This is a question I've had for a long time but I've never really found the answer other than following some suggestions on chord sequences like 1,3,2,5 and 1,4,5, but I'm sure there must be another way of coming up with a sequence of chords that work together.

I usually write my melodies first and try to work out what chords work with it based on the notes I'm playing. Occasionally I try to write some harmonies first when I compose, but with either approach, I'll reach a point where I'm dumbfounded on where I can go next.

Let's take a simple example, I'm writing a comedy orchestral track now starts with C major, then goes to Gb major (essentially shifting key). I've written some lines on top of those chords, but now I can't find where to go next.

Is there any musical theory I should be drawing on to find out where to go next?


1 Answer 1


Nearly every melody line has underlying harmonies (chord) which reflect the notes in each bar. E.g., in a bar of C-E-F-G, there are notes which make Cmaj., so that chord will fit in that bar.

In a bar with, for example, an F and A, this will give you more scope - F, Dm, G9 come to mind.

Often there's a note which won't fit a chord, and if it's on a weak part of the bar, it won't count towards that chord. Weaker parts could be 2nd or last beat, or maybe the 'and' between beats. 1st and 3rd (in 4/4) are places to look for components of a chord. When you move out of key, as in C - G♭, there are no common notes, so either change chord within the bar, or possibly use a B♭ note, which could fit both C7 and G♭

Really need that sample.

  • 1
    Ok, I've got a quick mp3 I put together and a pdf of the melody line - as the melody moves across different instrument groups, I've put it all into one line so it's easier to see what's going on. As I'm still learning how to write music properly, I apologise in advance if this isn't the way to write the melody correctly (I left the key signature as C major)! My question is I don't know what chords I could play next after the Gb major at the end of this sequence. I haven't come up for a melody for it yet btw. mp3: bit.ly/comedy-mp3 and the pdf: bit.ly/comedy-melody
    – Osu
    May 24, 2013 at 8:27
  • When you write out music try to keep to ## OR bb.Mixing them mixes up the reader ! There are occasions when an accidental MUST be # or b specifically, for technical reasons, but not in this tune. Quite like the arrangement. You've moved a tritone - the Devil's interval. Used a lot in jazz. What's next depends on the next bit of tune.Down one semitone may keep the 'jaunty' feel.
    – Tim
    May 24, 2013 at 9:17

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.