LA School of Guitar

Beginning Songwriting

Song Writing for Beginners (first part in a series of three)
Many of my students take guitar lessons with the intention of writing their own original songs. Composing original music and/or lyrics is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have with your instrument. The guitar is practically a song writing machine. I’ll introduce three main concepts to help get you started: Key Center, ambulance Chord Progressions, medicine Song Structure. In this first article, shop we’ll discuss Key Center. Stay tuned next week as we dive into Chord Progressions.

Key Center
What key is your song in? Establishing a clear key center is a good practice for beginning songwriters because it allows you to tap into all of the chord possibilities associated with that key. If you don’t know what a key center is, allow me to explain:

There are 12 Keys. Each Key has 7 chords that fall within that key.

Let’s start with the key of ‘C’ because it’s usually the key most people are familiar with.

C major | D minor | E minor | F major | G major | A minor  | B diminished | C major

It’s important to note that the order of the root notes of these chords also follows a ‘C’ major scale.

Once you know  voicings for all the chords in the key of ‘C’, begin by playing them in order backwards and forwards.  Notice how when you land on the C major chord it feels like you’ve landed on “home base”.  That is what your key center should feel like. It’s your resting place.  Now try going back and forth from C major to every other chord and repeat these 2 chords a few times. Listen for the special relationship or ‘feeling’ that each chord has when it’s played next to the C major. You want to train your ears to recognize this sound.

Once you’ve become familiar with all the chords in the key of ‘C’ it’s time to get creative!  Experiment with writing your own song using only the chords from ‘C’ major key.  Just play around until something starts to sound interesting to you.  Here are some tips:
- Start with a C major chord to establish the key center right off the bat.
- Start with chord sequences that repeat in groups of 2 or 4.  These are the easiest musical phrases to start with.

Once you’re comfortable playing in the key of ‘C’, try exploring some other keys.  I’ve included some common ones below:

Key of ‘F’:
F major | G minor | A minor| Bb major| C major | D minor | E diminished | F major

Key of ‘G’:
G major | A minor | B minor | C major | D major | E minor | F# diminished | G major

Next week we’ll learn more about what to do with all of these chords when we dive into Chord Progressions.


This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 17th, 2012, and is filed under Articles. The tags: , , , , You can follow any responses through the RSS feed.
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