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How does one find chord progressions of a song?

I'm trying to find the sequence to: http://wildcatstrike.bandcamp.com/track/lloyd-braun-2

All I have though is A minor though :(

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3 Answers 3

up vote 7 down vote accepted

How does one do it... well, often it's easiest to first listen to the bass (starts only together with the drums). It's quite easy to identify

|: a  a  c  f | e           :|

Then the first guess would be to take those as the base notes of the key's functional chords, which in A-minor would be

|: i i III VI | V            :|

where the dominant V is however, quite audibly, in minor rather than major, so we have actually

|: i i III VI | v           :|

which would be

|: Am     C  F  | Em           :|

Indeed this is not too far off already – the acoustic guitar probably doesn't do anything more than this, probably doesn't even bother to properly to the F. The electric guitars obviously add some more, for instance you hear something that's mostly the third above the bass's motive:

|: c d e a | g         :|

most of which is in the chords anyway, only voiced in a particularly simple way (essentially just slide the same chord voicing up with the bass line); the main addition is the d, making the actual chords rather

|: Am Asus4 C  F  | Em          :|

As for the exact voicing, let's see... simplified:

$D.2.$G.2.$B.1 $D.2.$G.2.$B.3 $D.5.$G.5.$B.5 $G.5.$B.6.$e.5 $G.4.$B.5.$e.3

would seem to work quite well.

...I'm not really a fan of jTAB...

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Thank you very much! Wow. –  mkl0dw Feb 23 '13 at 23:46

As your question is more or less answered already, I'll just echo that in generally it is best to start with the bass line and work your way from there. More broadly, being able to transcribe music for yourself or others is greatly helped by a practice called interval training, where you practice and learn the sonic differences between note intervals.

Also, especially for popular music, learning about the circle of fifths (which is the bases for many, many popular chord progressions) may speed up your transcription process.

Finally, the most popular chord progression (also consistent with the wheel of fifths) is I-IV-V, or starting from C, C-F-G.

C = 1
D = 2
E = 3
F = 4
G = 5
A = 6
B = 7

Hope that helps!

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As the other answers have stated ear training will help you out the most in the long term. That said if you want to 'cheat' there are a few apps that are quite good at transcribing chords from recordings.

Chord Detector, Sibelius, Finale, Chord Detector for iPhone

Ableton Live 9 will also have audio to midi functionality.

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