last update: 23-10-2012

Spinning around four chords:


Great rock songs
that get away
with a minimalist
musical structure



   By "minimalist musical structure" I mean the following:
  1. There are only 4 chords throughout the whole song
  2. There is no bridge
  3. The refrain also has the same chords (very unusual indeed)
  4. The instrumental break (if there is one) also has the same chords
  5. Each chord covers one bar

   Thus 4 chords are repeated throughout the whole song. For example, in the song Wheels by the Foo Fighters, which consists of 176 bars, the chords D A F#m E are repeated 44 times (44 x 4 = 176).

   How is this possible without boring people to death? Among other things it's possible because

  • above all, the tune changes
  • the rhythm changes
  • the arrangement changes
  • the lyrics change
  • it's simply a great song

   Below you will find some examples.


  Foo Fighters: 


D   A   F#m   E  
  Tracy Chapman: 

Talkin' bout a Revolution

G   C9   Em   D(4)  
  Tom Petty: 

Free Fallin'

D   G   D   A4 capo 3rd
  Tom Petty: 

Learning to Fly

F   C   Am   G  
  Lee Ryan: 

Turn Your Car Around

Am   C   G   (F) actually the song is in G#m (!)
  Of Monsters and Men: 

Little Talks

Am   F   C   (G) capo 1st

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2012 by Bernd Wahlbrinck, Home of the Wadel, Germany.
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