Harmonic progression is a series of musical chords, or chord changes that aim for a definite goal, establishing the tonality founded on a root/key/tonic chord. Speaking theoretically, a key starts in the root chord. After that, chords meander through the other note arrangements (chords), making the 4 chord or the 5 chord along with other variations, within the given key. This journey starts and ends with the main chord of a key. For example, in the Key of C major, one of the basic chord (harmonic) progressions is C (1) – G (5) – F (4) – C (1). The chords that follow C (1) will always want to work their way back to C, the root of the song. In music, the song always wants to go back to the foundation.
Allow me to apply this to the Nashville experience.
Everyone comes here knowing what they want to do. They love to write music or they rock on the guitar or they light up when they sing. That would be the root chord – the point, the purpose, the passion. Then everyone meanders through this town, changing their look, changing their friend, having major and minor days. This is their personal harmonic progression. And at the end of every day they go back to the root chord, the one, the point, the passion.
Sometimes your song changes, but your key remains the same. Know your root, your passion, your purpose. What turns you on? When I sing every muscle in my entire body is engaged. My minds races with anticipation as I open my mouth to let out a note. When the notes come out, it is fourth of July in my musical soul. This holds true when I songwrite. The thought that when I write, I have written something that never was and never will be again, blows my mind every time. I struggle with lines and wonder if the word should be don’t or won’t. Down to the smallest detail the massaging of songs while songwriting get my mind going every time.
Sometimes the meandering takes you far away from the root and forget why you started your journey in the first place. Remember the root key, purpose. If it is singing, don’t give up – dig in and sing your heart out. If you love playing your instrument, don’t put it down – marry it and learn it inside and out. If words come to in your dreams and songwriting engages your creativity, don’t stop writing – keep making clever rhymes and marrying metaphors to paint pictures that have never been painted before. Don’t forget the root while your are progressing and aiming for the goal!
Enjoy your life’s harmonic progression – it is the only one you have!