Chord Keys

© I.Woloshen

Here’s an email I received recently:


If I write a song and start playing the first chord as (A) what other chords can I use that would fit. Usually I go to the C to G type, but that’s because I’m limited. How can I find a wide selection of chords that would that would fit ? especially with minor chords.”

When I first started to learn how to play guitar, every new “neat” chord or progression I learned ended up being in a song 🙂 The more I learned, the more I wrote! So I understand completely the limitations that pop up when you don’t know your instrument all that well. Translation: Learn your instrument!

Here is my simple explanation of very basic chord theory…I hate theory, but it helps to know some of it so you can expand your understanding:

First of all, chords are grouped together in families called “keys”. These chords all relate to each other, which is why they sound good together! If you sit down and look at the chords to a lot of popular songs, you’ll notice that very often the same chords will be together in different songs. If you see a song with a “G” in it, you’ll often also see a “C” and/or a “D” too.

Below, I’ve listed some keys, and all of their relative chords. If you play these chords together, you’ll notice that they all sound like they work together…voila!

Chord Keys
Chord Keys

So that’ll give you a few chords to work with. But of course there are MANY, MANY more different types of chords! Not only that, but you don’t HAVE to use chords in the same key…experiment by throwing a chord in a different key in somewhere…that’ll give a little musical twist to a song! Nirvana was a band notorious for writing songs with chords that were in different keys…it gave a kind of strange mood to some of their material that was part of their ‘sound’. What’s your sound going to be? 🙂

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