How to Create Chord Progressions That Grab an Audience’s Attention

this is one GREAT article! I got a killer 8-chord progression from tweaking one of the chorus progressions….

The Essential Secrets of Songwriting Blog

The progressions that really connect with audiences are the ones that fluctuate between fragile and strong.

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Keyboard, ear phonesA few days ago I wrote a post that dealt with differences between verse and chorus progressions. In this post, I want to give you some precise examples of how that all works. If you find that coming up with a set of chord progressions that works feels more like hit-or-miss than anything else, try thinking of your chords this way:

THE SONG:

Most songs focus on one chord as the tonic, or “home” chord, and overall, most of the progressions point to that tonic chord as being the most important one, a kind of musical anchor. With that in mind, however, different sections of the song will…

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Two Variations on Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

This time we’ll have a go at some variations on Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. I’ve been improvising over this one for decades, and it’s always fun. When you’re doing variations on a well-known folk melody like this, the process is a little “tighter” than improvisation: you are working with some of the main pitches that the original melody has, but you are connecting them with passing tones, sometimes moving them around a bit in the measure, and sometimes going up or down a 3rd (two frets on the dulcimer) for a bit of harmonic color.

Before we get to the two full variations on the pdf, I’d like to show you a little bit of the process I use — with just the first two measures in TAB on the melody string (tuning DAD):

original:

0—-0—-4—-4—-|5—-5—-4———|

one possible variation:

0—-2—-4—-4—-|5—-7—-4———|

or another:

0—-2-3-4—-7—-|5—-7—-4—-7—-|

So it’s not really that hard: you just keep some of the main notes in place where they should be and throw in a few different ones of your own choosing—connect a few notes of the original with eighth-note connectors. Try it!! The sky’s the limit, really…..see what you can come up with!

Here are my two 12-bar variations in music and TAB, with a blank second page so you can continue on your own. Try playing this as slow and dreamy as you can:

2twinklevariations