Songwriting Archives - Riff Ninja

Category Archives for "Songwriting"

Boost Your Songwriting (Part 1 of 4)

Songwriting is something many guitar players aspire to, but few ever take the leap. In this series, we’re going to pull back the veil on a few different strategies you can use to create great-sounding chord progressions. That gets you partway at least… we’ll leave the lyrics and melody up to you!

In the first lesson, we’ll look at the six primary chords that are found in every key. You can arrange these in any order whatsoever, and they will work well together. From there, you can play with timing and rhythm and how long you stay on each chord, but it’s a great start to have ones that you know for sure fit together.

In the next lesson, we’ll learn an interesting trick to use chords outside of the key as well.

If you’re interested in further developing your songwriting skills, and learning to craft interesting and melodic chord progressions, we have many great lessons inside the Riff Ninja Guitar School that can help.

How To Be A Genius Songwriter With Just 2 Bar Chords

This lesson will show you how to be a genius songwriter with just two bar chords. Creativity is the essence of this lesson – be creative with what you’ve got! If you’re limited or just getting into things, here are a few hints.

The first bar chord you should learn is the F bar chord. There are a couple of tricks to getting it right. Hopefully you’ve already experimented a bit with the bar chord. Because it’s harder to get a successful bar chord closer to the string nut, it’s better to start practicing it further up the neck. When you’re barring, you’re not necessarily using the flat of your finger. You’re using more the edge of the finger, and sneaking the finger close to the fret that you’re behind. Centre the thumb in the middle of the chord you’re playing.

The F bar chord actually comes from the E chord. The E chord is played with the first finger on the third string first fret, second finger on the fifth string second fret, and the third finger on the  fourth string second fret. You’ve probably seen that chord before. To create an F chord from that, slide that up one fret, move your fingers so that you’re now using your second, third, and fourth fingers, and use your first finger to create the bar. The bar is basically a movable nut.

There are so many songs you can play by just moving that chord up the fretboard. If you can get the F major chord down, right there you know 12 major chords. These 12 chords all follow the chromatic scale: F F# G G# A A# B C C# D D# E

To get an F# minor, you just remove your second finger from the chord. You can go back and forth between the major and minor of that chord by simply removing and replacing your second finger. You need to learn how to combine the major and minor chords with each other, but this will give you the stepping blocks to be able to do that.

Combine open chords with bar chords as well. There’s no point in straining yourself when an open chord will sound just as nice as a bar chord.

By the way, the relative minor is always three frets below the major key that you are in. For instance, if you are in the key of B, the relative minor is three frets below – G# minor.

For more lessons like this, visit

Watch on Youtube

How to Be a Genius Songwriter With Just 4 Chords

This lesson is about how to be a genius songwriter with just four chords. The four chords used in this lesson are G, Em, C, and D. There are thousands of songs written with these chords. G C and D are the I, IV, and V of the G scale. They are also known as the three primary chords of the G scale. G is your tonic chord. The Em is the relative minor. Hopefully you already know how to play these chords.

This lesson shows you also how to use a capo. The capo used in this lesson is about a $10 one that is adjustable. It fits on many different sizes of guitars, even mandolins and banjos.

If you want to move from the key of G to the key of A, you need to move up a full tone, which is two frets. To do this with a capo, place the capo on the second fret. Centre it in the middle of the fret. The beauty of having an adjustable capo (as opposed to the spring clamp capo) is that you can adjust the capo until it has just enough pressure on it to sound in tune.

Now with the capo on, what used to be the G major chord is now the A major chord. What used to be C major is now D major, what used to be D major is now E major, and E minor has changed to F# minor.

An advantage to using a capo when writing a song is you can hear what it would sound like if you had one guitar playing an octave higher, and you can still play the same chords.

Also, if you place your capo on the 7th fret, what was in the key of G is now in the key of D (7 frets is 7 semi-tones). Think of your capo as a movable string nut. Just remember, the further up the fretboard you go, the harder it will be to fit your fingers between the frets. Placing your capo on different frets will change the colour of the song. Something in the key of C will sound totally different from a song in the key of G.

You can easily write many songs using the I, IV, V and relative minor of the key. Using the capo allows you more options with those four chords.

Watch on Youtube