Why People Don't Sing Your Chord Progressions

In this Hack Music Theory video, you’ll learn why people aren't singing along to your chord progressions, and we’ll give you two hacks to solve this problem once and for all. But first... Tea!

Hello, we are Kate Harmony & Ray Harmony (AKA Revolution Harmony), and welcome to the Hack Music Theory show, where you are empowered with notation-free theory for making great music in DAWs.

HACK 1 - Chords Can Sing
Have you ever noticed how people don’t really sing along to chord progressions? Instead, they’ll wait for the vocals to come in, then sing along to the vocal melody. The reason behind this phenomenon, is that even the simplest type of chord (known as a triad), offers the listener a choice of three different notes to sing. And this choice happens with every chord in a progression. So for example, if someone is listening to a chord progression containing four triads, the amount of note choices is 3x3x3x3, resulting in a whopping 81 potential melodies to sing.

But wait, doesn’t that give them 81 reasons to sing? Nope, because this is the paradox of choice. It’s like when you’re in the grocery store trying to buy a box of organic green tea, but there’s shelves and shelves of different types of organic green tea (welcome to our world haha!), and as a result of the vast amount of choices, you’re totally overwhelmed and can’t decide, so you just walk away. And that is exactly what happens to listeners when they hear chord progressions; the vast amount of note choices totally overwhelms them, so they don’t sing any. Don’t worry though, our Chords Can Sing hack solves this issue once and for all, and will definitely get your listeners singing along to your chord progressions!

Right, so if you’ve used the chord hacks in our Songwriting & Producing PDF, you’ll be starting this hack with a well-written chord progression, which includes inversions and sus chords. Now, you need to pull out a melody from your chord progression (by choosing one note from each chord), for your listeners to sing along to. And once you’ve decided on your melody, copy and paste it an octave higher, so it’s now above your chords. This hack makes it sound like your chords are singing, which will in turn make your listeners sing. It works for two reasons: Firstly, it gives your listeners a defined melody to sing along to, and secondly, our ears are drawn to melodies in higher octaves, cos they’re in the vocal range, so doubling this melody above the chords (instead of below), pushes it to the front of the stage and into the spotlight!

HACK 2 - Motifation
Now that you’ve given your listeners something to sing, you need to give them the motifation to sing it! Listeners will only feel motivated to sing a catchy melody. And what makes a melody catchy? Yep. Motifs! A motif is a short musical idea, and by repeating it, you make your melody memorable. So now it’s time for what we call “motif hunting”. Motif hunting is when you search through your musical content, hunting for an idea that stands out. When you find that idea, you can then creatively repeat it, thereby turning it into a motif. Using our Chords Can Sing hack together with our Motifation hack, will ensure your chords not only sing, but their melody gets stuck in your listeners’ heads!

When we were motif hunting, we found something in our second bar: a beautiful descending melody, which really stands out due to its contour and rhythm. And by repeating that idea in our last bar, we’ll make our melody super catchy. So, let’s move down to the E on beat two, and add in a C♯ on beat 4, so the contour and rhythm match our second bar. And with that, we’re done!

The example in this video is the bridge section from of our upcoming single “Down with the Drama”, which features the amazing Sarah Serene on vocals. If you missed any of our previous videos on this song, check out our YouTube playlist.

Lastly, do you struggle to finish your music? If you do, then check out our online apprenticeship course, where you’ll learn how to effortlessly write new sections for existing sections, how to transition between them, and most importantly, how to finish your songs! For more info, just head on over to our Apprenticeship Course. Alright, enjoy the video/podcast.

Kate & Ray Harmony (AKA Revolution Harmony)
Music Teachers & Producers in Vancouver BC, Canada

1: Read our free book (below) & watch our YouTube videos
2: Read our "Part 1" book & "Songwriting & Producing" PDF
3: Learn how to become a song-whisperer, and effortlessly finish music!

Hack Music Theory is the pioneering notation-free method for making great music. Taught by award-winning music lecturer Ray Harmony, and his protégé (and wife) Kate Harmony, from their studio in Vancouver BC, Canada. Ray is the author of critically-acclaimed book series "Hack Music Theory", and has made music with Serj Tankian (System of a Down), Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine), Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree), Ihsahn (Emperor), Kool Keith (Ultramagnetic MCs), Madchild (Swollen Members), and many more. Kate has the highest grade distinction in Popular Music Theory from the London College of Music, and is the only person on the planet who's been trained by Ray to teach his Hack Music Theory method! While these Hack Music Theory YouTube lessons teach music theory for producers and DAW users, they are designed to accommodate all music makers (songwriters, guitarists, etc.) and all genres, from Electronic Music to R&B, Pop to Hip-Hop, Reggae to Rock, EDM/Dance to Metal (and yes, we djefinitely Djent!).