What do chords say to you?
Chords are a combination of three or more notes that blend harmoniously when sounded together. The sound of different chords carry with them a psychological or emotional effect on the listener. Generally speaking, major chords sound happy. Minor chords sound angry, or possibly sad. Suspended chords leave you hanging in mid air. They create suspense or anticipation. They sound and feel as though they should be resolved. Augmented chords are usually a setup. Like the suspended, you want them to resolve, but the augmented chord is more of a leading chord. It walks you into something. An entryway. Diminished chords may give you a feeling of continuance. Although these "meaning" definitions are somewhat subjective, they generally ring true to most people.
Chord progressions are a series of chords that make up the song. Chord progressions are what lead the listener through the song. In Western music, the root (tonic, or the key the song is in)can be considered home plate. Most music, to be satisfying, has to return home. It resolves. It goes back to where it started.
The melody is the notes that weave through the chord progression and ties them all together. The melody also is what is sung or played. It's the leading role of a tune.
Putting it all together.
The point of all these chord meanings, or emotional connotations is that they are tools for the composer. When used in combination, a great composer will be able to use chords, chord progressions, melodies, and orchestration to create a highly accurate degree of emotive communication. This is why music alone can make you laugh or cry. A great lyric, interpreted by a great singer, can add to this effect, giving it even more clarity. It's the emotive quality that chords and the other elements contain that move us.
WHAT DO CHORDS MEAN TO YOU? Each one of us has a set of life experiences that dictate how we respond to a particular piece of music. Paul McCartney said that people were always coming up to him to ask if a song was about this or that. Did it mean what they thought it did? He said that he would then explain what it meant to him, why he wrote it, and then he would tell them that if it meant something else to them, that was just fine. In other words, go ahead and personalize it. It may have a deep profound significance to you that the composer never intended. That doesn't necessarily make your interpretation wrong. The human brain is a complex part of the central nervous system. It would be unrealistic to assume that each person would have exactly the same response to a given song.
Chords and chord progressions can trigger practically any emotion you can name: fear, anger, love, hate, jealousy, dread, joy, happiness, heroism, sorrow, etc. They are not only the bricks and mortar of music, but the vehicle for emotive meaning in music.
Still more stuff...
- Being taken seriously.
- How my father became a star.
- So, you wanna' be a country star?
- Who do you like better, Garth or Gershwin?
- You'll eat what you're served...
- The Media: Out with the old, in with the new.
- It's great exposure.
Thoughts on some of the people I've played with or known.
- Charlie Rich
- Freddy Fender
- Smokey Robinson
- Jo-El Sonnier
- Randy Meisner
- Billy Swan
- Flaco Jimenez
- Augie Meyers
- Doug Sahm
- Jerry Lee Lewis
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