Creating Sad Music With Guitar Chords

Sad music can elicit a range of emotions and help lift one’s spirits. But creating sad songs requires more than simply picking chords; it requires skill and imagination as well.

According to a study published in the Journal of Musical Therapy, music can have an affect on people’s mood. Major chords and progressions tend to elicit happy emotions while minor keys and progressions tend to represent sadness.

Major Keys

When crafting music, one of the most crucial decisions you must make is whether your piece should be in a major or minor key. This decision has an immense influence on both its musical sound and emotional resonance.

Major keys tend to elicit feelings of joy, while minor keys elicit sadness and melancholy. There are twelve minor keys with seven notes each that can be used as the basis for creating a musical scale. These scales form the backbone of western music and have strong associations with basic emotions for most listeners.

Some people mistakenly assume that the emotions elicited by a certain key depend on its chords. However, this isn’t always the case and much can be determined by the style of music being used.

In many songs, the same chord can sound both major and minor depending on how it’s arranged. This tendency is especially prevalent when writing in a minor key as many songs bounce around between these two modes.

Aside from that, other elements can also have an important influence on how a song sounds. These include how it’s sung, its rhythms and the relationships between notes in the composition.

Another element to consider when listening to music is its tempo. Slower rhythms can often be very soothing and create a feeling of serenity. Additionally, consonant harmony and repetition are effective tools in cultivating this state of calm within listeners.

Finally, the pitch of notes in music can have an effect on its sound and emotional impact. A melody played at an unnaturally high or low key can have a detrimental effect on listeners’ feelings.

The most successful sad songs contain a harmonious combination of major and minor chords. This makes the track more memorable, as it will stay in listener’s minds, tempting them to return for another listen.

Minor Keys

On guitar, there are various techniques for playing sad music. Double notes and semitone hammering and pulling, pinch harmonics and using a wah pedal – all these things can create an intensely sad atmosphere in a song.

For an extra challenging performance, incorporate some minor third intervals into your playing. This key degree makes a song sound minor and it’s what you typically hear when listening to songs in minor keys.

Major and minor keys are so ubiquitous in music that it’s not uncommon to hear songs in these keys being performed at weddings, funerals, and other special occasions. Additionally, musicians often specialize in one key and memorize all the chords, progressions, patterns, licks, runs, and riffs associated with that specific key.

D minor is known to be the saddest of all keys, and many believe that it best captures feelings of loss and grief. Nigel Tufnell, a renowned guitarist from Spinal Tap, once said that D minor “is indeed the saddest of all keys”.

Composers have long considered D minor to be a melancholy key, ideal for laments, dirges and requiems. It also conveys feelings of death and eternity.

Contrary to popular belief, not all songs in minor keys are depressing. Some can actually be quite upbeat and serious – for instance, Handel’s Water Music and Albinoni’s Adagio both contain C minor.

It’s essential to note, though, that the associations between major and minor keys may not be universal – they could simply be culturally imposed. In Papua New Guinea for instance, a song in D major may be perceived as upbeat while one in F minor would likely be considered melancholic.

To determine whether a song is in minor key or not, listen for the scale used to build its chords. Most minor keys consist of one of three types: natural minor scale, melodic minor scale and harmonic minor scale. With practice you’ll be able to distinguish between these varieties of minor scales and choose which one best suits your songwriting needs.

Emotional Melodies

Emotional melodies are essential components of sad music, helping to convey the feeling and emotion to the listener. These can either be simple chord progressions or expressive solo melodies; no matter which type is chosen, it should be composed with sadness in mind.

Minor keys are an integral element of sad music. Being the most melancholy key, they elicit feelings of anxiety and the soul’s deepest distress, making them ideal for laments, dirges and requiems.

Sad music often utilizes a lower overall pitch, creating an intimate atmosphere. This is because the human ear is more sensitive to lower notes than higher ones.

Sad music often uses slower tempos to elicit feelings of melancholy. This is especially true for instruments like piano or guitar which can sustain notes for extended periods.

When crafting an emotional melody, it’s essential that it be performed slowly and steadily with great attention paid to harmonies and note flow. Furthermore, using minimal rhythmic parts and percussion will add a deeper emotional impact to the song.

Many emotional melodies are composed in a less dense style, meaning fewer instruments play simultaneously and the overall arrangement feels bare and exposed – leaving the listener feeling vulnerable. Therefore, it’s wise to select your instrumentation carefully and build the arrangement to add this sense of loneliness into the overall vibe of your song.

By employing these techniques in your emotional music, it can achieve that powerful tear-jerking effect that causes people to cry. Examples of such songs include:

Other emotionally wrenching melodies can be particularly poignant when they focus on loss or other difficult experiences, like death. Songs like “Tears in Heaven” and Eric Clapton’s “Slow Train Coming” are two such poignant songs you may ever experience.

Emotional Progression

One way to convey the emotional depth of sad music is through chord progressions. These repeated chord sequences can be found across many genres and provide a strong foundation for songwriters to build upon.

Chords are composed of three or more notes that create harmony based on their relation to one another in a song. Chords can be classified into major keys and minor keys; generally speaking, major keys produce happy chord progressions while minor keys produce sad music.

When crafting a song, it’s essential to select a key that will produce the best sound. Furthermore, select something easy on the instrument for optimal playability.

When writing your song, the tempo should also be taken into consideration. A slower tempo works best for piano songs while a faster one creates an upbeat and energetic feeling.

Once you’ve chosen your key, it’s time to write out the progressions. It would be beneficial to consult a chord chart or some pieces of music theory in order to construct each step individually.

Start by playing through various chord progressions in the key you have selected. This will give you an idea of what feels right and doesn’t work for your piece.

For instance, the D minor scale is an ideal starting point as it contains many low frequencies that will elicit feelings of melancholy. You can also experiment with different melodies to see which works best for you.

The melody you select for your song can make a significant difference in whether it elicits feelings of sadness or joy. It’s essential to remember that there is no set formula for crafting an emotive melody.

One of the most beloved progressions for songs that elicit feelings of sadness is the ’50s progression. This sequence can be heard in numerous pop and doo-wop songs and has been proven to elicit emotion. This progression begins with an i chord, then moves onto a V chord before concluding with an IV chord.