Psychedelic Rock Chord Progressions to Create an Otherworldly Sound

Psychedelic rock chord progressions can transport you and your listeners to another world. Learn how to create this sound in your own music.


In music, a chord progression is a series of chords played in a progression. Psychedelic rock is a genre of rock music that emerged in the 1960s that was influenced by hallucinogenic drugs. The first use of the term “psychedelic” in relation to rock music was by critic Ralph J. Gleason in 1966.

Psychedelic rock chord progressions often include modal interchange, which gives the music a dreamlike quality. The chords might move in unexpected ways, creating a sense of unease or disorientation. The disruption of tonality can create a feeling of floating in space or falling through the cracks.

Some well-known examples of psychedelic rock chord progressions include:

The Doors – “Light My Fire”
The Rolling Stones – “She’s a Rainbow”
Jimi Hendrix – “Purple Haze”

What is Psychedelic Rock?

Psychedelic rock, also referred to as psychedelic pop, is a style of rock that emerged in the mid-1960s and became increasingly popular in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The genre is characterized by its use of distorted guitars, drums, and vocals, as well as its experimentation with different sounds, effects, and song structures. Psychedelic rock emerged as a reaction to the British Invasion of the early 1960s, and was influenced by genres such as rhythm and blues, garage rock, and surf rock. The genre’s popularity peaked in the late 1960s with bands such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and The Doors.

The Origins of Psychedelic Rock

Psychedelic rock is a style of rock music that emerged in the mid-1960s and was popularized in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The style is characterized by distorted guitars, driving rhythms, and mind-bending song structures.

Psychedelic rock developed out of the garage rock, surf rock, and blues-rock scenes of the early 1960s. The first psychedelic songs were written by artists like Bob Dylan, the Byrds, and the Beach Boys, who were influenced by the mind-expanding properties of LSD. As LSD became more widely available in the mid-1960s, psychedelic rock began to flourish. The genre reached its commercial peak in 1967 with hits like “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” by the Beatles and “Somebody to Love” by Jefferson Airplane.

While psychedelic rock was originally meant to be an exploration of altered states of consciousness, it soon became associated with recreational drug use and hedonistic lifestyles. This led to a backlash against the genre in the late 1960s and early 1970s, which signaled the end of its popularity. Today, psychedelic rock is appreciated for its groundbreaking sonic innovations and pioneering spirit.

Psychedelic Rock Chord Progressions

The psychedelic sound of the 1960s was characterized by distorted guitars, mind-bending sound effects, and trippy lyrics. This unique style of rock music was influenced by jazz, blues, and folk music, as well as Eastern Indian and African music.Psychedelic rock chord progressions often made use of modal scales and unusual time signatures, which contributed to the hazy, dreamlike feeling of the music.

Here are some of the most popular chord progressions used in psychedelic rock:

-A minor to E major: This progression gives a song a feeling of restlessness and longing. It is often used in songs about loss or unrequited love.
-C major to G major: This cheerful sounding progression is often used in songs with positive or uplifting lyrics.
-D minor to G major: This dark sounding progression is perfect for songs with sinister or foreboding lyrics.
-E minor to A major: This is a sad sounding progression that is often used in songs about heartbreak or betrayal.

How to Use Psychedelic Rock Chord Progressions

Psychedelic rock chord progressions are some of the most interesting and unique sounding progressions you can use in your music. They often times contain major 7th chords, which give them that distinct trippy sound. Here are a couple of tips on how to use these progressions in your music.

1. Use a lot of reverb and delay.
Reverb and delay are two effects that will help create an otherworldly sound. By creating a long tail on each chord, it will make it sound like the chords are floating in space.

2. Create tension with sus2 or sus4 chords.
By using sus2 or sus4 chords, you can create a sense of tension that will add to the psychedelic feeling of the progression. These chords are often used as passing chords, so they don’t need to resolve to anything in particular.

3. Add in some unusual chord shapes.
Adding in chords like 9ths, 11ths, and 13ths will further the psychedelic sound of the progression. These “extended” chords are often used in jazz progressions, but they can be used in any genre when used tastefully.

4. Use a lot of modulation effects.
Modulation effects like phasers and flangers will help to create movement in the progression and make it sound even more otherworldly


To sum it up, these are some of the most popular chord progressions used in psychedelic rock songs. Experiment with different combinations to find what works best for you and your band. Remember, the goal is to create an otherworldly sound that takes the listener on a journey. With a little practice, you’ll be writing psychedelic rock masterpieces in no time!

Similar Posts