The title is a good representation of what I want to do. Is there a standard way of testing out my chord progression so that I can hear it without having to write it down on a score? Writing out the notes of each chord is too slow and I am having trouble learning what each chord sounds like.

  • 3
    Play the chords on a keyboard or guitar or other chording instrument? – ex nihilo Nov 8 '18 at 21:14
  • Just curious, how will your progressions eventually be performed or recorded? – Michael Curtis Nov 8 '18 at 21:44
  • @MichaelCurtis I don’t know. At the moment, I am just trying to learn what the various chords sound like and trying to explore. – dalearn Nov 8 '18 at 21:46
  • @DavidBowling I don’t know how to play any chording instruments unfortunately which is why I am asking this question. – dalearn Nov 8 '18 at 21:47
  • Sounds like you need to find a guitarist or piano player who can bring the sequence of chords to life. When you do, the opportunity's there to learn how to do it yourself - you won't regret it ! – Tim Nov 9 '18 at 9:03

If you mean something like this...

My chords are: Am D Em C (or whatever)

...now I just want to hear them, then try this:


I think you can find many other apps like that for smartphones where you can select from rhythm styles and instruments. Basically, I think Apple's Garageband does all that stuff.

The is also a program called Band in a Box. I haven't used it, but my understanding is that it provides the same function to generate a rhythm section from a chord progression.

But, also some electric keyboards have harmony buttons that I think are supposed to "auto" harmonize a bass.

Another acoustic possibility is an autoharp.

Those things can help you along to quickly hear the chord changes, but eventually you want to get basic skills on keyboard or guitar to be able to play chords. You should also get a foundation in harmony so you can learn the terminology of chords and common functions. Try getting into a library and look at the harmony textbooks. In the meanwhile, from a pop/rock perspective, this site might help you: http://www.angelfire.com/fl4/moneychords/lesson.html. It lists a lot of very common chord progressions. My point is this: experiment with those chord playing apps, but also study chord patterns. Most songs follow common patterns.

On the other hand, if you mean you want an alternative to writing chords on music staves, maybe what you need is a guide to the short hand notations. There are basically two: roman numeral analysis and jazz chord symbols. I suppose you can add a third: Nashville number system. Those are all widely used chord progression short hands that don't require notation on music staves.

  • I would like to somehow turn one of those chord symbol schemes into music. Any ideas? I liked your suggestions but they were a little impractical for my purposes – dalearn Nov 8 '18 at 21:52
  • A simple demo can be done at chordchord.com with the jazz chord symbol system. It's just a free web app so it only lets you do 4 chords. If that kind of thing is what you are after, try band in a box pgmusic.com it's a full scale app. ...one way or another you should plan to devote some time to this. – Michael Curtis Nov 8 '18 at 22:06
  • Thanks for the suggestions! Chordchord only supports arpeggios so won’t be able to use it to listen to block chords. Do you know if GarageBand or something similar would work? – dalearn Nov 9 '18 at 0:03
  • Try some music notation/midi apps, example Music tool kit for android phone, helps you to define chord notes in a staff/measures with playback option. – Bruce Nov 9 '18 at 4:24

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