WRITING DIFFERENT CHORD PROGRESSIONS FOR ONE MELODY

Composition Basics Tutorial

By Isaias Garcia

Hi everyone, Isaias here!

So here’s a pretty long (but hopefully rewarding) tutorial on writing different chord progressions for your melody, or theme. Here, I’ve composed a basic melody and went through an entire sketching process of writing progressions from: 1 chord, 2 chords, 3, 4, 8, a 16+ chord progression; downward and upward motion; and finally, extended chords.

This could be a useful way for you to not only experiment with your ideas, but actually build a “toolbox” of chord progressions that could serve different purposes for your video game or film score, or just the overall arc behind your cinematic music. The main idea here is that you don’t have to always lock yourself into 1 chord progression for your melody, so hopefully this tutorial can provide useful tips on how to build good composition habits.

Below is a basic time map of my examples and some discussion, in case you want to jump to certain parts. I do, however, advice that you take the time to watch the entire tutorial so you don’t miss any important references or explanations prior to the example, especially from 4 chords and on:

0:46 – Main theme
5:45 – 1 chord
7:25 – 2 chord progression
8:03 – 3 chord progression
9:27 – 4 chord progression
11:20 – 8 chord progression
15:06 – “Many chords” progression (bordering on counterpoint)
21:03 – Downward motion chord progression
31:06 – Upward motion chord progression
33:53 – Extended chords progression

Starting with an empty canvas can be a daunting experience for any composer, beginner or professional, so although this tutorial is primarily intended for those of you who are starting to experiment and improve your composition skills, I think there might be additional useful tips in the later sections of the tutorial, for those looking to spice up their trailer tracks or cinematic music in general. I hope you enjoy it!

Isaias Garcia

Composer, Web Designer

Isaias is a web designer and film composer, currently working with the Evenant team as a content manager to bring updated and useful content for aspiring composers and musicians. You can check out his music page at isaiasgarcia.ca, and his and his partner’s web design portfolio at ijdesigns.ca.

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