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" Secrets of Exciting Chords & Chord Progressions!"

 

Piano keyboard with music notesDuane Shinn at piano

 

- Week 25 -

 

Chord Progressions Part Six

"What You Need To Know About Musical Form"

 

 

 

      Chord progressions come in sections, like one room in a house. You can put several different rooms together to make a big house, or you can live in a one room house. Just like people. In most 3rd world countries people live in one room houses -- which means, of course, that much of the world lives in one-room houses.

 Musical form is like a house...

     Those of us who live in the West generally live in multi-room houses.

Music form is like a multi-room house

     But there are also musical houses -- we call them songs -- that are built out of several different rooms -- several different chord progressions. Some of them, like mansions and castles, go on and on and get quite involved.

Songs are musical houses

     But most songs are like many modest houses -- they have 2 or 3 rooms, sometimes 4 -- built using 2 or 3 or 4 different chord progressions.

     Each "room" in a musical house is called a theme, or a "motif". The first theme is always called "A". The next theme is called "B", the next theme is called "C", and so on. Most songs only have 2 or 3 themes, but these themes often repeat.

     For example, let's say we have a chord progression that goes like this:

C    Am7    Dm7    G7

...and then it repeats those same 4 chords...

and then we have another chord progression that goes like this:

Gm7    C7    F    Fm7    Bb7    Eb     G7

...and then the first chord progression is used again as the song ends.

This song would have a musical form of A, A, B, A -- main theme, repeat of main theme, contrasting theme, main theme.

Theme

Theme

Contrast

Theme

This form is known as A A B A musical form.

If the song went like this:

Theme

Contrast

Theme

...it would be known at A B A musical form.

    The "B" section of a song is sometimes called the "bridge", or the "release", or the "chorus". These terms usually mean the same thing -- depending upon the form used.

Can you guess what this might be called?

Theme

Contrast

Theme

Contrast

Theme

Contrast

Theme

Contrast

Right you are! A B A B form. This is also known as "verse-chorus" form.

    Most popular songs fall into one of these forms:

A    B    A

A    A    B    A

A    B    A    C    A

A    B    A    B

     Why should you care?

     Because if you know songs are constructed this way, you can look at songs with smart eyes -- you know what to look for, and once you determine the form, you have a "mental map" of the song -- you're not just wandering from chord to chord anymore.

     In addition, most songs are proportional. That is -- 4 bars of section A, then 4 bars of section B, then another 4 bars of section A, and so on. You will find TONS and TONS of popular songs that are 32 bars long in A    A    B    A     form -- 8 bars of theme A, 8 bars of theme A repeated, then a bridge of 8 bars, finishing with 8 bars of theme A.

     Does that give you an advantage knowing that?

     It gives you a HUGE advantage because you know what to look for, and you know that if you learn theme A you have automatically learned 75% of the song! All that remains is to learn the 8 bars of the bridge, and you've got it!

    And that's why you need to learn about form.

    In this newsletter we obviously can't get into music theory and harmony any deeper because of space, but you could do yourself a huge favor by taking a course in theory and harmony. Click here to find out how much you could benefit from knowing all that!

  

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