Writing music happens in many different ways. Inspiration from your favorite artists, an emotional life experience, and a simple noodling session on guitar are all valid places for a new song to sprout.
As every songwriter knows, however, it’s not always this easy for the music in our heads to reach the real world.
Writer’s block can take many different forms, and is hard to overcome. At times like these, using the asset of music theory is an excellent way to break down the barriers that hold you back from creating new music. There’s a certain sound in the library of chords that can be especially useful in transforming an otherwise bland progression of music.
While the act of inserting this mystery chord is simple, the impact is substantial, so prepare to enter a new sonic landscape with the minor-IV chord. This chord appears in many places throughout music history, including "Devil in Her Heart" by the Beatles, "Creep" by Radiohead and "Sleep Walk" by Santo and Johnny, to name a few.
As you begin to feel where the best spots to place this sound exist, you can experiment with other altered chords that send the listener on a detour from the familiar to a new, exciting unknown.
Tyler Larson is the founder of the guitar-centric brand Music is Win (opens in new tab). His insightful, uncomplicated guitar lessons and gear demonstrations along with entertaining, satirical content about life as a musician receive tens of millions of video views per month across social media. Tyler is also the creator of the extremely popular online guitar learning platform, Guitar Super System. A graduate of Berklee College of Music, Tyler has been teaching guitar for over a decade and operates a production studio in Nashville, TN.