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  #1  
Old 02-15-2017, 02:18 PM
DASmusic DASmusic is offline
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Default Dissonant chords and original key

I have a song I'm writing.. unfortunately the lyrics and chorus chords came first. Now I'm stumped trying to write the chords for the verses to match the chorus. Nothing seems to flow together.

The chords used in the chorus are very dissonant, which is the sound I was looking for. But the problem is, I'm lost as to where to progress from that. The chords are D, Bb, C, A.. I don't even know what key I'm in to even make a move. Everything I've attempted to play sounds completely horrible in combination with that progression.

Any help to point me in the write direction would be greatly appreciated.

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  #2  
Old 02-15-2017, 03:55 PM
Mr. Jelly Mr. Jelly is online now
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Try using a simple F to C. Just a guess.
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Old 02-15-2017, 04:06 PM
zhunter zhunter is offline
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I'm picking key of D. Which makes your chords pretty standard natural minor derived chords. Think Why Does Love Have to Be so Sad, Along the Watchtower (no V chord) etc.

So chords in the key of D are a place to start.

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Old 02-15-2017, 04:26 PM
stanron stanron is offline
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Starting on D and ending on the A chord strongly suggests some kind of key of D. Playing through those chords I immediately went to G, another chord and then to Bb and thought that sounded good, and promptly forgot what the other chord was. I don't find these chords dissonant. They are not simple single major scale chords but you have an interesting start.
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Old 02-15-2017, 04:27 PM
DASmusic DASmusic is offline
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Thanks. I was kinda figuring D as well. I might have found something just goofing around. D, C, B/G, Bb, A. Just walks down the chromatic scale. It works musically. We'll see how it sounds with the lyrics thrown over top though

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Old 02-15-2017, 04:40 PM
DASmusic DASmusic is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stanron View Post
Starting on D and ending on the A chord strongly suggests some kind of key of D. Playing through those chords I immediately went to G, another chord and then to Bb and thought that sounded good, and promptly forgot what the other chord was. I don't find these chords dissonant. They are not simple single major scale chords but you have an interesting start.
Thanks. Sorry didn't see this til after I replied.
I'm gonna keep trying different things. I went to G too and it just didn't sound right. Could've been the chords that followed behind G though. Which I can't remember, that was early this morning.

To me, just the chorus alone almost has an Alice Cooper vibe to it. Which is what I'm going for overall. The lyrics are dark, so I was looking for that dark, unique sound.

Think of the Ballad Of Dwight Frye. That E, G, D, C just gives it an open, rough sound. It's distinctive.

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Old 02-15-2017, 05:07 PM
amyFB amyFB is offline
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I played inversions of your chorus chords up around frets 5-9 and found these chords just following along afterwards without any forethought for another part, be it verse or bridge.

Dm, Gm, A7, Dm


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Old 02-16-2017, 05:14 AM
JonPR JonPR is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DASmusic View Post
Thanks. I was kinda figuring D as well. I might have found something just goofing around. D, C, B/G, Bb, A. Just walks down the chromatic scale. It works musically.
Yep - classic line.
I assume you mean "G/B", btw (G chord with B bass). The Bb could also be Gm with Bb bass.

As a bass line, it's the same sequence as the verse of the Beatles' 'Dear Prudence' (among many others). I.e., that one uses D/C rather than a plain C chord.

You could also check out Dylan's 'Make You Feel My Love', which adds the maj7 to the descending line. In D it would be D - A/C# - Am/C - G/B - Gm/Bb - D/A. (As with the Beatles, he wasn't the first to use the idea.)

Either descending line makes it sound smoother or more logical than your original D-Bb-C-A - which doesn't mean "better" of course . (D-Bb-C-A also has some nice voice-leading, aside from the jumpy root movement.)

As Mr Jelly says, you could add F to the mix (another chord borrowed from D minor). Dear Prudence does that too...
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Old 02-16-2017, 05:56 AM
DASmusic DASmusic is offline
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Yeah sorry, G/B is what I meant.

I tried throwing an F chord in there and overall it makes the chord progression sound good. It's just the combination with the chorus (D, Bb, C, A) that's throwing it off.

I don't know if it's my tempo approach or what.
The chorus is rather fast on the chord changes. I don't know music well, I guess it'd be like a half measure?
Think of it like Layla, it hits each chord in the chorus once. Same idea here. As matter of fact, my "original chorus" was D, Bb, C, D.. But changed it due to similarities with Layla.


I also really like the chords Amy suggested. It has that dark kinda sound I'm looking for when sung with my lyrics. But again, it goes into the chorus great.. But getting out of the chorus is the problem... It seems forced. Idk why. It could be my tempo or my mind is trying to hear something else and playing tricks on me.

I've never had this trouble before. Lol.
I can hear this great song in the works, but can't find it.


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  #10  
Old 02-16-2017, 12:36 PM
JonPR JonPR is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DASmusic View Post
Yeah sorry, G/B is what I meant.

I tried throwing an F chord in there and overall it makes the chord progression sound good. It's just the combination with the chorus (D, Bb, C, A) that's throwing it off.

I don't know if it's my tempo approach or what.
The chorus is rather fast on the chord changes. I don't know music well, I guess it'd be like a half measure?
Think of it like Layla, it hits each chord in the chorus once. Same idea here. As matter of fact, my "original chorus" was D, Bb, C, D.. But changed it due to similarities with Layla.


I also really like the chords Amy suggested. It has that dark kinda sound I'm looking for when sung with my lyrics. But again, it goes into the chorus great.. But getting out of the chorus is the problem... It seems forced. Idk why. It could be my tempo or my mind is trying to hear something else and playing tricks on me.

I've never had this trouble before. Lol.
I can hear this great song in the works, but can't find it.


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What do have at the moment for the verse? amyFB's chords? I can see them fitting well (standard i-iv-V-i in the parallel minor), and the chorus ought to link to them well enough. The A would go to Dm quite naturally - but maybe it's just too neat?
I just tried playing that chorus through a few times (Layla-style ), and I think following the last A with a G (major) helps make a breathing space. (If you're using the descending D-C-B-Bb-A line, then a G is the obviously logical follow-on.)
Gm also sounds good, and either would go to Dm, IMO. Or you could put another A in again, for a bit more tension before the Dm.

The other thing I'd try is changing how long each chord lasts (in the verse). It's become a really boring convention in rock music to make each chord last the same time (normally 2 beats each or 4 beats each).

Another option would be to go to a different key for the verse (Layla can be your inspiration here too ). E.g., after the last A of the chorus, go to an E chord. E can then go to Am, for a verse in Am (Am-Dm-E) in whatever order); or to F#m for a verse in that key (F#m-Bm-C#7 in whatever order). Sounds quite dramatic then to come out of that into a D major chord.

However, what I do in this situation is get myself a melody for the verse. I assume you have one (or words and some idea of tune) for the chorus. If not, get one now! And then sing a verse melody by feel. Find an opening note or two (or three) that sounds comfortanle to sing after the chorus, where your voice naturally wants to go. Then find what chord(s) fit those notes. Doesn't have to have any logical connection to the chorus - although if the notes feel natural to sing, then it should.
It's really important to remember that a chord sequence is not a song. A "song" is something you sing. You can't sing chords. What you sing is a melody. Without a melody, a chord sequence can basically go anywhere. There are almost infinite options for what chord changes sound good. Chords can sometimes inspire melodies, but the melody rules in the end.
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Last edited by JonPR; 02-16-2017 at 12:43 PM.
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Old 02-16-2017, 02:08 PM
DASmusic DASmusic is offline
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At the moment, nothing for the verses. I do really like Amy's idea. I also tried replacing the Dm chords with major chords. And it sounded interesting.

I also really like the descending chords as well. They all sound great, alone. It's just thrown in with that chorus (D, Bb, C, A) just throws it off. Maybe I'm doing something wrong... Lol.
Maybe I should change the chorus.

I do agree with the breaking up the chords. It would definitely add more movement to the song. But again, it gets lost when I do so...Same thing with a key change for the verse.

I don't even really hear a direction for the melody.. honestly.
I'm used to writing songs as a whole. I get an idea, write a lyric line, find a melody, get a chord progression and build the song from that, all together.
Where as this one, I had the lyrical content idea, and was kinda aiming for a dark sinister song. And one morning the lyrics just poured out and before I could even grab a guitar I immediately wrote it down as it poured out.
After the lyrics were done, the music for the chorus just came to me. And now I'm here.... Stumped and frustrated. Lol

Like i said, I really do like some of these ideas. It's just not there yet. And when I tweak them around, it gets lost.
Thanks for your patience though. Lol. I appreciate the help a lot.



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Old 02-16-2017, 02:09 PM
amyFB amyFB is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DASmusic View Post
At the moment, nothing for the verses. I do really like Amy's idea. I also tried replacing the Dm chords with major chords. And it sounded interesting.

I also really like the descending chords as well. They all sound great, alone. It's just thrown in with that chorus (D, Bb, C, A) just throws it off. Maybe I'm doing something wrong... Lol.
Maybe I should change the chorus.

I do agree with the breaking up the chords. It would definitely add more movement to the song. But again, it gets lost when I do so...Same thing with a key change for the verse.

I don't even really hear a direction for the melody.. honestly.
I'm used to writing songs as a whole. I get an idea, write a lyric line, find a melody, get a chord progression and build the song from that, all together.
Where as this one, I had the lyrical content idea, and was kinda aiming for a dark sinister song. And one morning the lyrics just poured out and before I could even grab a guitar I immediately wrote it down as it poured out.
After the lyrics were done, the music for the chorus just came to me. And now I'm here.... Stumped and frustrated. Lol

Like i said, I really do like some of these ideas. It's just not there yet. And when I tweak them around, it gets lost.
Thanks for your patience though. Lol. I appreciate the help a lot.



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Sometimes, less is more. Perhaps....just maybe, the song is done already.
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  #13  
Old 02-16-2017, 02:29 PM
DASmusic DASmusic is offline
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Originally Posted by amyFB View Post
Sometimes, less is more. Perhaps....just maybe, the song is done already.
Oddly enough I was thinking the same thing. I've just been beating myself up to the point where nothing sounds right anymore. I need to just walk away and come back later. And listen to it with a new frame of mind.

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Old 02-17-2017, 11:30 AM
JonPR JonPR is offline
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Sometimes, less is more. Perhaps....just maybe, the song is done already.
This!

Certainly if it has a tune and lyrics, it probably is.

This is where Dylan and Neil Young are great teachers. They knew when to stop writing - when a song was finished - even if it only had 3 chords and a 2-bar melody. Or just 2 chords sometimes.

Again, though, it ought to be melody and lyrics which decide it. Melody and lyrics whip a song into shape; they'll throw out superfluous chords.
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