Writing a new song but feeling stuck when it comes to chord progressions?
Chords are the building blocks of any song, and they can influence the mood of your song – and the mood of the listener.
Like all art, music is subjective, but here are some general associations between chord type and song mood.
Major chords: Brighten the mood of a song
Minor chords: Darken the mood of a song by creating “dissonance”, usually from the minor third or 5th note.
Using both major and minor chords in a song will enrich the texture and depth of a song. You can use either minor chords or major chords strategically to enhance the gravity or hopefulness of a certain lyric.
You can also substitute a minor chord for a major chord in a progression to darken the mood of a piece of music.
For example, in John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads”, the chorus chord progression is:
G D Em C
“Country Roads, take me home, to the place I belong”
G D C G
West Virginia, mountain mama, take me home, country roads.”
The E minor chord in the first line of the song helps lend a note of melancholy to the overall upbeat nature of the chorus, lending the chorus an air of wistful homesickness that makes it a more dynamic song.
There’s a lot more to chords than simply major or minor. Chord variations such as 7ths, 9th, and suspended can also impact the mood of a chord.
A 2010 German study charted several different chord types and their associated emotions.
Here are some general associations with other types of chords:
7th: Cool, jazzy
Dominant 7th: Mysterious
Minor 7th: Emotional, hopeful
There’s no correct or wrong way to write a chord progression – but play around with different combinations of chords until you find the perfect one for your song! You can find every chord in the Fret Zealot app.