No matter what the genre may be, every song has a chord structure to be played off of. Chord structures are the most essential part o making a song, without them the song would be hollow and have no shape. A chord structure is either the first or second part of a song to take shape, the other option for the first would be the melody. A chord structure is essentially the order and length of how a series of chords are played. These chord structures often follow patterns, which can be easy or hard to identify. Once the chord structure is in place, it dictates what can be played over top of it. Only certain notes can be played over top of each chord, so the melody must fit the chord structure, or the opposite way around.
Writing a chord structure can often be a difficult task, especially if you do not know many of the common patterns. However, this can be made much easier by doing exercises such as writing out the chord structure from other songs, and learning the patterns that other artists use. This is what I have been working on with my mentor. He assigned me a song called All of Me, and my task is to write out the melody and chords. This may seem relatively useless to some, but the trick is that after having done this for many songs, I ill be able to easily identify patterns that can be put to use in my own songs. Writing out the chord structure and melody just from hearing a song is also beneficial due to the fact that it forces you to play the notes of the song just by having heard them, which greatly improves your playing abilities, and also allows you to write out your own melodies in the future with ease.
So far the hardest part of writing out these chords has been identifying which chord variation it is. For example, a C chord would be the base of the chord, the simplest version. You can also add the seventh note of the C scale, which would change how the chord sounds and make it a dominant C7 chord. The can also drop the seventh by one half step on the scale, which would make it a regular C7 chord. You can also drop the 3rd note one half step, which would make it a C minor chord. These combinations are vast, and for me they have been hard to identify. One of the hardest parts of it has been telling the difference between a raised or lowered 7 in a chord variation, since they both sound very similar. However, with some work I will eventually be able to tell the difference very quickly.
Working with my mentor, I have found that we disagree very rarely. I have seen him play at professional concerts, and he knows what he’s doing, so I don’t often question him on his teaching strategies. No matter how tedious they may seem, i have seen a great improvement on my playing abilities through the use of his teachings, so I do not often question him. The only time i may disagree with him would be things like identifying a chord, where sometimes I may believe it is a different chord than him. However, in the end, he is usually able to prove me wrong, which is not surprising due to his decades of experience transcribing and playing songs. Even then, our discussions usually fit more into the differ category rather than blatantly disagreeing, since I know that his point of view is almost always extremely valuable.
Some of the things that I agree the most with him have been his transcribing exercises to improve my song writing abilities. It is clear to see for me how it is beneficial to be looking at how other artists write their songs. Painters will look at other artists to see what techniques they use, so it seems obvious that it would be beneficial for me to be doing the same. However we still do have our differences. The most prominent example is how much effort I am able to put into some of his assignments. He plays professionally, so he puts a large amount of effort into his music. However, i am very busy with school and sports, so I am not always able to put as much effort as eh would like into my music studies. Although this may slow down the process by a bit, we are still able to work around the time constraints by spacing out lessons so that i have enough time to complete any assignments he may give me. To do this, we discuss during our lessons what timeline could work bet for both of us, so that we can make it work around our schedules.