Insert your custom message here. close ×

How to write chord progressions a pro would love, Part 12: Interlude

Music Theory

So at this point you’re thinking, “I don’t know anything about music theory, but this kind of smells like it. Key signatures, sharps, flats, roman numerals. Please tell me we’re not doing music theory.”

We’re not doing music theory.
We’re looking at the building blocks of music. The stuff you need if you want go as far as you can. You may not want to go that far. I get it. One of my students once said to me, “You’ve taken something I love and made it into homework.” He didn’t like practicing.
He did like being able to play solos, write songs, and play different styles, though. He wasn’t doing any of that before he started doing homework.
But I get it. It feels like work. I want to convince you that it’s worth it. I can’t. But I can try to make it easier.
So no new information. Instead, here’s a list of all the terms I’ve introduced so far. Presumably, you didn’t know some of this before you started reading this blog. Now you do. Congratulations. You’re a better musician than you were before.


 A unit  of 4 beats.

Bar lines

The short, vertical lines on the staff that visually create the bars. Bars exist between two bar lines.

Function (as in chord function)

This refers to what a chord is used for, whether for ending a song, or a verse, or a chorus (like the I chord) or to create tension (like the V chord). The ii chord and the IV chord have the function of usually going to the V chord.
These are conventional functions. There are exceptions to everything. Don’t be a slave to convention.

Harmonic rhythm

Refers to how many chords you have in a bar and where those chords are placed.


That musical idea that you can’t forget. If you can’t remember a song, it’s usually because there’s no hook.

Hash marks

Bold diagonal lines that show the beats in the bar.


A staff is the 5 horizontal lines that musical notes are placed on. Stave is plural for staff.


Sheet music that musicians read from. A part is specific to the player (bass part, guitar part, etc.).

Lead sheet

A copy of the whole song that usually has melody, chords and lyrics.


A series of 7 notes. Up to now, we’ve only looked at the major scale.


A collection of 7 notes, with one note being more important than the others. If you think this sounds like the description of a scale, you’d be right. But key is different than scale, because it tells you what the sharps and/or flats in any scale.
Think of the scale as something that can only be made once you know the key. The key is like the parent, the scale is the child.
Share : facebooktwittergoogle plus

No Response

Leave us a comment

No comment posted yet.

Leave a Reply