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Thread: Chord Progression Generator

  1. #1
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    Smile Chord Progression Generator

    Hello all! I am a novice guitar player with high aspirations! Due to the time I spend supporting my family with a full time job, taking post-grad classes online, and other side projects, I have very little time to practice. Although my shredding ambitions go no further than becoming a fireside crooner, I do have a passion for writing lyrics. However, I have no resource for generating interesting music or progressions to complement my lyrics.

    I did some research, and found a table of chord degrees and a map that lists “acceptable progressions.” My friends and I would like to create an application to dynamically generate chord progressions based on that table and map. However, since I have limited experience with music theory, I feel like I need more information before we begin.

    I am hoping I can get some opinions from this forum to direct the development efforts.

    First: I noticed that the VII/vii chord doesn’t get used much other than in Blues/Jazz music. Is that assumption correct?

    Second: What are some popular chord alterations that would make the most sense to include (e.g. 5ths, 6ths, 7ths, augmenteds, sustains, etc)

    Third: This map (http://goo.gl/XCG4N) shows some progressions that are supposed to sound “good.” Can anyone tell me if there are other “algorithms” per se that would work for generating progressions?

    I really appreciate any help I can get. I hope this post doesn’t sound too spammy. When we’re done with the app, we can send a copy to anyone who helps out.

    Thanks,

    Jason Ryberg

  2. #2
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slyckstyx View Post
    Hello all! I am a novice guitar player with high aspirations! Due to the time I spend supporting my family with a full time job, taking post-grad classes online, and other side projects, I have very little time to practice. Although my shredding ambitions go no further than becoming a fireside crooner, I do have a passion for writing lyrics. However, I have no resource for generating interesting music or progressions to complement my lyrics.

    I did some research, and found a table of chord degrees and a map that lists “acceptable progressions.” My friends and I would like to create an application to dynamically generate chord progressions based on that table and map. However, since I have limited experience with music theory, I feel like I need more information before we begin.

    I am hoping I can get some opinions from this forum to direct the development efforts.

    First: I noticed that the VII/vii chord doesn’t get used much other than in Blues/Jazz music. Is that assumption correct?
    Yes the vii chord is the diminished chord which does not find it's way into Pop, Rock or Country that much.
    Second: What are some popular chord alterations that would make the most sense to include (e.g. 5ths, 6ths, 7ths, augmenteds, sustains, etc)

    Third: This map (http://goo.gl/XCG4N) shows some progressions that are supposed to sound “good.” Can anyone tell me if there are other “algorithms” per se that would work for generating progressions?

    I really appreciate any help I can get. I hope this post doesn’t sound too spammy. When we’re done with the app, we can send a copy to anyone who helps out.

    Thanks,

    Jason Ryberg
    I do not know of a software program like you envision. There are so many variables good luck writing code for what you want. Chord progressions in a nut shell. I think it helps if we think of this as if a piano player was playing the melody notes with his right hand and the chords with his left hand. As long as both hands share some of the same notes, can be in different octaves - just as long as they share some of the same notes - both hands will sound good together.

    The melody line and the chord line are in harmony when both share like notes. Everything revolves around sharing like notes. Why do we need to change chords anyway? When the melody moves on to notes not found in the chord we fall out of harmony and our ears tell us to find a way to get back into harmony. That can be accomplished two ways. 1. Add a chord that has some of the new melody notes in it's makeup. Or 2. Insert the needed melody note into the old chord as an extension, or whatever, ..... so you are still in harmony.

    OK that out of the way the I IV V chords have every note in the tonic I's scale. So one of those three chords can harmonize what is happening with the melody as long as it stays in I's scale. Same for ii V I or i iv v. That is the bare bone, basic, dirt simple theory of harmonization. Does it get more complicated, sure, but it need not. By the time you learn the basic stuff you will know how to get to the complicated stuff. Here is the rest of the story.... The following govern the movement of the melody through the rest, tension, climax and return to rest movement each verse can/should take.

    • The I major chord can go anywhere it wants to in the progression, however, when you move to the I chord you release all the tension you have built up (tension is a good thing). So do you want to resolve, dump all your tension and return to rest?
    • The ii minor chord is a sub-dominant chord and it's task in life is to move to a dominant chord.
    • The iii minor chord is a great chord to take you somewhere else. It likes to drag the vi cord into this movement.
    • The IV major chord is also a sub-dominant chord and it's task in life is to move to a dominant chord. Notice ii and IV are both sub-dominant chords, thus they can substitute for each other.
    • The V major chord is a dominant chord and it's task in life is to move to the I tonic chord.
    • The vi minor chord is the relative minor chord - the I is the relative major chord - the vi likes to move to a sub-dominant cord, i.e. the ii or IV.
    • The vii minor diminished chord is also a dominant chord. Where the V chord is also dominant the V chord likes to move to the I tonic chord and when you add a b7 note and make the V chord a V7 chord it likes to move to the I tonic chord RIGHT NOW. So... if you want to resolve the progression and return to the I tonic chord use a V7, however, if you want to take a more leisurely road back to the I tonic use the vii chord. It like the iii likes to take you somewhere else. The vii-iii-vi-ii-V7-I makes a great turn-a-round progression and is used in Gospel quite a lot.

    Now you can have the chord moving anywhere you like and any chord within the same key will sound good with any other chord within the same key - so as long as you use the seven chords for that key nothing is going to sound really bad. But will the chord placement harmonize the melody being played at that moment in the song? In addition to sounding good we need the story to move along within the verse. This movement is accomplished with how the chords are placed within the verse. The movement of the story from (I) rest to (IV) tension to (V7) climax and then back to (I) resolution and rest is accomplished by the placement of the chords (I IV V I or ii V I or I IV vii iii vi IV V7 I). The harmonization of the melody is accomplished by the sharing of like notes. It's a balancing act between the two, i.e. you need the story to move within the verse and you need the melody and chords to sound good with each other. Good luck writing code for that.

    Do a Google on Harmony - specifically how to harmonize a melody - should get you started. Look here; www.musictheory.net go to Lessons then common chord progressions for more of the story. The following goes into detail how you can/could go about finding the right chords for the song Mary had a little lamb. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vrDh0OFDCAk

    For some more of the story go to the next post in the string.
    Good luck.
    Last edited by Malcolm; 12-29-2010 at 02:18 AM.

  3. #3
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    Some of the rest........

    The following is a basic format you could use to write any song. Use as much of this as you need.
    • Decide on a scale. Yes just one. I sing in D if this is going to be my song I'd write it with D scale notes. If you do not have any vocalist in mind C is easy - no sharps or flats. OK I want to write a Pop, Rock or Country song so Major scale and major chords will be a good starting point.
    • Decide on a chord progression. Yes one of the cookie cutter progressions will be fine to get started. You can flesh it out later. Since this is my song I'd use a I IV V7 I or D, G, A7, D progression.
    • Now the rest is chicken or egg. I chose lyrics, chords then melody. You may want to go melody then chords and leave lyrics for last. It's your song do it the way you want. I'll give the lyrics first method.
    • Get the story into verse format. Four line verse is a good format. You will need three verses and a chorus. Chorus is the hook, what you want them singing tomorrow. Rhyme or not up to you.
    • Place your cookie cutter progression over the lyric words. This is my first draft approach. Start the verse with the I chord. Move to the IV chord near the ending of the first line. Continue with the IV into the second line and near the end of the second line bring in the V7 chord and then quickly end the 2nd line with the I chord. Repeat this for the 3rd and 4th line. Might as well use that same format for the other verses and what the heck use it for the chorus - remember you are doing a first draft.
    • Play that progression and move the chords around to where they match the lyric words. Move them a little one way or the other - your ear will tell you.
    • Now it's melody time. I go to the keyboard for this - at any rate - one melody note per lyric word. Ma-ry and Lit-tle will take two melody notes.
    • Which notes. Chord tones. The chord's pentatonic will give you three chord tones and two safe passing notes - more than enough to build a melody that will harmonize with the chords you are using. Yes your melody notes and your chord notes should share like notes - when they do you harmonize both the melody and the chord line. I find knowing the progression first then finding melody notes from within the chords lets me keep the chord progression's journey from rest, tension, climax, resolution and return to rest the verse should travel intact. Now I only have to find harmonizing notes for my melody. Here is what I do. Recite the lyric word and see what chord tone sounds best, i.e. over the C chord you've got the C, E or G notes - and let's say the word in question is "now" say now and listen to the C note - what do you think? Try the E note, then the G note. I'd pick the C or E the G does not work for me. Which one sounds best to you? That's how I build the melody - what sounds good over the lyrics. What flows over several words - a phrase. Remember to pause - gotta get that rhythm into the song a line of notes is noise, a melody that flows and has pauses so the melody can breath is your goal. We speak in phrases, your song should be sung in phrases.
    • That will get you a lead sheet, treble clef, chords and lyrics. A bass clef would be nice or just leave it as a lead sheet and let the bassist compose the bass line - how the chord tones are played - as he/she feels best.

    Sit back open a bottle of your favorite beverage and start on fleshing out your first draft.

    That is just about all that is necessary for a simple song. Good luck writing code for that.
    Last edited by Malcolm; 12-29-2010 at 01:12 PM.

  4. #4
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    You are pretty much my favorite person right now. I have never had harmony/progressions/tonality explained to me so simply and so completely.

    I have already cracked open my favorite beverage, so I cannot eloquently thank you as well as I should. We'll be sure to let you know when we're done developing so you can see how your advice was implemented!

  5. #5
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    Talking

    ZS001 by Zoabis is a VST for PC and Mac, and only costs €20. It's the best chord progression software I have tried.

    It has an additional two modes - Key Detection and Key Correction. Very nice software.



    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Zoabis/2347602732550 94

    Demos can be downloaded:

    https://rapidshare.com/files/4065906..._OS_X_DEMO.zip

    https://rapidshare.com/files/2945217...ndows_DEMO.zip

    It can be used in 7 colours but green is my favorite:



    How to use it:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qrACw...=youtu.be&hd=1

  6. #6
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    [QUOTE=Malcolm;145631]Some of the rest........

    Sit back open a bottle of your favorite beverage and start on fleshing out your first draft.

    Both of these responses had a wealth of information in them Malcolm. You should post this as an article on the opening page of IBM. How is the classical guitar going?

  7. #7
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=gilcarleton;149940]
    Quote Originally Posted by Malcolm View Post
    ...........Malcolm. How is the classical guitar going?
    The classical is out on the stand, no dust on it. The music stand has the book Getting into Finger Style on it, open to page 21. Still trying to get my p, i, m, a flowing. But, loving it and it does get most of my practice time these days. Autumn Leaves --- one of these days.....

    Thanks for asking.
    Last edited by Malcolm; 04-27-2012 at 01:38 PM.

  8. #8
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    Thanks Malcolm

    Wow Malcolm! You're a life saver! I really can't thank you enough.

    Just like OP Jason, I am just getting started and need some major help with creating some killer music for my lyrics. I've always been great at coming up with lyrics, but my tracks haven't always been so hot. I happened to stumble on to this thread and it is just what I need to get the ball rolling in the right direction. I can't thank you enough.

    - Sara

    -------------------------------
    Always getting great tab ideas from top100songsnow.com

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