Writing Your Own Songs – Where to Start with Chords

So you finally got that guitar or keyboard for Christmas, and with a few chords in the bag you’re ready to jump into the world of writing your own songs.

But where do you start? We’re going to give you a bit of guidance on how to find some chords that work together, so you can get experimenting!

This is all going to be based on something called the Major Scale. This is the main scale and set of notes which is used in the majority of western popular music. It is comprised of 7 distinct notes, and it’s these notes we’re going to use to find our chords.

The Basics

All songs are centered around what’s called a key, this is the central note/chord of the song, and all the other notes/chords in the song relate back to the key. Most commonly this relation is based on the major scale.

For this beginners guide, we’re going to focus on 3 keys, G major, C major, and D major.

The major scale in these three keys is as follows:

C major: C D E F G A B C

G major: G A B C D E F# G

D major: D E F# G A B C# D

So, how do you use this to write songs?

Easy! Each note in the major scale has a chord attached to is that will be either a minor or major chord.

It goes in the same order every time, despite the key:

major – minor – minor – major – major – minor – minor

So, to go back to our three keys, their associated chords would be:

C major: Cmaj – Dmin – Emin – Fmaj – Gmaj – Amin – Bmin – Cmaj

G major: Gmaj – Amin – Bmin – Cmaj – Dmaj – Emin – F#min – Gmaj

D major: Dmaj – Amin – F#min – Gmaj – Amaj – Bmin – C#min – Dmaj

(note: the 7th chord of each key is technically a minor 7th b5, but that’s a bit of a tough chord when you’re just starting out, so don’t hesitate to use a normal minor there!)

So how do you make use of this?

It’s really simple! Any chord within your chosen key is free to use! Experiment with the chords in different orders and find sounds you enjoy! (Tip: Try always starting out with the first note, the key, and expand from there!)

Happy Writing!

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