Dave Clews ex­plores mi­nor chord pro­gres­sions

Computer Music - - Contents -

Ma­jor and mi­nor: the age-old strug­gle be­tween good and evil. Well, maybe that’s tak­ing things a bit far, but the point is, re­search sup­ports the idea that ev­ery­body can recog­nise the dif­fer­ence be­tween the up­beat vibe of a ma­jor key and the sad­der feel­ing pro­voked by a mi­nor key.

If you’re set­ting out to com­pose a tune in a par­tic­u­lar mood, how do you know when you’re in a mi­nor key? Af­ter all, three out of the seven chords that be­long to a ma­jor key are, of course, also mi­nor chords. So just be­cause the ma­jor­ity of the chords in a song are mi­nor, you’re not nec­es­sar­ily in a mi­nor key – you might have stum­bled across the three mi­nor chords that are di­a­tonic to a ma­jor key. As long as you like the re­sult, no prob­lem – but it’s al­ways good to know where you stand.

Happy, up­lift­ing ma­jor pro­gres­sions don’t sit too well when star­ing out of rain-drenched win­dows while mourn­ing a lost love, so ro­man­tic bal­lads tend to be in mi­nor keys be­cause of the sense of wist­ful yearn­ing they evoke. Equally, what starts out in your head as an edgy dance tune might run the risk of sound­ing like a chil­dren’s record if you get the key wrong, so it’s good to know which chords to pick from to en­sure you get the right vibe for your track. Be­low, I’ve set out a few tips on how to do just that…

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