remember, a tone equals two semi tones. Now make sure you understand the difference between it and a semi tone before you continue as well. Use this for the rest of this course. 6. Scales: Let's look at scales. A scale is a collection of nights that have a specific pattern of towns and semi tones. The scale works by picking any night to start from and then counting the same pattern of tones and semi tones so that you end up with a scale. Let's look at the same. I just got the pattern for a C major scale is tone tone, semi tone, tone, tone, tone, semi time se starting from the night, see get up one time and right down this night Here it is day neg up another time and write down the next night a got a semi tiene which takes us to, if another time to g up another timeto I another time to be and then a semi attain back to see So the patent for a major scale is tone tone. Semi tiene time, time, time. It's every time. Don't worry. If this doesn't make sense yet, let's just try that on a different night 7. D Major Scale: okay, using the same pattern as before with their C major scowl. Tain tain semi attain tone tone tone Semi 10. Let's try starting from D The tying up from D is a turn up from E is if shop the semi tying up from If Shop is G. The turnout from G is a then another. Time is Bay Another time takes us to see shop and then a semi turned back to D. So the nights in a d major scale i d e if shop G I B c shop and D. Now there are two things to learn from this the first twenties that we only have one of each letter of the alphabet in the sky. I'll we don't write this as D A G flat G a B D Flat D because that way we'd have two G's, a G flat on the G and A D flat on the D. Instead, we may actually any is one of its letter of the alphabet D E. A. F shop, G, I, B, C Shop and D. Secondly, if you follow the towns and Symington's correctly, you should end up the same night that you started on in this case. D Let's try this again with the if my just Kyle So starting on if we go up atone EF two g another time g to a but cemetery in a to B flat Another time B flat to see the tone c to D a time data A in a semi time A to f notice again we started on F we ended back on. If so, we've no we've done it quickly and the notes in a F major scale would be f g a b flat C d e f. What you should be how to do now is go through and style on any night, work out the notes in a major scale, making sure you end up on the same night that started using the patent tone tone, semi tone, tone, tone, tone, semi Thanh 8. Chords: Now let's look at cords. Accord is a collection of nights played at the same time. Think of when you play a chord on the guitar. You put your fingers in the right place and instruct all the nights at once. This is accord on a piano. You play a group of nights together that sound good together. This is called a cord. We're going to learn how a court is created. Once you learn the basics, you can start creating your own cords. The cord, similar to a Skiles, is made up of a pattern of times and semi tones. For example, if you say the sea on music or the chord C on music, you would need to play the notes c a N g together at the same time. The pattern for a see, also called a C major chord, is forcing retains and three semi attains. So if we find the Nazi thing, got force M attains C c. Sharp d d shop e we had the night A If we think up three semi attains from the e, we got E. If if shop to g, get the night G so see Magic Cord has the night C, e and G. If you repeat the same pattern starting from the day night we start on day. We got four semi times D day shop A F f shop. Then we get up three semi times from if shop G J shop I we have the Knights d if shop and I If we play all those three nights together, then we have a d major chord. 9. Minor Chords: Let's try creating accord from a few different nights. So let's look at an image accord. So starting on a regard for Symington's be toe, if if shop g g shop. So first to 19 unequalled I E and G shop. We then got 37 times from G Shop, which would give us G shop. I I shop and be and the Knights Foran. A magic cord will be e g shop and be now let's have a look at and f chord stunning on if we got for Symington's. If, if Sharpe J J Shop I a second night will be a from F I up. Three senators from a will be a shop B C now three nights in if court will be f i N c. Have a look on the chat and you'll be out of work out of. You should be able to work at now the nights or how we got the nights in a G chord and accord and a B flat chord 10. More Minor Chords: if you take a lot of notice of the cords on music, you may have seen a lower case letter M after the cord night. This is called a minor chord. In this case, we're looking at a C minor chord or see with a little M. The patent, for a minor chord, is ther vis of a magical three semi attains, followed by four semi tones. Say it. Let's try it. Starting on C her first night. See, we got three semi tones. Si si shop d a flat. So a second and easy flat. Then we got four semi times from a flat. Which Texas to A F F Shop G. So the three nights in a c'mon accord R C e flat and G or an easy way to work it out. If you already know the nights in a C major chord, C, e and G take the middle night down a semi time and that will make it see a flat and g The same works for a daemon accord as well. Standing on d, we go up three semi attains Dee dee sharp e f. So cut the nets D and F. We think up another 47 times if F sharp G J shop A. So when you have the next D F and A for a daemon accord, remember that a D major chord was D F sharp. A. If we take the middle night down a semi tone, it becomes D F A, which makes it really quick toe workout cords from a D major chord on the piano to a daemon accord. And this work similar to guitar as well. When you're playing a chord, you can change one night or one finger move it, and that will change a major chord to Amman Accord. 11. Other Chords: some chords can have more than three nights. If you've noticed a sea with the number seven written after it or C seven Chord in your music, it is made up of four nuts. The pattern first see seven chord or it's actually called a C dominant seven is four semi times, three semi times and 37 times. Say to work that out at sea. Seven chord. We'll have SI up to a new E with four semi tones. Three. Symington's Texas to G, which is actually a c major chord. And then we add on after that Another three semi turns up with Koji shop I b flat is the night we need, so he s C, e g and B flat Those four nights or played together give us a C seventh chord. I will say dominant seventh chord now in a similar way a C minus seven Has it time patent as well, So a patent for a C minus seven will be a C A flat G and B flat, which will be three semi Italians four semi times and three semi tens. So all of these patterns are all shown on this chat and you can work at your own or work at the cords yourself. Starting on other see night, we're starting on any night toe. Work out what the different chords are. You'll see a C major seven, which has the spacing four semi attains 37 times and four semi tones, or a se SAS for which actually only has three nights in it instead of the full. And a CSS for has 57 Italians followed by two semi tones starting to see that will be a C and if energy. 12. Other Chords - Your Turn: you can now try building your own chords, so I have a got a day seven chord using the pattern from the previous lesson. Try doing a G minus seven and I'm on a seven. And if I just seven chord and a G suss four and see her go with creating, there's cords. If you're not sure I need some help to work the Mount, have a look at the court intervals chat that follows this Listen. 13. Chord Groups: Now we come to the really fun part using core groups. Writing a song involves putting all these chords together in a way that makes sense and makes a complete song. You have to sound right to our ears. There is a way to work out which cords go together, depending on the cord or key that you first out with knowing that a C major scale has the following night. C, d, E, f, G, A, B and C. We can write all of these Daniels chat just like have here by then checking what the intervals are. Between these notes, we could discover if the intervals are Simitis credit major or minor chords starting on each night of the major scalp. Don't panic. This will make sense very, very soon. Okay, let's do it. Say if we start on the C chord or a C note and created chord using only the notes in the sea. Scowl choose every second night. So see skip a night, a skipping out G that'll give us the night C A. N g. The distance between them is four semi tones and three semi tones, so that creates a C major chord if we then start on the second night of a Sioux Scout and D choose every second notes o d skip one f get one A. We have the notes deep if and I and it's spacing between. Nice is three semi times and four semi tones that gives us a daemon accord using just those three nights. If we then start on E and pick every second night after a A, G and B, we have again three semi tones and force imitations, so I starting on e. We haven't a mon accord. The same thing works for F If we start on, if Jews each second after. So we go if g a c. So if A and C we found we have 47 times, followed by three semi tones and then we haven't. If magical Fergie spacing comes out as a J magic cord. And for a it comes as a C C, which is the notes in and I'm on a cord. Basically, what we've done is created collection of chords that only have the notes in the same I just go and those collection of chords see major d minor, e minor. If Major G major and a minor old sand good together. This will make it much easier for you to write your songs and to work out what chords should or shouldn't go together when you make your own music. 14. Example Chord Groups: with now it down the records that go together in a C major scale. So the chords of C D minor e minor, F G and a minor. So if we put those chords together and play them one after the other, it will sound a bit like this. See, uh, daemon if g on I'm on a women create a song, we can start on a C chord, pick any of the other chords in any order, and they will all work together and sound like they belong together because they only use the notes in a C major scale. So I have about these patterns there, this see, I'm on a f N g and you comply. That is Iver and Iver. You don't try see FG and see which sounds a bit like this. See, I'm on a J and say Sounds like this on I'm on a f G and see the end of it like this to make it easy for you. Here's a list of all the cords that got together standing on each major scale. So if you want to start a song on a record, you can use the cords D A minor if shot minor G A and B minor. You know, ask any combination and that will sound quite a get together. You can also download a print version of this chap. 15. Chord demonstration using C Major Chords: way and 16. Chord Groups Summary: to make it easy for you. Here's a list of all the cords that go together standing on each major scale. So if you want to start a song on a record, you can use the cords D E minor if shot minor G A and B minor. You know, ask any combination and that will sound quite a get together. You can also download a print version of this chap. 17. Chord demonstration using D Major Chords: 18. Chord Groups So Far: just in a quick summary of what we've done, that we've created a group of chords that go together to suit a particular K to make it easier for songwriters to create their own songs. So by starting on the first chord, you can build the order of your cords using the court. Jap Starting with the G chord, you can use any of the cords in the cave. J Major, which R. G a minor, a minor C D and e minor, that it isn't a set role. Of course, you can be creative and use cords and not in the same group or in that group of cords to making music sound much more creative. But this is certainly a good start. 19. Bonus: chord examples: - way . 20. Form Principles: to make songwriting even easier. Western popular music often uses a common form to create songs each some can be broken down into a section that is often repeated to typical names. Of these sections are an introduction verse, a pre chorus chorus, a bridge, your middle or middle 16. It could be called a salary, and it could be called an ending or an outro. And there are other tombs used by different people for different parts of the song. But for example, the sun could have an introduction, this one, the chorus, first to a chorus and instrumental or solo another first, then maybe a chorus or two choruses and then an ending or outre. 21. Form Principles - Example: you can create your own form from your songs by reusing the music and but just changing the lyrics or changing the instrumentation of the song and deciding what form your song will take. Keep it in a familiar form. Makes it easier for people to learn, listen and enjoying music. Not all music has to follow these forms, but for popular continue music, this is often how it's structured. Very typical song. Would Bay introduction this a pre course in a chorus of this pre chorus chorus or bridge s ole Or maybe back to a chorus, another chorus and then a natural or ending to the song any of these forms quite a kind of use. 22. Hook: There are a few other terms of the worth understanding when you're writing music and using chords, scales and chord shots, and the term a hook is part of what you should lend. Hook is a part of a song. Often it's a chorus or an introduction, or it's an air, the song that makes a song memorable. It could be a melody, a riff allayed part, something that's easy to recognize and hopefully unique about the song. Think about songs that you've heard after hearing the 1st 2 or three seconds. You know exactly what that song is. This is the hook. Grabbing a song that is memorable is something that many writers strive to achieve. And there are many songs that the lyrics of the focal point of the song. But by adding a recognizable hook, you can make your songs musically memorable as well. By concentrating on the introduction, of course, you'll make a song easy for people to remember and to enjoy. It's not essential to have a hook, but it's worth taking this into consideration 23. Instrumentation: Another really important area is instrumentation. Instrumentation is the prices of deciding what instruments you use when you perform a record your song. Sometimes it may be just you on guitar or on keyboard. By using other times, you might want to add other instruments. Here's a list of some options that may help with ideas on instrumentation for your song. Obviously, if you choose brassell strings and you need someone that can actually play the instruments or a cable, apply that comply their sense for you. So typical instruments. Elections could be vital in piano, Vikan, acoustic guitar or voice accused to get on electric guitar, bass and drums for a full band. Or another option could be voice piano, string section, bass and drums. There are many other options and choose the bits that works with you for the song that you are writing or performing 24. Demo Recording: Once you have written your song, a typical activity to do is to record your son. This is your opportunity. Share it with other people that cannot get your performances. It could also be that you write music but don't want to perform it yourself. Recording a demo of your song and asking for improvements in constructive criticism will help make your writing better and help to improve your music. 25. What Next?: now that you understand the basic chord three required to start writing your own songs. Start writing and I look forward to hearing your songs feel free. To share them with me is so be more than happy to provide feedback and help improving your writing. You've now completed understanding court songwriting. Siri's Thank you very much for coming along on this journey, and I hope you have led a lot out of this and I happen. You better write some absolutely amazing and brilliant songs and that lots of people get to hear them. We'll see you in the next course.