Originally published June 4, 2013
Here are a few sketches of songs that use 2 chords. I’ve written them out with C and G7, but if you read further, I’ll suggest some other chords and try and explain why they work so well together.
Jambalaya C...G7...C Honky Tonkin' C.........G7 Deep In the Heart of Texas C...G7...C Down in the Valley C...G7...C Row Row Row Your Boat C.........G7 C Three Blind Mice C G7 C Dreidl C...G7...C Hokey Pokey C...G7...C Iko Iko C...G7...C Tom Dooley C...G7...C
Tonic and Dominant Chords
A little music theory: in a particular key, the TONIC chord is the one that’s the home base. In the key of C, the tonic chord is C. The DOMINANT chord creates tension and interest before you go back home to the tonic. In the key of C, the dominant chord is G7. They’re also referred to by Roman Numerals: Tonic is I, Dominant is V.
2-Chord Pairs to Practice
These chords appear together a lot, because they’re the tonic and dominant chords in their respective keys.
I V C G7 D A7 F C7 G D7 A E7 Bb F7
To change keys, just substitute these chord pairs for the C and G7 listed above. It’ll still sound like the song, just a little higher or lower than before. Changing keys is an important skill for singers – a female singer usually needs a different key than a male singer, and vice versa.
There are LOTS of other songs to add to the list up top, including folk songs, country songs, holiday songs, and children’s songs. Even some rock ‘n roll. Keep your eyes and ears open and you’ll find there are a surprising number of really simple, easy-to-play songs you already know the words to.