"Song Structure basics and variations"

by E.Koreman (Jan 25, 2011)

OK, good question. Hard to answer since there are a lot of songs and music can be very complicated. Let's make things simple.

You know the major scale like C major?

Now let's make chords. Make the 1st, 4th and 5th major, the others minor, skip B.
C major
D minor
E minor
F major
G major
A minor

For convenience I will call C major, F major and G major C, F and G. The minors like Dm.

A lot of songs use these chords. Example:

Just try these chords to get familiar with it and try to recognize the same kind of chords in songs.

Of course you may play in another key as well. The 1st, 4th and 5th as major chords, the 2nd, 3rd and 6th as minor. You see this a lot in blues, pop and rock. For blues music you can play a solo in a pentatonic minor over it. Say you have a blues song with F major, B# major and C major you may play these notes over all three chords:

E 1 - 3
B 1 - 3
G 1-2
D 1-2
A 1-2
E 1 - 3

I would also suggest you'd learn the circle of fifths.