Tech Tip:Writing Songs Using the "Chord Scale"

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Writing Songs Using the "Chord Scale"

Shawn Kowatch; Seattle, WA


Q: Hi Rock House. You guys really do ROCK, I have learned a lot from the DVD and on the forums too!!


I am starting to write songs and I have heard about something called a "Chord Scale" used to write songs. Can you tell me what this is and how it works? Thanks.


A: I'm glad you're learning a lot from the DVD and support site, keep up the good work!


Writing songs is an ever evolving process and you will continuously find new ways to approach it and have new ideas to feed your creativity. The "Chord Scale" is a great tool to find the chords that will work best together in a particular key. The way it works is we build a chord from every degree of a scale. Let me give you an example with a "C" Major scale.


The notes of the "C" Major scale are C-D-E-F-G-A-B and what we are going to do is make a chord from each note. There is a process of building the notes to form the chords that requires a good deal of music theory knowledge; but, I'm going to give you the formula that evolves from the theory that will make it easy to start using the Chord Scale to write songs immediately.


The Major scale chord formula is:
I M7th - ii m7th - iii m7th - IV M7th - V 7th - vi m7th - vii m7thb5


And you apply this formula to any Major scale to find the chords that will work together best for that key. Here's what the chords will be when you apply the formula to the "C" Major scale.
CM7th - Dm7th - Em7th - FM7th - G7th - Am7th - Bm7thb5


You can also use small forms of any of these chords by taking the 7th off; for example, the first chord would be C Major, the second chord would be D Minor. and so on.


Try applying this formula to any Major scale and use it as a great tool for finding the best chords to use together. Also keep in mind that this is only a basic chord structure to start with and you can use other chords to write the song with as well. It's like the old saying "Every rule is made to be broken."



Hope this helps,
Yours in Music
John McCarthy
Rock House Guitar