figuring out the song chords by hearing them-2

Discussion in 'Guitar Lessons, Tutorials & Tips' started by anuranjan, Aug 18, 2005.

  1. anuranjan

    anuranjan New Member

    Another popular song structure is simply one verse following another. Many Bob Dylan songs, such as "All Along the Watchtower" and "Tangled Up in Blue" use this style. Neil Young's "After the Gold Rush" and "Hey Hey My My" are two other good examples.

    Why is it important to be able to recognize the structure of a song? Well, the most obvious reason is that when you are trying to figure out a song, you only have to figure out a part once. If you can say, "This is the verse," then you will not have to puzzle out the chords for a second (or third, fourth, etc.) time. Likewise with the choruses. So, for instance, instead of sounding out the chords to all ten verses of "Shelter From the Storm," you simply decrypt the first verse and then you're home free.

    But perhaps a more important reason to familiarize yourself with popular song structures is to prepare yourself for sitting in with people and playing an unfamiliar piece. When you're jamming with some friends and someone introduces a song that many people might not know, you know have some common ground on which to work out an arrangement. If the person tells you that each verse is so many measures long and followed by a chorus of so many measures, you don't have to worry about not knowing the song - you'll learn it very quickly and will find yourself enjoying the experience instead of dreading it.

    Musically, songs consist of chord progressions. This is not a universal truth, but a fairly convenient generalization. The Talking Heads' song "Houses in Motion," for example, consists solely of an Em7 chord, but if you simply sit and strum an Em7, I can pretty much guarantee that what you're playing will not sound remotely like the song. What makes this particular song work are the various riffs and rhythm patterns (vocal as well as instrumental) that the band members are tossing about - it's almost like a game of catch. Again, you will always be able to find exceptions to any generalization in music and music theory.

    But the generalizations will help you immensely if (a) you know them and (b) you can recognize them. This is where your practice with interval recognition can pay big dividends.

    In order to help us out, I'm going to set out a few of our primary and secondary chord charts for the five major keys guitarists tend to play (bonus points for noticing that we're using the given scale's minor seventh and the root of the VII chord!): KEY I II III IV V VI VII
    C C Dm Em F G Am Bb
    G G Am Bm C D Em F
    D D Em F#m G A Bm C
    A A Bm C#m D E F#m G
    E E F#m G#m A B C#m D

    I - IV - V (the blues becomes rock and roll)
    Okay, most of you are familiar with what is known as "twelve bar blues." This is the format used in the vast majority of blues songs. In a nutshell, the verse of a song (and it's usually all in verses) is twelve measures long. Each measure (marked by a "/") is four beats ("-") and follows this pattern:

    I - - - / - - - - / - - - - / - - - - / IV - - - / - - - - /
    I - - - / - - - - / V - - - / IV - - -/ I - - - / - - - -/

    So if someone tells you that a song is twelve bar blues in A (as in "A"nother blues song!), you know that it will play out as follows:

    A - - - / - - - - / - - - - / - - - - / D - - - / - - - - /
    A - - - / - - - - / E - - - / D - - -/ A - - - / - - - -/

    A popular variation of the twelve bar blues changes the first four measures like this:

    I - - - / IV - - - / I - - - / I7 - - - /

    Now, if someone wants to play this version in D (another "D"amn blues song), we just fill in the appropriate chords:

    D - - - / G - - - / D - - - / D7 - - - / G - - - / - - - - /
    D - - - / - - - - / A - - - / G - - -/ D - - - / - - - -/

    Pretty simple, isn't it? This progression was used a lot in the early days of rock. Many of Chuck Berry's songs follow this pattern. And it's still used these days by all sorts of artists like the BoDeans ("Good Work"), or with slight variations (in this case, substituting the final IV with an addition measure of V) by Bruce Springsteen ("Pink Cadillac") and the Rolling Stones ("Respectable").

    I - IV - V (the eternal medley...)
    Another hugely popular use of I - IV - V is the "Louie Louie" progression:

    I - IV - / V - IV - / and on and on and on...

    I don't know how many songs use this - I've long lost count. "Hang On Sloopy," "Twist and Shout," "La Bamba" are but a few. An interesting variation on this uses the VII instead of the V:

    I - IV - / VII - IV - / and on and on and on...

    If you play this in E (E-A-/D-E-/), you might recognize it as "R O C K in the U S A," "That's What I Like About You" or "Wild Thing" depending on how fast or slow you're playing. Again, that's just to name a few.

    I - VII - IV (look, I'm a rock star...)
    Perhaps no other progression sings out "rock and roll" as much as this one. It's usually done in a one-measure-apiece style such as this:

    I - - - / VII - - - / IV - - - / I - - - /

    No matter what key you decide to try this out, you'll recognize some song. "Taking Care of Business," "Sweet Home Alabama," "Take The Money and Run," the verses of "Sympathy for the Devil" - it all depends on how you vary the rhythm. :rock:
  2. anuranjan

    anuranjan New Member

    In case anyone likes the article could i have some reps please......
    bjr likes this.

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