Watch the Changing Order of Chords online guitar lesson by Vicki Genfan from Acoustic Rhythm Survival Guide
Songwriters!! For this exercise, that means all of you!
TRY THIS: Get out your recording gear...
1. First, play the progression as we've been playing it, I -V-VIm-IV. Start out with 4/4 time and play each chord for 2 beats. Come up with a simple melody over it.
2. Start the progression with the second chord or the V chord...so it is V-VIm-IV-I. Come up with a simple (different) melody over this.
3. Start with the VIm chord: VIm-IV-I-V. Create your melody.
4. Finally, start the progression with the V chord: V-VIm-IV-I. Create your melody.
Listen back and see how each progression inspired a different melody idea. What if it didn't? That's cool too, but notice how the progression feels different. In particular, notice how the very last chord of each progression feels... does it feel resolved? Unfinished? Is there tension? Does one version of this appeal to you over the others?
Answer these questions and take notes. If you're a serious songwriter, this is good information for you to be gathering for future reference.