I'D APPRECIATE A BIT OF ADVICE ON A THEORY QUESTION ABOUT SOMETHING I'M WRITING.

Kandinskyesque

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I'm came up with a chord sequence brought about by some melodies I had in head, now I'm playing about with/refining the vocal melodies and I know the verse key is in F#maj and the other part (chorus? it might be the other way round, lyric depending) is evading me as to what key it's in.
I know I'm doing some kind of modulation but my theory is poor to non existent and I'd appreciate somebody with a bit of theory knowledge to tell me what I've managed to pull from the ether.

The verse chords are: (4/4)
F#/ F#/ A#m/ B
B/ D#m/ A#m/ B
Bm/ D#m/ A#m/ G#m
F#/ F#/ B/ Bm

I repeat that then go into:
Bm/ Bm/ E/ E/ C#m/ C#m/ F#m/ F#m
Bm/ Bm/ E/ E/ A/ A/ C#/ C#

Then back round the verse chords again.

I've came up with a few key vocal melodies I like in both parts but I'd like to put some variations on them.
I can currently work it out by ear but I don't know what theory lies behind these patterns.

Any help would be gratefully appreciated.
 

ndcaster

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nice

one way to hear this is that we're in F# the whole way, the first time in major, the second in minor

F#:
I I iii IV
IV vi iii IV
iv vi iii ii
I I IV iv

F#m:
iv iv VII VII
v v i i
iv iv VII VII
III III v v

by the way, with all those minor 4 and minor 5 chords, the progression is "borrowing" chords from other keys

another way to hear it, however, is that the second section modulates to A major

A:
ii ii V V
iii iii vi vi
ii ii V V
I I F#: V V

and the last two bars of C# is the V or pivot chord back to F# major

there's a lot of movement here by thirds: I'm guessing you like The Beatles?
 

studio

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The way I take apart progressions I'm trying to learn is to find the 2 5 1 chords if any.
Then I can flesh out the rest. It's easier for me.

I see partial that formulation in both those sets. Almost like you're borrowing from that but just in passing.
 

Harry Styron

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I’m really interested in hearing your melodic ideas. I don’t have any formal training in theory, so I’m presenting only my understanding, not informed analysis.

Ordinarily, a chord progression will move to the V (in your case C#) to create a kind of tension that is resolved by returning to the I (F#). I would expect the melody to ascend, with the narrative of the lyric also intensifying with the tension created by the move from I to IV to V. You don’t reach the V until the second section. Because you reach the V only after modulating, it doesn’t carry much tension, though it provides a neat path back to the first section.

Without the familiar I-IV-V structure, in my ear your chord progression meanders. I tried moving up the neck as I played it, so that the higher pitch might supply some drama, but I didn’t find it, perhaps because of my own limitations.

However, you may have rhythmic and melodic ideas that make it work.
 

Kandinskyesque

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I’m really interested in hearing your melodic ideas. I don’t have any formal training in theory, so I’m presenting only my understanding, not informed analysis.

Ordinarily, a chord progression will move to the V (in your case C#) to create a kind of tension that is resolved by returning to the I (F#). I would expect the melody to ascend, with the narrative of the lyric also intensifying with the tension created by the move from I to IV to V. You don’t reach the V until the second section. Because you reach the V only after modulating, it doesn’t carry much tension, though it provides a neat path back to the first section.

Without the familiar I-IV-V structure, in my ear your chord progression meanders. I tried moving up the neck as I played it, so that the higher pitch might supply some drama, but I didn’t find it, perhaps because of my own limitations.

However, you may have rhythmic and melodic ideas that make it work.
It's just the initial idea brought about by melody ideas that 'arrived', and the chords that seemed to work with what I was singing was in the key of F#.
I shifted it all up to G last night but possibly might move it further up to A to suit my vocal range to something more 'throaty' and a bit of 'falsetto' to add to the drama.

Invariably these melodies tend to 'arrive' during a bath, shower, after my prescribed afternoon nap or at times when I switch the car radio off and sing to myself.
It sounded a bit unusual to me than what I normally come up with.

I was getting bored with the last spate of melodies over the last 6 months having me immediately reaching for a major 7th chord so it's been a welcome change.

I'll work on it for a week then probably shelve it for a couple and dip into my reservoir of lyrics in between times.

I'm very grateful for the responses I've had so far because my theory is poor to non-existent.
 

drmordo

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I'm came up with a chord sequence brought about by some melodies I had in head, now I'm playing about with/refining the vocal melodies and I know the verse key is in F#maj and the other part (chorus? it might be the other way round, lyric depending) is evading me as to what key it's in.
I know I'm doing some kind of modulation but my theory is poor to non existent and I'd appreciate somebody with a bit of theory knowledge to tell me what I've managed to pull from the ether.

The verse chords are: (4/4)
F#/ F#/ A#m/ B
B/ D#m/ A#m/ B
Bm/ D#m/ A#m/ G#m
F#/ F#/ B/ Bm

I repeat that then go into:
Bm/ Bm/ E/ E/ C#m/ C#m/ F#m/ F#m
Bm/ Bm/ E/ E/ A/ A/ C#/ C#

Then back round the verse chords again.

I've came up with a few key vocal melodies I like in both parts but I'd like to put some variations on them.
I can currently work it out by ear but I don't know what theory lies behind these patterns.

Any help would be gratefully appreciated.

IMO there is no question about this.

The first section is very clearly in F# with the Bm occasionally creating a bit of tension.

F#/ F#/ A#m/ B
B/ D#m/ A#m/ B
Bm/ D#m/ A#m/ G#m
F#/ F#/ B/ Bm

The B section is most definitely a ii/V/iii/vi in A, which then goes to the C# to modulate back to F#.

Bm/ Bm/ E/ E/ C#m/ C#m/ F#m/ F#m
Bm/ Bm/ E/ E/ A/ A/ C#/ C#

So the verse in is F#, then it modulates to A for the bridge. No insult intended at all (it could be a great song, can't know without the melody), but with regards to theory interpretation, this is very straightforward stuff clearly established in the Great American Songbook.
 

Kandinskyesque

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IMO there is no question about this.

The first section is very clearly in F# with the Bm occasionally creating a bit of tension.

F#/ F#/ A#m/ B
B/ D#m/ A#m/ B
Bm/ D#m/ A#m/ G#m
F#/ F#/ B/ Bm

The B section is most definitely a ii/V/iii/vi in A, which then goes to the C# to modulate back to F#.

Bm/ Bm/ E/ E/ C#m/ C#m/ F#m/ F#m
Bm/ Bm/ E/ E/ A/ A/ C#/ C#

So the verse in is F#, then it modulates to A for the bridge. No insult intended at all (it could be a great song, can't know without the melody), but with regards to theory interpretation, this is very straightforward stuff clearly established in the Great American Songbook.
No insult taken.
I have no theory at all beyond CAGED or basic cowboy chords despite years of playing.
I've been dipping into the Fred Sokolow videos on the Great American Songbook canon for a few years and while I can play most of the stuff I've watched verbatim, I've never quite been able to connect the theory behind it, if at all.
The same goes for for the Beatles and Sting songs I've been playing for decades, so when I'm writing I can 'hear' a chord that will work but I've no idea why it works.
It's probably time for some theory lessons.
 

41144

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So, fwiw, I'm seeing an F# Major section followed by an E Major section.

F# Major gives the notes: F# G# A# B C# D# F
Which gives the chords: F# G#m A#m B C#m D#m Fdim
Commonly denoted as: I ii iii IV V vi vii0(superscript)

You are clearly using the: I iii IV vi and ii …. BUT you also use Bm instead of B Major.
However, as the B is the IV in the scale it is not uncommon to “reverse the polarity” of the IV in a song. That simply means, in the case of the IV, change a Major chord to minor one.


E Major gives the notes: E F# G# A B C# D#
Which gives the chords: E F#m G#m A B C#m D#dim
Commonly denoted as: I ii iii IV V vi vii0(ditto)

This clearly uses the: I vi ii and IV. Then, however, this time you have used reversed the polarity of the V chord, from Major to minor … which would 'normally' not be expected.

It's tempting to think that you've also reversed the polarity of the vi chord as well, going from the expected minor to a Major chord.

But, there's another 'trick' in that you can utilise 'flat degree' chords. These 'normally' apply to the iii, vi, and vii chords. Where a 'flat degree' chord is one that is not only flatted but then also changed from a minor chord to a Major one. I just think here you've done some sort of hybrid between reverse polarity and flat degrees to get a chord that fits your song.



So, the clue really is 'normally' … when it comes to writing pop/rock/non-classical songs … theory pretty well flies out the window. If the chord sounds good/better than the expected one - go for it.

ie. In any scale reversing the polarity of a chord in the 2nd, 3rd or 4th positions is not unheard of/unusual.

Similarly, you can use 'flat degree chords' … these usually apply to the 3rd, 6th and 7th chords where you take the chord down a semi-tone and change it from minor to Major.

I'm no expert but, c. 10 years of working with a singer/songwriter who can't tell me what key a songs is in has necessitated some reading on this stuff.

Experts please correct me!
 

41144

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If this helps/you're not already aware ... see attached file.

Got this off internet somewhere ... which is exactly the same as a table in Ricky Rooksby's excellent book - How to write songs on guitar (ISBN978-0-87930-943-8) ... well worth buying/reading, imo.
 

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Kandinskyesque

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If this helps/you're not already aware ... see attached file.

Got this off internet somewhere ... which is exactly the same as a table in Ricky Rooksby's excellent book - How to write songs on guitar (ISBN978-0-87930-943-8) ... well worth buying/reading, imo.
WOW THANKS!!!
I'm grateful, and I'll be studying it over the coming weeks.
I'll also get a hold of the book.
It looks like what I need to start filling in the massive hole in my knowledge.
I'd had no idea where to start and this looks like I can at the very minimum take that first step.
 




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