I am originally a drummer, and I am trying to learn how to play guitar, specially around punk tunes, but I would like to learn more theory.

Then I was listening to The Toy Dolls and it got me thinking why does the guitar parts sound so "happy"? What kind of scales, chord progressions or other theoretical subject are present to make it sound that way?

Dig That Groove is a nice example:

  • A good part of that is the speed, beat, and the way they're playing the notes -- but it does also seem like the particular chords/progressions and maybe effects are having an impact.
    – user28
    Mar 17, 2016 at 20:35
  • "Happy" isn't really a word I would use to describe the guitar sound or chords in this song. Mar 17, 2016 at 23:15

1 Answer 1


Two words that are often associated with "happy" or "cheerful" would be "harmonious" and "upbeat".

In Western music, we tend to associate major keys with happy and minor keys with sad. This song also resolves back to the root chord or "home" which makes us happy or makes us feel good. So you could describe this type of chord progression as "harmonious".

A possible explanation for why major chords evoke a happier mood is that they are formed with the most consonant and natural sounding intervals. In additions - major chords are also comprised of the most prevalent notes in the overtone series related to the root of the chord.

Also, fast tempos are more "upbeat" which is why the word upbeat is associated with happy. "Up tempo" is usually associated with a feel good mood.

In the example given, other elements of the arrangement contribute to the happy/ good feeling as well. The percussion and lyrics and melody are all up tempo, upbeat, and suggest an energetic feeling of excitement!

That's my take. Other's may have more to add.

FWIW - I have found that drummers make great guitar players. Enjoy your new journey towards becoming a guitarist!

  • It actually sounds like most, if not all, of the chords in this are power chords (no third), so they might not really be major or minor. The chord progression I think is based on a major key, mostly. Mar 17, 2016 at 23:16
  • Agreed - power chords in a major key. Third is implied and can be heard in the overtones. Sounds almost the same if you use the full chord. Mar 18, 2016 at 2:00
  • @ToddWilcox Check out the edit (inspired by your input in comments). A little more accurate I think . Also, the comment below your comment on this question was meant to be a reply to you - but I forgot the @ so you may have missed it. Mar 18, 2016 at 2:16

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