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CHAPTER 6:
How Chords and Chord Progressions
REALLY Work
  
6.8 Chase Charts: Chord Progression “Maps”

 
PAGE INDEX
  

6.8.1 You Can Use “Maps” of Harmonic Scales to Create Beautiful,
      Powerful Chord Progressions

6.8.2 What’s a Chase Chart?

6.8.3 What Does a Chase Chart Look Like?

6.8.4 How to Sketch a Chase Chart

6.8.5 Sources of Harmonic Scale Chords with Nashville Numbers for Every Key

 

~ • ~ • ~ • ~


6.8.1

YOU CAN USE “MAPS OF HARMONIC SCALES TO CREATE BEAUTIFUL, POWERFUL CHORD PROGRESSIONS


In the following sections, you’ll find out how you can use visual “maps” of harmonic scales to:

    

     1.  Create strong chord progressions that move by fifths, thirds, seconds, chromatically, or in combinations.

   

     2.  Modulate from any key to any other key and back again.

   

     3.  Create endless variety in chord progressions by substituting chord variants at any of the seven positions in the “default” circular harmonic scale. (You can substitute 30 or more different types of chords at each of the seven positions—chords such as minor sixths, minor sevenths, major sevenths, ninths, and so on.)

   

     4.  Use multiple chord variants at any of the seven positions in the harmonic scale within the same song.


     You’ll also learn a fast, easy way to visually differentiate chord progressions that sound strong and appealing from chord progressions that sound weak and unappealing.


     To do all this, you need to learn how to draw a little map-like diagram called a Chase chart.



6.8.2

WHAT’S A CHASE CHART?


It’s a circular harmonic scale diagram, a “map” of a chord progression, that enables you to eyeball a chord progression for any song.


     With a Chase chart, you can actually see chord progressions at work!


     Chase charts are easy to learn to sketch, and wickedly effective. You don’t need to know anything about reading music. If you use Chase charts in your own songwriting, the results will amaze you.


     You can sketch a Chase chart for any of your own songs or any other songs you choose. Suppose, for example, you hear a song that has a particularly striking, compelling chord progression. Want to know exactly what makes it striking and compelling?


     You can find out in a only few minutes by doing a Chase chart.


     You can use Chase charts to visually explore the chord progressions of any kind of song, any genre—pop, rock, jazz, country, folk, blues, you name it. Even classical music.


     The discussion coming up shows you examples of Chase charts for the following selection of great songs of diverse genres (Table 46), most from the GSSL.


 



TABLE 46  Chase Charts of a Selection of Songs (Comin’ Up)


“All Along The Watchtower”

“Blue Moon”

“Bridge Over Troubled Water”

“Carefree Highway”

“Crazy”

“Danny Boy”

“Dear Landlord”

“Five Foot Two”

“Free Man In Paris”

“Georgia On My Mind”

“Gimme Shelter”

“Girl From Ipanema”

“Heart And Soul”

“Heartbreak Hotel”

“Hey Jude”

“Hey Joe”

“I Got Plenty O’ Nuttin’”

“I Heard It Through The
     Grapevine”

“I’ve Got You Under My Skin”

“It Was A Very Good Year”

“Jambalaya”

“Kaw-liga”

“Kodachrome”

“Lovesick Blues”

“Midnight Train To Georgia”

“Moondance”

“One Fine Day”

“Return To Sender”

“September Song”

“Sittin’ On The Dock Of The Bay”

“Star Spangled Banner”

“Sundown”

“Three Bells (Jimmy Brown Song)”

“Tracks Of My Tears”

“Trouble In Mind”

“Walking After Midnight”

“When A Man Loves A Woman”

“Wild Horses”

“Yesterday”





     Using Chase charts, you will soon see precisely how and why the chord progressions of these brilliant songs work. And how you can apply the chord progression techniques in your own songwriting.



6.8.3

WHAT DOES A CHASE CHART LOOK LIKE?


To do a Chase chart of any song’s chord progression, you need the following:

   

     1.  A pencil or pen and some paper.

   

     2.  A lyric sheet showing the chords for the song. You can use a lead sheet if you want to, but you don’t need the melody. Just the chords.

  

     3.  Instructions on how to do Chase chart. Coming up momentarily.


     But first, here’s an example of what a Chase chart looks like (Figure 59). As you can see, it’s just an innocent-looking little diagram—a harmonic scale diagram that “maps” the pattern of the song’s chord progression. Small and simple—but it packs a powerful punch. (Chase charts can get pretty elaborate.)
 



FIGURE 59  Chase Chart of “Heartbreak Hotel” (Words and Music by Hoyt Axton’s Mom, Mae Boren Axton, 1956)  





                     


     Think of a Chase chart diagram as a “map” of a song’s chord progression. The above example illustrates Chase chart basics:

 

        The circle is the harmonic scale for a particular key. You can use whatever key you like. In this example, the key happens to be E major / C♯ minor.

 

        Numbered arrows point from one chord to the next chord in the progression.

 

        The first arrow (numbered “1") has a little circle at its base, signifying the beginning of the chord progression.


     What makes Chase charts so useful in songwriting is that they reveal certain specific patterns and characteristics, which you’ll learn from the upcoming examples. These patterns visually disclose the strengths, weaknesses, and potential appeal of various chord changes.



6.8.4

HOW TO SKETCH A CHASE CHART


Draw a small circle, perhaps a couple of inches (5 cm) in diameter. Make seven tick marks around the circle:


        One at the very bottom in the middle,


        Two at the top, like little horns,


        Two on the left side, and two on the right side.


Try to space the seven tick marks more or less equally, as in Figure 60.




FIGURE 60  Chase Chart Outline







     Next, add the harmonic scale’s Nashville Numbers to the inside of the circle. Draw a small circle around VIm and I. These are the minor and major tonic chords (Figure 61 below).


     IMPORTANT: The Nashville Numbers around the inside of the circular harmonic scale never change. Ever. The Nashville Numbers around the inside of the circle are the “default” chords. They serve as your reference points. However, as you’ll see in a second, the chords around the outside of the circular harmonic scale can vary quite a bit.


     If you forget which Nashville Numbers belong to which tick marks, you can look them up at the back in Appendix 1, Roedy Black’s Chord Progression Chart.




FIGURE 61  Chase Chart Showing Nashville Numbers and Circled Tonic Chords





                     


     Next, add the specific chords for the key of the song whose chord progression you want to have a look at. These go around the outside of the circle. You can get them from the Chord Progression Chart, Appendix 1 (Figure 62):





FIGURE 62  Chase Chart with Nashville Numbers Around the Inside, and Chords for the Key of E Major / C♯ Minor Around the Outside







     So far, you have the harmonic scale for the key of the song. Next, you will need to draw some arrows inside the circle, connecting the chords of the song in sequence. But first ...



6.8.5

SOURCES OF HARMONIC SCALE CHORDS WITH NASHVILLE NUMBERS FOR EVERY KEY


Roedy Black’s Chord Progression Chart, reproduced in Appendix 1, shows the harmonic scale chords and Nashville Numbers for all 12 pairs of keys (major and relative minor).


     The Chase chart in Figure 62 above is the same as the first diagram in the middle column of the Chord Progression Chart.


     Another source of harmonic scale chords with Nashville Numbers in every key is Roedy Black’s Complete Guitar Chord Poster, which is available at www.CompleteChords.com.


     The left side of this large laminated poster shows the fingering positions for the specific harmonic scale chords in every key.


     (Harmonic scales are exclusive components of Roedy Black’s series of music reference charts.)


     Figure 63 below shows a segment of this poster (upper left, smaller than actual size). Under the heading “PRINCIPAL CHORDS,” you can see the following Nashville Numbers:

 

     I         (tonic chord of the major key),

 

     IV       (subdominant chord), and

 

     V7      (dominant seventh chord).


     Under the heading “RELATIVE MINOR,” you can see the following Nashville Numbers:

   

     VIm    (tonic chord of the relative minor key),

 

     IIm     (subdominant chord of the relative minor), and

 

     III7     (dominant seventh chord of the relative minor).


     The column under each Nashville Number shows the specific corresponding harmonic scale chords and fingering positions for each key. (Each horizontal color band shows the chords of a different key.)




FIGURE 63  Upper Left Segment of Roedy Black’s Complete Guitar Chord Poster, Showing Harmonic Scale Chords ("PRINCIPAL CHORDS” and “RELATIVE MINOR")

 







     Figure 64 below shows a segment of Roedy Black’s Complete Keyboard Chord Poster with the same information as displayed in Figure 63 above.

 



FIGURE 64  Upper Left Segment of Roedy Black’s Complete Keyboard Chord Poster, Showing Harmonic Scale Chords (“PRINCIPAL CHORDS” and “RELATIVE MINOR”)







 

     These two charts also show you the Nashville Number for each individual chord in each key (Figure 65 below). So you don’t have to figure anything out or look anything up.




FIGURE 65  Close-up Section of Roedy Black’s Compete Guitar Chord Poster Showing Nashville Numbers for Each Chord






~ • ~ • ~ • ~

 

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You are reading the FREE SAMPLE Chapters 1 through 6 of the acclaimed 12-Chapter book, How Music REALLY Works!, 2nd Edition. Here's what's in Chapters 7 through 12. 

 

To order the book, click here:

  
 

 

 

 TABLE OF
 CONTENTS

  

 PART I

 The Big Picture    Introduction

   1. W-5 of Music
  
2. Pop Music
   
    Industry

  
 PART II
 Essential
 Building Blocks
 of Music
   3.
Tones/Overtones
   4. Scales/Intervals
   5. Keys/Modes
 
 PART III
 How to Create
 Emotionally
 Powerful Music
 and Lyrics
   6.
Chords/
  
      Progressions

   7. Pulse/Meter/
  
      Tempo/Rhythm

   8. Phrase/Form
   9. Melody
 10. Lyrics
 11. Repertoire/
     
  Performance

  

 PART IV
 Making a
 Living In Music
 12.
Business of
   
     Music

 
 Appendixes

   

 Notes

   

 References

  

 Index
  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   Top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 TABLE OF
 CONTENTS

  

 PART I

 The Big Picture    Introduction

   1. W-5 of Music
  
2. Pop Music
   
    Industry

  
 PART II
 Essential
 Building Blocks
 of Music
   3.
Tones/Overtones
   4. Scales/Intervals
   5. Keys/Modes
 
 PART III
 How to Create
 Emotionally
 Powerful Music
 and Lyrics
   6.
Chords/
  
      Progressions

   7. Pulse/Meter/
  
      Tempo/Rhythm

   8. Phrase/Form
   9. Melody
 10. Lyrics
 11. Repertoire/
     
  Performance

  

 PART IV
 Making a
 Living In Music
 12.
Business of
   
     Music

 
 Appendixes

   

 Notes

   

 References

  

 Index
  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   Top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 TABLE OF
 CONTENTS

  

 PART I

 The Big Picture    Introduction

   1. W-5 of Music
  
2. Pop Music
   
    Industry

  
 PART II
 Essential
 Building Blocks
 of Music
   3.
Tones/Overtones
   4. Scales/Intervals
   5. Keys/Modes
 
 PART III
 How to Create
 Emotionally
 Powerful Music
 and Lyrics
   6.
Chords/
  
      Progressions

   7. Pulse/Meter/
  
      Tempo/Rhythm

   8. Phrase/Form
   9. Melody
 10. Lyrics
 11. Repertoire/
     
  Performance

  

 PART IV
 Making a
 Living In Music
 12.
Business of
   
     Music

 
 Appendixes

   

 Notes

   

 References

  

 Index
  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   Top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 TABLE OF
 CONTENTS

  

 PART I

 The Big Picture    Introduction

   1. W-5 of Music
  
2. Pop Music
   
    Industry

  
 PART II
 Essential
 Building Blocks
 of Music
   3.
Tones/Overtones
   4. Scales/Intervals
   5. Keys/Modes
 
 PART III
 How to Create
 Emotionally
 Powerful Music
 and Lyrics
   6.
Chords/
  
      Progressions

   7. Pulse/Meter/
  
      Tempo/Rhythm

   8. Phrase/Form
   9. Melody
 10. Lyrics
 11. Repertoire/
     
  Performance

  

 PART IV
 Making a
 Living In Music
 12.
Business of
   
     Music

 
 Appendixes

   

 Notes

   

 References

  

 Index
  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   Top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 TABLE OF
 CONTENTS

  

 PART I

 The Big Picture    Introduction

   1. W-5 of Music
  
2. Pop Music
   
    Industry

  
 PART II
 Essential
 Building Blocks
 of Music
   3.
Tones/Overtones
   4. Scales/Intervals
   5. Keys/Modes
 
 PART III
 How to Create
 Emotionally
 Powerful Music
 and Lyrics
   6.
Chords/
  
      Progressions

   7. Pulse/Meter/
  
      Tempo/Rhythm

   8. Phrase/Form
   9. Melody
 10. Lyrics
 11. Repertoire/
     
  Performance

  

 PART IV
 Making a
 Living In Music
 12.
Business of
   
     Music

 
 Appendixes

   

 Notes

   

 References

  

 Index
  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   Top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 TABLE OF
 CONTENTS

  

 PART I

 The Big Picture    Introduction

   1. W-5 of Music
  
2. Pop Music
   
    Industry

  
 PART II
 Essential
 Building Blocks
 of Music
   3.
Tones/Overtones
   4. Scales/Intervals
   5. Keys/Modes
 
 PART III
 How to Create
 Emotionally
 Powerful Music
 and Lyrics
   6.
Chords/
  
      Progressions

   7. Pulse/Meter/
  
      Tempo/Rhythm

   8. Phrase/Form
   9. Melody
 10. Lyrics
 11. Repertoire/
     
  Performance

  

 PART IV
 Making a
 Living In Music
 12.
Business of
   
     Music

 
 Appendixes

   

 Notes

   

 References

  

 Index
  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   Top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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