How to Use Guitar Chord Progressions to Build Your Song

Chord progressions are an integral component of most songs. By keeping it simple and adhering to your scales and finger positions learned thus far, melodies over these chords can also be constructed.

Chord diagrams depict which strings and frets are being played, with muted strings indicated by x’s and which fingers being used on which strings indicated by Os.


There are various categories, or types, of chords available. While learning all can be overwhelming at times, knowing some will allow you to create more complex ones.

A triad is the fundamental chord, consisting of three notes connected by what’s known as an interval of a third. Chords may also be blended together with chords from different scales to produce modulations effects which allow you to change the key of a song.

One effective method of determining the key of a song is by looking at its ending chord. Although this may take practice, this approach can quickly help identify which key is appropriate for any given tune.

Reading chord charts requires reading vertical and horizontal lines as strings, respectively. Numbered vertical lines indicate which finger should use each fingertip while letters or sometimes letters and numbers below reveal which chord it belongs to; strings with an “X” indicate non-play (mute it), while open, or power chord, strings can be found here as well.


A chord is any group of notes played simultaneously. Chords typically consist of tones from major scale tones; however, there are also minor chords and altered chords which use similar principles but differ in order of notes played.

A chord chart’s numbers below each note indicate when strings should be both pressed and strumming at once; when there’s an “X” above a string, though, that indicates you should avoid playing it altogether – these don’t represent an offbeat version of Tic-Tac-Toe; rather they simply show which ones should be played open or muted.

As part of your education in music theory (and some basic practice), it can be worthwhile to familiarise yourself with some basic music theory concepts to better understand how all this works. A triad is the term used for chords composed of three notes stacked from the same key – that way the 3 notes add up into one chord!


Once your chords and rhythm are established, it’s time to compose your melody. Melodies can be as complex or straightforward as desired; usually it’s best to adhere to chord tones (those notes that harmonize with each chord), in order to ensure they fit with chord progressions you’ve established.

Triad chords are the foundational form of chords. Made up of three notes separated by what’s known as an interval of third, to form these triads you simply add or subtract one note from the scale used to form them before playing the other two notes of the chord.

Chord extensions can add another dynamic layer to the sound of a chord and can add suspenseful surprises in your songs. A su4 chord, for instance, replaces the 4th note from either major or minor scale with 2nd note – making it particularly effective when placed directly before or after parallel major or minor chords.


Chord progressions form the backbone of songs. They dictate melodies, harmony and rhythm; therefore they’re essential knowledge for any guitarist regardless of genre they play – even beginners can write an original tune using chord progressions! Additionally, understanding music theory will aid your creativity when writing more complex melodies and sharpening up guitar playing abilities.

Chords come in both major and minor versions, and most beginners find open chords an effective way to learn them quickly. Major chords consist of root note plus its fifth note; minor chords differ by having a flat third; power chords combine elements from open and power chords by eliminating their third element for greater ease in playing.

A chord diagram displays which strings to play, the frets to use, and which fingers should play them. Lines represent strings while numbers represent which fingers should place on which fret. An x indicates any string which shouldn’t be played.