hi everyone! Thanks so much for joining this week for office hours. As promised, I found the podcast that describes chord changes and how songs can all be categorized according to similar chord change patterns. It wasn’t a 99% invisible podcast….it was a Twenty Thousand Hertz episode!!!! Many thanks to Fiddlehed Carolyn for helping me track it down.
Description of the episode: There are a few specific chord progressions that show up again and again in popular music. Across hundreds of hit songs, the same basic musical formulas have been used by artists ranging from Lynyrd Skynyrd to Lady Gaga, and from Bob Marley to Blink-182. So where did these musical tropes even come from?
Once you start listening for these chord changes in the music around you, you will start to recognize the changes….the first step to playing them!
Sometimes when I’m trying to understand a concept in music that my brain just can’t quite get I like to compare it to something else. For those of you that write fiction or know the mechanics of writing fiction, I like to think of chord progression formulas like the beats of a story. They are predictable and follow a couple of patterns. There’s an opening scene that grabs your attention, a life changing problem that forces the character into something new, and “fun and games” section where you and the character get to know their new world, a crisis that seem impossible, the dark night of the soul, the plan to solve the unsolvable problem, the false victory, and the thrilling conclusion.
You’ve probably read this story a thousand times, just like you’ve heard a thousand different songs with the same chord progression. Just because they follow the same pattern doesn’t mean they are the same story. It’s what you do within this pattern that gives the story (or the song) life and character.