Ryan's Blog


January 16, 2016
by 20battyr

Original Songs Using Chords


This unit we learned how many pop songs are created.  We found that they use similar chord structures, inversions and melodies made from chord progression and key.

First we learned about Triads. Triads are 3 notes either played at the same time or played one after the other. Triads can be major or minor depending on the intervals between the notes played.  In major keys the intervals are a 4th then a 5th. For minor triads it is 3rd then a 5th.

Second we learned about chord progressions in a key.  We learned that there were 8 types of chords based on the key that were generally used in songs. Tonic (I), Supertonic (ii), Mediant (iii), Subdominant(IV), Dominant(V), Submediant(vi), Leading note(vii) and Tonic (I).  As shown previous, music uses Roman numerals when writing the chord types and progressions. The Roman numerals that are written in lower case our the minor triads and the numerals are major. We also learned that of these chords I, IV, V are the chords that are most commonly used in songs because they lead well into each other.  Finally we learned that songs always start with the Tonic chord at the beginning and the end.

Thirdly we learned about  inversions. Inversions are used to make it easier to play the chords smoother in the songs.  To make inversions you change the root note of the triad. This is done by switching with the bottom note with the 3rd and the 5th.  There are 3 types of inversions. First the root position (the standard triad), 1st inversions (3rd), 2nd Inversions (5th). An easy way to create inversions by knowing that the 1st inversions has one note floating above and the 3rd inversion has one note floating below.


Finally we learned about making melodies, by using the notes in the chord that you are playing. We learned that making melody in a song you need to use notes from the chord and key to create a simple tune for the chorus and have a more complex note phrases for the verses.



Song 1: Railhouse Blues (instrumental)

Group work

Working in this group was very enjoyable. I don’t usually get to work with novices in music and it was good to test how much I knew by teaching parts to them. However sometimes I think that I may have taken to much of project on bymyself when I should have talked more with my group instead of making some decisions by myself. Overall however, there was good atmosphere and we made good efficient time of our classtime experiment with making the song.



This year in Music class we create a group song using chords of the key of our choosing. We had to use four chords(I,IV,V and vi) from our given key and create 2 verses, 3 choruses with bass,chords and melody.   For this song we decided to make it in the key of C, because it was easier for the more inexperienced musicians of my group to work with.  We first started to create the song by making a chord progression using heavily on the chords of I,IV,V and vi. However, we eventually realized that it was easier to create the song by creating the melody first by experimenting with the keyboard. But while you gain some freedom by using this method, you still need to make sure that the piece starts and ends with the tonic chord. While creating a chord progression is easier in that it allows a more concise choosing of notes, creating the melody with just the key gives you more freedom when creating your song.  We  did this by creating The next step we took was creating a bass line. Creating a bass line can be quite simple. The most easiest approach is by playing the root note of the chord with a rhythm. However I want to test my bandmember to do something a bit more challenging. Instead, we created a walking bass line to create a more rich feeling for our song. By using a walking bassline, it creates a good solid rhythm for the whole song.  Next we created the chord part for our song. This is easiest part to the process, however it gives the overall song more depth and layers. The chord part plays a triad for each chord. We experimented using  inversions in our song to make the song easier to play, but we decided that the chords sounded better in root position. The last would have been to create lyrics for the song, however the melody of this song did not have a good rhythm to put words too, so we decided to make it just instrumental.



To learn my parts for the performance I practice on my piano the melody for the song by itself, with the chords and with the bassline. I practiced again and again until I could play it so it was almost memorized. I then helped with my partners by giving them the chord changes and practicing before school with them to have the song synced well. In performance I think we did quite well. We were synced together and accurate when playing. Towards the end during my solo, the bass line dropped out because I did not make it clear what we were playing. However it still sounded reasonably. Overall I think we gave a good performance.

Song 2: Freedom



Next I made my own personal song: Freedom. I started the song on the guitar with simple chords strummed. Then I moved onto a fingerstyle pattern on the  acoustic guitar. This  created this relaxed feel to the song after. Then I created the melody. I played in the key of C like before, however, all the chords played were the dominant 7 chords(eg C7,F7,D7). Also unlike before I used other chords in the key such as the ii and iii.  Then I played the melody with the chords on the piano to progress the song. Finally I added my singing with lyrics and chords to start the song. I was going to add some fingerpicked guitar, however due to time and recording options I didn’t have chance to do that. To make the lyrics of the songs I try to create a story from my past or someone else. In this case I made the lyrics about the life of an South African during the Soweto Uprising.  I first created the words by using rhyme for every other line. I also create a simple phrase to use as the chorus.  Then using the words put them to a rhythm. Finally I put notes to the words and if necessary change the melody. I usually do this by singing a tune off my head or experimenting on the piano.


Next time

Overall I think that to improve my group song it would have been better to make inversions during the song, and or change the melody so that it was able to be sung with lyrics so we had extra depth to the song. It would also be good to make the chord play play a bass note against to create even more depth in the song.  For my personal song I would have like to added some more acoustic guitar fingerpicking strumming and fingerpicking, as well as brush up on the vocals during the song.


What I learned

In this unit I learned how to put together the different parts of the song together, how to make melodies, make interesting chord progressions and how to write lyrics.

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