Writing Music 101: Create a Chord Progression in a Major Key | Jason Rivera | Skillshare

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Writing Music 101: Create a Chord Progression in a Major Key

teacher avatar Jason Rivera, Music Instructor

Watch this class and thousands more

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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

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Your Assignment


    • 3.

      Chords of the Major Scale


    • 4.

      Chords in Tonal Music + Demo


    • 5.

      How This Approach is Useful + Tips


    • 6.

      Final Thoughts


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About This Class

In this twelve minute class music composer Jason Rivera will teach you how to create a balanced chord progression in a major key using a time-honored method. You will learn techniques and concepts that can be applied to writing music in practically any genre.

This class is designed for intermediate songwriters and composers. Basic knowledge of music notation, an understanding of the fundamentals of music theory, access to and the ability to play major, minor, diminished and dominant 7th chords on a chord-producing instrument, e.g., piano or guitar, is required.

I want to hear from you! I encourage you to leave reviews, comments and feedback on this class.

If you want to learn how to change keys (modulate) in your chord progression check out my other class Writing Music 101: Changing Keys (Modulation).

If you're interested in putting your own original chord progression to use in a song or composition check out my fundamentals class Writing Music 101: Songwriting Basics.

Meet Your Teacher

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Jason Rivera

Music Instructor


Hi! I'm Jason - a full time musician, composer and instructor. I've been playing and writing music for over 25 years, and teaching music for over 10 years. You can check out my guitar tips and tricks on my Guitar Teaching YouTube Channel. Alongside creating music courses, I'm a composer for media projects--films, trailers and e-Learning courses.

I really enjoy creating these classes for Skillshare and always aim to make courses that are fun with a focus on foundational techniques and creativity.

I have a variety of classes available here, covering the basics of guitar, ukulele, music theory and songwriting. I encourage you to take a look through the classes below.

I am passionate about providing as much support as I can throughout your music learning journey... See full profile

Level: Intermediate

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1. Introduction: Hello. My name is Jason Carroll. I'm a composer and multi instrumentalist. You can find me online at www dot Jason Rivera music dot com. I've written on played on countless recordings over the years have toward the U. S. As a former and I've written form conducted some of the best musicians in the world here in Los Angeles. In this class, I'm going to teach you how to create a great sounding quarter progression in a major key. My goal is to demystify creating court progressions, hopefully to provide you with a new tool for music. Right Arsenal. I hope that this class will help you to organize, develop your existing ideas, maybe even provide the spark for creative work. 2. Your Assignment: this class, I'm going to guide you through creating a tonal court progression in the key of C major. I'm going to walk you through the process, and then I'm going to demonstrate it on a piano here in my studio. For your assignment, you will try out my method on your own court producing instrument, a guitar or piano, for example. Record yourself playing your court progression and then upload your results to Dropbox, soundcloud or YouTube and post a link to your files in the project gallery. Your recordings don't have to be high. If I it could be a simple recording on your smartphone. Don't be late for the writing or the recording process. The point of this assignment is to get you creating with a new approach and then sharing your experiments with your classmates so that we could all learn together. 3. Chords of the Major Scale: tonal music. It's music, and a major or minor key in this class will be using Roman numeral cord notation to illustrate the connection between courts and their corresponding scale degree in a major key major chords and dominant seventh chords, air capitalized minor chords and diminished chords of our lower case, Roman numeral cord notation is a very useful technique to analyze other people's music and also when writing your own. Here is a chart that shows the cords and see major. No sharps and no flats in the key, you'll see that the one court is major. The two and three chords are minor. The four chord is major. The 57 is a dominant seventh chord. The six court is minor and the last court is full diminished. A great thing about using this Roman numeral labelling system is that it could be applied to any key. For example, this chart we're looking at could be applied to the keys of G major with one sharp or the key of D major with two sharps. When you change to another major key, the chords themselves change. But the underlying relationship between them remains intact. No matter the key. I'm going to play through these chords and see Major using brute position so that you can hear what they sound like. The one chord C major, two Core D minor. The three Chord E Minor. Four Chord F major. The 57 Corgi Dominant seven. The Six Court A minor, uh, the full diminished chord be diminished. 4. Chords in Tonal Music + Demo: now that we've covered the cords of the major scale and corresponding Roman numeral notation, and we've heard what these court sound like in sequence. Let's move on to the main crux of this class Here we're looking at a system for creating court progressions and tonal music. You will see that we have three main categories of courts. Tonic chords. The one and six cords, which are stable. Predominant cords. The four and the two cords, which are precursors to the dominant courts and dominant courts. The full diminished seven and dominant seventh court, which are unstable. This approach was developed and put into practice by the great Baroque composer J. S. Bach. You might be wondering what a system from around 300 years ago has to do with writing music today. Interestingly, music from the 20th and 21st centuries has a lot in common with music from the Baroque era , though you may not be able to hear the connection at first. Listen, there's a direct correlation between the two. The most obvious example of this is a court progression that moves from the one chord to the forecourt to the 5/7 Court and then back to the one court in the key of C major. It sounds like this. There are countless songs that use this progression. So in the key of C major, that's the C major chord to the F major chord to the G dominant chord and then back to the C major court. You may be asking how and why this works. The idea with this approach is to cycle from left to right, from tonic chord to predominant court two dominant chord and then back to the tonic court, always moving from left to right until you reach the dominant chord. And then you cycle back to the tonic court again. Cycling through the possible chords in this way provides a natural sense of tension and resolution to your music. In particular. When you move from the dominant court to the Tonic Court, let me demonstrate a couple of examples of using this writing method at the piano again. We're in the key of C major, so let's start with the tonic chord. I'm gonna choose the one C major court. Oh, Ben, I moved to the predominant court and I'm gonna choose the to court, which in the key of C major is D minor. Then I moved to the dominant court and I'm going to use the 57 Chord, which in this key is G dominant seven. And finally, I make it back to the tonic one court C major. Here's another example. This time I'm going to start with the minor six Chord as my tonic court in the key of C major. That's the a minor court. Then I'm gonna move to my predominant court. Choose the four Chord, which again, in this key is F major. Now, before I get to my dominant court, I'm gonna try and serving a three chord, which in this key is he minor. Now, moving to my dominant chord, choose the G dominant cept again, and finally I make it back to my tonic chord a minor. So let's hear that sequence now on a progression, I added in a three chord T e minor court, you'll see in the core chart that the three chord could be sandwich in between the tonic and predominant court or in between the predominant and dominant court 5. How This Approach is Useful + Tips: if you want to write a piece of music but don't know where to start, this could be a great technique for getting the creative energy flowing. Also, if you've already started in peace and don't know where to take it next, this could be a great technique for organizing and refining your ideas. I remember when I was just starting out writing songs. Often I would have 1/4 to That sounds great, but I had no idea how to develop the court progression. I wish that I had this technique when I was first. Starting out wouldn't save me a lot of frustration with my writing. I want to give you a few tips when trying out. This method first realized that cords evokes specific emotions and listener. For example, major courts on bright and happy minor chords sound somber and dominant. Seventh courts create a feeling of tension those air generalities and can very greatly, depending on where you play the courts on your instrument, how you voice the cords and the greater context of a piece of music. That being said, most pieces of music have a mixture of different court types in them, as you're experimenting with this method and trying different chords out. Ask yourself, Can I evoke a specific kind of emotion with my choices? Can I create a feeling of love, of tension or action with the choices that I make? Also, as your first experimenting with this technique, be sure to always start in and your core progression on the tonic court. This will help give your core progression a sense of closure, since the dominant court is tense and unstable and the tonic chord is stable. Lastly, trying her core progressions out on an instrument so that you could hear it, I supposed to just know taping it or trying to figure it out in your head. This will help you develop your year an important skill to have. 6. Final Thoughts: Before I close this lesson, I wanted to share a few final thoughts. First, remember that rules are meant to be broken. There is plenty of music out there that doesn't fit perfectly into this approach. But this is a great place to start. And from this seller foundation, you can begin to jump off into new and exciting directions. For example, you can start to modulate two different keys that are different but related to the key that start out. It's a more advanced technique, but having a solid understanding of what we're talking about in this lesson today, we'll make that modulating two different keys so much easier. Also, remember to upload your recordings to Dropbox Soundcloud U two and to post the link to your files. The Project Gallery, like I mentioned before, don't be too precious about this assignment were not concerned elements of rhythm or even creating a complete piece of music At this point. The idea with this assignment is to quickly try out an experiment with technique that I share with you today, and to quickly record your experiments. I want you to post a link to at least one recording, but I would love to hear more. But more than try, this technique better in your body will become, and the faster you'll become writing as well. Thank you so much for watching this video today. Let's be and don't forget to have fun.