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How to Create Beautiful Chord Progressions

What is your first instinct when somebody asks you to play a C chord? Depending on your knowledge of music theory, you might bust out a second inversion C major triad. Or you might opt for a luxurious C Major7 (9) chord. Still others will default to the classic open-position C shape we learned in our beginning phases.

These are all correct responses, but understanding how to implement each of these variations to construct the most expressive music is an extremely useful exercise, especially when you’re a developing songwriter or improviser.

In my Guitar Super System course, I provide an array of chords and demonstrate how to integrate them into your guitar playing so you can access them in any musical situation, whether you’re writing the next hit song or just trying to convey the sound that resonates with you.

In this video lesson, we’ll take a generic chord progression and transform it into something that feels like a real guitar part. There are multiple strategies you can put into action, such as using a different picking technique, substituting chord forms and even adding new chords as transitional bridges.

Understanding how to execute these tactics will come from emphasizing creativity in your own guitar playing, so everyone will have a different outcome. As musicians, we have an innate desire to express the music we hear in our heads, and an understanding of music theory is helpful in providing a multitude of different choices to assemble truly beautiful chord progressions and melodies.

In the end, whether you understand harmonic analysis or prefer to rely on your ear to tell you what’s right, you’ll find that being mindful of each chord in a given chord progression and how they work together will dramatically effect the end result.

Tyler Larson is the founder of the guitar-centric brand Music is Win. 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.