To move away from classical music on the piano – reading notes all the time – I started to learn about chords. As I mentioned before all songs use chords except atonel music – but that’s a different beast.
A great way to understand Chords and Triads a little better is to play rock songs. This is how I did it at the beginning. I used to mess around with all the rock songs I liked at the time trying to figure them out on the piano.
This lesson will show you how to play 3 rock songs (chord progressions) & show you my method of how to write a song with triads on the piano.
To get all the information in Lesson 2 below FREE just HIT the DOWNLOAD button above 🙂
If you need a refresher on what a triad is and how triads work, please watch Lesson 1 on ‘How to Play a Song on the Piano’.
How To Play And Write Songs With Triads On The Piano.
This lesson/video will show you how to play and write a song with triads on the piano. I have divided the lesson into 2 Parts.
PART 1 -How To Play 3 Common Chord Patterns on the Piano.
To start with I am going to show you how to play some common chord patterns. To get you into playing chords and hearing them.
The II – V Progression (pattern)
Here are 4 examples of how to play the II V chord progression in the key of C major. Dm
2. The I – V – VI – IV Progression
Welcome to one of the most-used chord progression *ever* to my mind. This progression is everywhere. When you play it…Can you hear what the progression sounds like? Don’t worry if you can’t hear anything. The next video is going to show you 25 songs that use this progression. I’m making a list of songs so everyone can see and play this wonderful progression. A cool thing to do for a variation is to make the 2nd chord G to a slash chord
G/B – so you play the G triad in the right hand and make the left hand bass note a B.
3. The II – IV – VI – V Progression
PART 2 – How To Write A Song Using Triads On The Piano.
So now you know what a triad and you have looked into a little what an inversion is. You also know how to play a few common chord progressions. How cool is that!
After playing some songs for a while using chords, you may get the urge to start to create your own songs.
That’s what this next part is about. If you don’t have an urge to write a song don’t worry 25 are coming your way in the next lesson 🙂
If you do have an urge to write a song…. this is how I do it! I am going to show you the way I write a song so that you can do it too. I stress that this is my way and other people I am sure have other ways. I have seen my way work with my students so I thought I would show you here. Let’s get going…
Below are the triads chords in the key of C.
You can see that the numbers are below 1 to 7.
Please note: for this lesson we are not going to use the 7th chord as it is a diminished chord. I will explain this later. For this lesson we are going to use the numbers between 1 – 6.
As I mentioned in the past lesson ‘How to Play Songs with Chords on the Piano’ that all songs have chords. Some have one chord, others have many chords. Most rock songs have two to four chords. So to get your song working you need some chords behind it, under it.
A good way to start this writing process started is just to use a chord progression from these lessons. If you are feeling more adventurous a good way to get your own chord pattern of your song is to randomly pick numbers between 1 and 6. If you are not feeling to confident with this – which is completely normal by the way – start with picking two chords randomly between the numbers 1 and 6. Don’t think too much! Play each chord for 4 beats each and in root position. Don’t be too worried about the inversions yet, just play chords in root position and not think to much just enjoy the sounds. Do you like what you hear? If so then keep playing it. Rely on your gut to tell you if it’s any good.
If you’re feeling more adventurous again, go to 3 or 4 chords to create your pattern. The video at this point will show you a few different chord progressions I just randomly made up to show you the process I use. I just play around with the chords – moving around the numbers – till something pops up.
It’s really hard not to criticize yourself. We all think “Is my song any good?” We all have voices in our heads saying, “That’s not good enough” or “That’s too easy!” To get around this, when I write something and I like it, I write it down or record it on a mp3 player and forget about it. After a week or so I come back to it, play it, and if it still excites me like it did when I wrote it, then I keep it. If it doesn’t give me that feeling again I leave it, but I do put it on my pile of bits and pieces, it may be useful somewhere else. This method helps me figure out if my song is any good. It may help you too.
So to put all this part of the lesson into one sentence; when writing a chord progression for your song, you can randomly pick from the chords in the key to find something that suits… your progression.
Writing a Melody.
Tips on how to write a melody to fit with your chords.
So you have a chord progression you like. How do you write a melody? This is the million dollar question.
Before I go on and give you some tips on how to write your own melody. I would like to point out that there is know wrong or right way to do this. Some people write a melody first, then figure out the chords. Others write the chords progression then figure out the melody. Some are lucky and are able to do both at once. Some people just have the lyrics or a poem they would like to convert to a song. For me it’s either the melody or the chord progression. Remember I am showing you here what works for me to help you.
Approaching writing a melody when you have your chord progression worked out.
When I have my progression worked out when writing a song I often just play the progression and ‘hum’ along with it. I never worry about lyrics or phrasing or how I sound vocally . I just pick a vowel sound or something and try to find something. I rely on my gut to tell me when it’s right.
Approaching writing a chord progression when you have the melody worked out.
When I have the melody roughly worked out in a song I do the same as above. I just mess around with the chords to I find something I like.
Approaching writing a song if I have the lyrics written with no melody or progression.
This way for me is never the case. I find it hard to write lyrics. It’s always the hardest part for me. The music come easy to me, lyrics 🙁 So, I only have a little advice here. I suggest that you get your phrases and words in you lyrics to fit a time signature you like like 4/4 and mess around with either the chord progressions first or major scale of the key your in to find what you want. Listen to the rhythm your words make when you read them aloud and try and to match something to them and when you are ready put in your chord progression and see if it works.
What if I can’t hear a melody or create one?
What I would do hear is pick some chords you like and play them with the left hand in root position at this stage and play the C major scale up and down with 1/4 notes or 1/8th notes and eventually something will come. Some people will find this easy. Others will struggle. Either way just keep playing it and in time something will come depending on how much you play it and how much you want to write a song.
As I said before…If you are stuck trying to find a progression of your own just use one of the progressions I gave you like – the 1- 5 – 6 – 4 or the 6 – 4 – 1 – 5 – to start with, and play/sing up and down the C major scale. You can also try to work out songs you like.
When it comes to lyrics. Well that’s up to you. Like I said before this is not my forte. Talk about life your experiences, love or just whatever thoughts are going through your head.
My last tip is don’t try to write your song in one day. Some days will be more creative than others. I know we all hear stories who many artists just right a track in a few minutes and that makes No 1 on the charts. This does happen but what they don’t mention is all the other days when nothing creative comes and the countless hours practicing/writing to get to that point. When a period of non creativeness happens to me I just work on a phrase or the chorus/verse of a song and don’t think to much of what I don’t have in the song. I write it down or record it into a MP3 devices of some kind and come back to it later. I often walk away from the piano and come back to it other time. Today, most of my writing is done walking my dog or in the car away from the piano. I remember the days when I would come up with an idea with no way of recording it and I would forget it by the time I would reach home. Thanks to modern day technology like phones and MP3 players this changes the game. Keep one handy 🙂 if you are trying to write songs!!
I hope all this helps. Please do remember that all the information in this lesson is how I approach playing chords and composition. I know other people will do it another way and not agree with what I say and that’s cool. I’m just trying to spread the joy of music to people. I know how hard it is to be a musician and I always thought to myself that if I get any good at music I would try and make things easier for people. I have witnessed all the above information work with my students. Hence this site 🙂
Please leave any comments or questions at the website or email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org with your queries. It’s always great to get some feedback 🙂
Take it easy,
Q. What big hit last year used the II – IV – VI – V pattern?
A. ‘Get Lucky’. Daft Punk. They do it in A major though. So that’s : Bm, D, F# m and E.