SONGWRITING: the “six four one five” revisited

So I just did a lesson with a younger student who was absolutely dying to learn how to play “Let It Go”, from the Disney movie Frozen. Sung (and I guess played) by Idina Menzel (“Maureen” from RENT, and also the main girl in Wicked)…. immediately, I noticed the 6-4-1-5 progression in the key of Ab (F minor)….. but, with a slight twist in the very beginning…

The progression is 6-4-5…. with a II chord that feels/sounds like a Bsus4 to Bbm in bar 4.

Without getting too technical… my god, is this song catchy. It’s because of that insane 6-4-1-5 progression (in the chorus… as I – V – vi – IV), that has driven hit songs for over 50 years. Use it if you haven’t. I’ve found that this progression helps one come up with vocal melodies/lyrics almost instantly… it’s the magic of this progression, or ANY order you play it in:


vi – IV – I – V (Apologize by OneRepublic, this song’s chorus, and at least 947 other top 100 songs from the last ten years)

I – V – vi – IV (Let It Be by the Beatles, and every song The Axis of Awesome plays in the “Four Chord Song” YouTube video)


It’s overplayed, but it still rules the world.





About chriscaulder

Posted on May 5, 2014, in chord progressions, piano songs, songwriting, writing melodies. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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