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I wrote a song that has a pretty simple verse that's in D minor. I can understand all of the chords in that progression. However, I can't figure out what's going on in the chorus. I'm curious why it works, what scales will sound good over which chords, what key it's in, etc.

The progression (of the chorus) is: A F Bb Bb A F G E x2 (all major chords)

  • These chords are not all in Dmin. Are you sure that is the key of your song? – ggcg May 8 at 20:36
  • The verse is in Dmin. This is the chorus which is the part I can't figure out. – Devin Brenton May 8 at 20:46
  • Sorry, I get it now. – ggcg May 8 at 20:47
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It can be modulating between keys, or it can be mostly in Dm. What the key "is" at each point depends on the selection and timing of the notes you play on top of the backing chords. You could make it sound like it's mostly in Dm, or you could make it sound like many other things. Here's an easy (?) Dm interpretation:

  • A : D melodic minor, sounding like it might be going to Dm next
  • F, Bb, Bb : D natural minor (or F major), sounding like it went to the relative major side F major (instead of Dm) at least briefly
  • A : D melodic minor, sounding like it went back to the minor side again, might be going to Dm
  • F : D natural minor or F major (same thing again)
  • G : D dorian, sounding like the next chord might be A which would break away from the dorian sound and lead back home to Dm
  • E : E mixolydian, sounding like the E is a secondary dominant heading for an A, and then back to Dm. The next repeat of the chorus with the A chord strengthens this feeling.

You might want to play an A7 chord on the second repetition of the chorus before heading back to the Dm verse, so it feels more natural.

On the G and E chords I would do a melodic variation of whatever happened on the Bb chords, complementing it in an "A-B-A-C" pattern.

  • Fantastic answer! Great scale suggestions and explanations. Makes a lot more sense now. I like the sound of D harmonic minor over the A chord as well. – Devin Brenton May 8 at 21:46

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