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What is a chord?

A chord is a group of 3 or 4 notes that get played together at the same time. Chords provide the harmony to any melody. (see chord illustration below)

Chords are the foundation of every song ever written — something I never learned taking piano lessons as a kid.

More often than not, when a songwriter writes a song, they come up with the chord progression first, then the melody.

If you’re new to music terminology, the melody is the part of a song that is sung by the lead vocalist.

Coming up with the chord progression first is just how rock and pop musicians tend to write songs. That’s not to say that they don’t have other methods of writing songs.

However, writing the chord progression first is the most common songwriting technique used by pop, rock and jazz musicians.

What is a Chord Progression?

A chord progression is just a group of chords that repeat. The chord progression for the Intro of “Here Comes The Sun” by the Beatles is: A — A — D — E7, which is played twice.

  • This progression is also used here and there throughout the song, along with other chords.

In the Beatles chord example above; a pop musician knows instinctively that each chord gets four beats. They also know this by listening to the song — which is how rock musicians learn songs. 

It's how my friend taught himself how to play the piano at such a high level.

If I told you how I learned how to play the piano, you’d never even want to try — that’s how difficult traditional piano lessons can be.

It’s the reason why I quit taking lessons when I turned 18. I stopped playing altogether.

Obviously, at some point, I did start playing again. When I did start playing piano again, it was because I had learned a different way of playing — a way which is a thousand times easier than the way I was taught as a kid.

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