This first week’s challenge is to create a song that uses only two chords throughout and is at least a minute and thirty seconds. This length is a good middle ground between “just an idea” and a fully formed song.
Why only two chords? I’m getting rid of the annoying expectation for songs to have different chord progressions for different sections, and I’m keeping things as basic as possible! I could have said one chord, but it’s harder to come up with a good melody when there is no harmonic movement at all.
They don’t say “Less is More” for nothing. Here are some diverse examples of great (well, mostly great) songs that only use two chords throughout. It is amazing how memorable and catchy they can be with just the same two chord loop over and over! You’ll notice many of these songs keep you engaged not through harmony but through either catchy riffs and motifs, a well constructed melody, cool sounds, a unique mood, provocative lyrics, a great groove or a powerful performance!
Two Chord Songs In a Major Key:
- “Shout” by the Isley Brothers: I – vi (C-Am)
- “Haiti” by Arcade Fire: I – vi (G-Em)
- “Achy Breaky Heart” by Billy Ray Cyrus: I-V (A-E)
“Feeling Alright” by Joe Cocker: I – IV (C-F)
Two Chord Songs In a Minor Key:
- “505” by the Arctic Monkeys: ii – iii (Dm – Em)
- “Lose Yourself” by Eminem: vi – IV (Dm – Bb) (There’s a passing V chord [C] in the chorus)
- “Holdin’ On” by Citizen Cope: ii7add9 – I (D-7add9 – C) (There’s a passing #Idim going back to the ii)
In the next blog post I will share the steps along the way of my creative process! Stay tuned, and I hope some of you will take this journey with me. The deadline is Monday, February 15th at Midnight!