How chords can influence the mood of a song

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 

 

Diminished: Dark 

 

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. 

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