Througout April I challenged myself to write a new set of chords every day, posting them up on Twitter. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Liam, you’re a musician. Surely you’re writing music all the time?” Yeah, sure, but I don’t usually have the time to actively improve on my craft. Working on something will improve your skill set over time, certainly, but not to the same degree as actively focusing on improvement. Put simply: freelance deadlines will pay the bills but you have to really focus if you want to improve your craft.
I’ve known for a while that I tend to rely on similar progressions when writing, especially on a tight schedule, so I’m deliberately giving myself time with the goal of familiarizing myself with chords I tend to avoid and hopefully begin to use them in original works.
Oh, also, I suck at comiting to things. So challenging myself in this way, such that it would be really obvious on Twitter if I didn’t stick to it, actually meant I would stick to it.
I decided to do this back in January and picked the month of April as it was the first month with only 30 days – a nice, round number. Little did I know the world would come to a stand still for several months.
But, at this point I was committed, so I pressed ahead.
I’ve known for a while that I can write some decent chord progressions using my ears alone, tightening things up with scale theory when necessary. Often I’ll write a handful of fun chords, but not know how to end a sequence such that I can loop back to the start. As some of you are no doubt thinking, it is usually as simple as a V7.
So what kinds of chords am I trying to use? 6th chords are a big one for me, because the naming convention seems to fall on it’s ass there. Maybe it’s just a guitar problem, many things are. As you can see from the images below, I made good use of 6th chords – I’m still not happy with the naming convention but at least I’m happy with the sound of the chords now.
I also wanted to try writing on different instruments: using piano, guitar and ukulele; using just pen, paper and my inner-ear; the piano roll in Cubase.
Other ideas stem from specific musical concepts, like the 12-tone-row. Can I write a chord sequence that used all 12 chromatic notes? Probably, but can I make it sound good?
Here’s The Chords
It only remains for me to share the entire catalog of chord sequences as shared on Twitter: you can find the original posts by searching for #MonthOfChords on Twitter, or feel free to sift through the gallery below.