Explaining Major Line Clichés
There are many techniques we can use to spice up our chord progressions, and the one we’ll learn about today is major line clichés. Some of the topics that we’ll cover include what is a major line cliché, and how can we incorporate them into our songwriting.
This blog post aims to summarise the first part of our video ‘4 Chord Tricks The Beatles Knew (and you should too!)’’. Click here to watch the video for more details, explanations and examples.
What Is a Major Line Cliché?
A major line cliche is a chord progression technique that involves taking a major chord and shifting one note within the chord down by a semitone. This subtle movement creates a beautiful sequence of chords that enhances the emotional impact of a song.
In the case of the song “Something” by The Beatles, the major line cliché is demonstrated in the opening chords: C Maj, C Maj 7, and C Dom 7. If you write out all the notes in these 3 chords, you’ll notice that the higher C in C Maj just gets lowered by a semitone for each successive chord.
Although these chords may appear complex on paper, they are easy to use once we understand how they are formed. This then enables us to form interesting and beautiful chord progressions to use in our songs.
Click here to download a free PDF which contains major and minor line cliches in 2 positions:
Examples of Songs that Use Major Line Clichés
- “Michelle” by The Beatles
Another iconic track by The Beatles, “Michelle,” features the major line cliche in a captivating manner. The song begins with a C Maj chord, followed by a descending movement of the highest note in semitones, resulting in C Maj 7 and C Dom 7 chords. This creates a harmonically rich and evocative sound that complements the song’s romantic atmosphere.
- “Kiss Me” by Sixpence None the Richer
The 90s hit “Kiss Me” by Sixpence None the Richer also incorporates a major line cliche. In this song, the progression starts with a G major chord, and the highest note is successively moved down by semitones, leading to G major 7 and G dominant 7 chords. This creates a melodic and enchanting quality that adds to the song’s memorable appeal.
How to Incorporate Major Line Clichés into Our Songwriting
Although learning about major line clichés via song examples is useful, we must also try to make them our own. Otherwise, we run the risk of merely mimicking songs, instead of learning from them and using them in our own ways.Here are a few ways we can make the major line clichés we’ve just learnt into our own:
- Key Changes
Experiment with transposing the chord progression to different keys, allowing you to explore new tonalities and thus evoke different emotions. For example, change a song in C Major to maybe D Major instead. The keys aren’t that far away from each other, but the change creates a different feel and sound to the ear.
- Changing the Tempo or Time Signature
Altering the tempo or time signature of a major line cliche can also bring a fresh perspective to the progression and open up new creative avenues.
- Change the Feel, Style or Groove
Explore playing the major line clichés you’ve learnt in different ways. This can allow you to discover song ideas you hadn’t thought of before. Maybe a slow chord progression might sound nice played upbeat instead or vice versa.By employing these strategies, you can transform the major line cliché into a tool that expresses your individuality and adds a personal touch to your songs.
Conclusion: Explaining Major Line Clichés
Major line cliches, exemplified in songs like “Something,” “Michelle,” and “Kiss Me,” are a testament to the enduring beauty of chord progressions in pop music. By understanding and embracing these techniques, you can add a touch of personality to your songwriting.
If you want to explore major line clichés in more detail, click here for a playlist on how to adapt chord progressions from other songs in really creative ways.
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