How to Create and Play Guitar Chords

Guitar chords can be “put together” in many ways, resulting in different sounds. Interesting sounds are always possible, and chord progressions can create infinite possibilities. Musicians often rely on intuition to arrange and play guitar chords, resulting in new, vibrant sounds. Guitar chord progressions are the source from which all musical art is born.

What is Harmonic Movement, Anyway?

Harmonic movement is the interplay between different chords. Music is dynamic, and harmonic movement creates change, “flow”, and multi-layered sounds. While harmonies are virtually limitless, a single principle binds their fundamental rules.

Lotus Music discusses harmonic movement in terms of stability, departure, and tension. In many ways, chord progression demonstrates a dramatic emotional array. As individuals hear this array, they become increasingly “aware” of its components.

Making Your Own Chord Progressions

Chord progressions follow a general “formula”, and can be generated to create several harmonic functions. Homespun Music Information is a great resource for chord progression creativity, and it can instruct readers to create dynamic tension.

When creating your own chord progressions, you’ll need to understand Roman numerals. These numerals indicate different chords within the progression. As numerals are placed upon the diatonic scale’s pattern, they form chord indications.

Creating Basic Chord Progressions

Sometimes, a catchy melody is the only needed resource. To make a great chord progression, you’ll need to build from a musical “center of gravity” (Fretjam). This home area will assist your travels.

Pick a major or minor chord. Then, begin your song with it. Once you’ve developed a base key, relationships will begin forming around your created origin.

Moods in Chord Progressions

Chord progressions have attached “moods”, or “feelings” when played. If you’re opening in C major, a positive, upbeat sound will be produced. Similarly, if you’re opening a song in E minor, a downbeat, melancholic sound will arise.

Moods are an essential cornerstone to understand. Your tonic, or numeral I, will dictate your first chord. Often, a developed ear is required for complex chord progressions. Different emotional responses are invoked from different chord progressions—and, again, a lot exist!

When generating your own chord progressions, be certain to form a clear distinction between minor and major chords. These chords are primary building blocks, and their relationship with one another gives a song it’s depth and overall rhythm.

Finding Natural Relationships

Chord progressions form natural relationships. Often, songs utilize several chord “changes” to take the listener on a journey. These relationships can be unique, or, they can follow preset guidelines dictated in musical theory. is a great resource for finding such chords.

Eventually, your songs resolution will return the listener “home”—back to the first chord. Naturally, your base key will be reinforced here.

In many ways, music is a story. It tells a tale through affecting the listener psychologically. Chord progressions each contain personality, and they’re incredibly versatile to different playing styles.

Discovering chord progressions to play, in many ways, is like discovering one’s musical “voice”. Many famous guitarists naturally have chord progression “templates” governing their style. In time, you’ll develop your own chord progression style—leaving your signature upon every played song, every chord and every home-to-resolution relationship.

Works Cited

All-Chord-Progressions. CHORD PROGRESSIONS. 2015.
Beatham, Mike. Basic Guitar Chord Progressions. 2014.
Music, Lotus. Chord Progressions. 2015.
Traum, Artie. Easy Guitar Chords and Progressions. 2015.