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Make Your Piano Chord Progressions More Exciting

Jordan Leibel  /  Songwriting / Jul 26

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As you probably know by now, most popular songs use a variation of four chords.

Those are the 1-5-6-4 chords. The reason so many songs use them is simply that they sound great together. There’s nothing wrong with it.

But it can get a little … boring.

So Jordan is back with an awesome tip on how you can make your progression more exciting by adding in an additional chord that is OUTSIDE they original key. (The fancy name for this is non-diatonic)

The “Exciting” Chord

The chord we’re adding is the Major 3rd chord. So in the key of C Major, this chord will be an E Major chord. It will contain a G#, which is NOT in the key of C. But that’s what makes it sound so exciting.

This E chord works beautifully as a transition chord between the 4 and the 6 chords, so it could lead to the F or to the Am. (This is because of secondary dominance, but that’s a bigger lesson).

This progression has been used by David Bowie, Radiohead, Lady Gaga, Sting and Twenty One Pilots.

So try it out!

Applying It In Any Key

Just remember to find the Major 3rd chord of the key you are in. So if you’re in the key of F, it would be an A Major chord. If you’re in G if would be a B Major chord etc.

It is such a great, unique sound, that I’m sure it will inspire you to come up with your own progressions and melodies.

Have fun playing the piano!


Lisa Witt has been teaching piano for 19 years and in that time has helped hundreds of students learn to play the songs they love. Lisa received classical piano training through the Royal Conservatory of Music, but she has since embraced popular music and playing by ear in order to accompany herself and others.

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