Chord progressions are the foundation and basis for pretty much every song ever written.
And the types of chords used in the progression can affect the mood of the song. I’m going to show you how to write your own chord progressions to reflect different moods.
The three moods we’ll focus on are Happy, Sad and more Hopeful. And I’ll be showing these chords in the key of G. But I’ll be using the number system, so you can transpose them to any key you like.
For a lesson on how to do that, click here.
You probably already know that this progression is going to feature major chords. That’s because major chords are ‘happy’ sounding chords.
So to create a happy sounding chord progression you can simply use the I - IV and V chords (or 1-4-5). Each one of these chords is a major chord, and they work together in any order to create a happy sound.
Depending on how you play them, you can also add more energy or enthusiasm to the progression.
Sad chords are minor chords, right? So for a sad-sounding chord progression, we need a minor chord.
And to make it even sadder, we’ll start the progression with the minor chord. This will make our ears think of the minor chord as the ‘home base’ chord.
This progression will start on the vi chord (minor 6th), and looks like this:
vi - IV - I - V
So you can see that while there is only one minor chord in the progression, it creates a sad sound because we are starting with it. This is an extremely common progression in popular music.
To make it even sadder, we can add another minor chord. This time the iii chord (minor 3rd) so it would be:
vi - iii - V - IV
Super moody and sad.
This chord progression combines elements of the previous ones but focuses on creating a really hopeful feeling.
This is another super common progression, and goes like this:
IV - V - vi - I
The sense of progression as we’re stepping up form the major 4 to the minor 6th is like a hopeful lift before it settles back down to the I chord.
These are just a couple of options that you can try to experiment with. The real fun comes when you start making them your own.
Just think about what types of chords you are using and what ‘purpose’ they have. Are they happy chords? Sad chords? What feeling are you trying to convey?
Once you have your progression down, then you can start working on a melody. We have a lesson on that right here.