2. Look up the relative minor.
3. Go one step to the right and/or one step to the left in the Circle of Fifths. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circle_of_fifths
There, you have the most popular and pleasant-sounding chord progressions in any key. If you want funkier progressions, go further in the circle.
Edit: The chords sound more jazzy when you go counter-clockwise (it is the circle-of-fourths). Thanks for the correction, @gnaritas.
For example, C-G is a fifth if you go up, or a fourth if you go down. C-F is a fourth if you go up, or a fifth if you go down. So it can be a circle of fourths clockwise or counterclockwise.
I think what you are trying to say is that going clockwise gives you successive dominants, while going counterclockwise gives you successive subdominants.
Great, but we're discussion the circle of fifths and fourths, not the intervals. You've moving the goal post. A fifth and a fourth are the same interval, but in the context of a key they are not, thus the circle is only fourths in one direction. You can't decide if an interval is a fifth or a fourth without knowing the key.
> I think what you are trying to say is that going clockwise gives you successive dominants, while going counterclockwise gives you successive subdominants.
I'm not trying to say it, I said it.
Pick any note on the circle, it's fifth (dominant) is directly clockwise and it's fourth (sub-dominant) is directly counterclockwise. Counterclockwise is always the fourth of the note you're moving from.
As a side note, movement by fourths sounds more jazzy or "warm" because the interval of a 4th is itself a "warm" sounding interval. So if you want a warm sounding chord, slap a 4th in there.
In practice this often means adding an 11th (an octave above). So let's say you have a standard C7 chord (C E G Bb), if you want to make it sound jazzy/warm then add the F above.
If you want to demonstrate how warm a 4th is (or to get the feel for any interval) stack them up and play them together - C F Bb Eb
It's my belief this is an oversimplification - many of these songs are written in different keys, which can create different sounds and feelings of songs. Sure, you can transpose them to a common key (as they've done here), but at that point, it's not really the same song anymore.
Also, I've found that chord progressions can be quite flexible if only 'snip-its' of certain songs are being used, namely the standard chorus or verse. Much of the genius of songwriting comes in transitions or bridges.
I'm not denying this is not entertaining, and it works to an extent, but I would say that there is a degree to which this hinges on the widespread renown of these songs. It's not so easy to say they would have become so popular if they were all written in the same key, and not the one of the original artist.
Pop music is frequently spoken down upon, that it's 'talent-less' or 'garbage', but it really is like any other expert discipline - if it were so easy, there wouldn't be such a saturation of experts dominating the field. My opinion most of the talent is in production - Dr. Luke, Red One, Max Martin, etc.
Pop music and folk songs use common chord progressions with variations for the simple reason that such songs are easy to pick up and play. To that end, pop music is the opposite of an expert discipline, it is a form that is accessible to people who want to play music. That doesn't mean that a pop song can't be complicated or have lots of technical finesse, but that wouldn't be the typical kind of pop song people play.
Skilled musicians tend to be timbre-deaf; In addition, classically-trained musicians are invariably groove-deaf. They mentally process melody and harmony very efficiently, which is tremendously useful but inevitably means discarding a lot of musical information that is highly meaningful to the lay listener.
If you listen with a musician's ear to most pop records, you hear a simple melody, a simple chord progression, maybe some simple harmonies, all at a fixed tempo and time signature. If you listen with a pop songwriter's ear, you hear hooks and earworms and prosody, you hear a perfectly honed and polished lyric and a melody that carries the meaning of that lyric without a wasted beat. If you listen with a producer's ear, you hear the product of sixty years of evolution in creating sonic landscapes that sound big and rich and engaging on anything from a nightclub soundsystem to a pocket radio.
In pop production, you've got to grab someone's attention in ten seconds, engage them in thirty seconds and move their emotions in three minutes. When most of your potential listeners are scarcely paying attention, that's fiendishly difficult. Pop has it's own virtuosi, an elite of songwriters and topliners and producers who can tell a story and convey a feeling with haiku-like efficiency.
Listen closely and you'll hear:
I like the dichotomy of songwriter vs. producer - but I would guess it isn't always so discrete - i.e., production and mastering is essential to conveying the emotions and moods of the songwriting. In fact, I would argue the lyrics are often overemphasized in analysis - they are more of a vessel for tones and cadence of the song.
I don't think it's in the list of songs analyzed here, which is unfortunate.
Right now, if I give it I V vi IV, it'll show me "Complicated" by Avril Lavigne. While that song does contain those chords, in that order, they function very differently - because the actual progression is vi IV I V.
Part of the problem is that sometimes when people analyze a section of a song, they include a pick up, etc. Other times the song doesn't have a strong resolution, so it's not clear where a progression begins or ends.
We thought this was the best compromise for now. The tool will show you all songs that start with the progression, as well as songs that use the progression in a phase shifted manner (which is also interesting).
Thanks for the reply. And for making this. I'm a huge fan.
EGs: I I I6 V V V V7 I vs. I I I Imaj7 IV IV IV IV6 I
Sixth chords move up a fifth, seventh chords move down a fifth. (the seventh of a chord falls, the sixth rises - one can also view the IV7 chord in blues music that moves to the I to be a IV+6)
The fundamental tetrad concept introduces the idea of "homophonic chords" - for example, a major sixth chord and a minor seventh chord have the exact same pattern, and the designation depends on context. Often, two designations exist in a superposition until it is settled later on (or never).
Also interesting is chordal metamorphosis, where for example a subtle shift in notes can modulate you into a new mode -for example, V morphing into III7 by chromatically altering a note, taking you from major mode to relative minor. (and this particular V III7 change is a nice way to make a strong chord change when stuck on an already strong chord)
EG: Hallelujah - |I |IV V |vi |IV |V |III7 |vi |
Music theory is a very interesting topic, and I've arrived at models that do a pretty good job of explaining the underworkings, allowing me to appreciate the beauty of songs analytically as well as emotionally.
When I search for any song, I only get the chord progressions of an excerpt, not for the whole song. Question: do you have the chord progressions for the whole song stored?
If yes, why don't you show them? It would be great to use in a fake book...
If no, what did you normally chose? Verse, Chorus? Sometimes the musically most interesting things happen in the Bridge... Why didn't you find the full progression - just for time reasons? I think if you have mostly Chorus progressions, it's quite difficult to deduce general statistical information about "all of popular music", wouldn't you agree?
One minor thing is that there could be a better way to browse by songs than just the top 10 and 10 most recent. Most of my searches come up empty, so I'd like some way to browse the list of songs for something I do like rather than to keep drawing blanks.
include(User.php): failed to open stream: No such file or directory Click play to enjoy a little slice of awesome. Be sure to check out Rick Astley's dance moves in the video...