A new series

This is the first post in a regular series titled “Website of the week” which will highlight a website that’s useful for music teachers and their students. A variety of websites will be featured – from interactive music sites and teacher-authored blogs, magazine-style music sites and other general education technology websites. This week’s website of the week is Hook Theory.


Hook Theory allows you to study and analyse the progressions of thousands of songs.  You can work out strong chord progressions based on what has worked for other songs and listen to real-life examples.  Put together your own chord progressions and compose a melody using the online Editor tool.

What age students?

This tool is ideal for middle and senior-school students who are studying song-writing.



1. When looking at a song analysis in the Analyses section (above), switch from Chorus to Verse by using the drop-down menu at top right.

Hook theory melody

2. Once you’ve created a chord progression in the Editor  (above), Hook Theory can show you melody note suggestions. Hover your mouse over a chord at the bottom of the editor and the notes of that chord will be shown in the Melody panel, allowing you to make informed choices about which notes will sound good with your chosen chord.

HT Trends

3. Explore popular chord progressions in the Trends section (above). Click on a chord and see which chords will work well next.  Examples of songs using your chosen chord progression are provided.

How can I use it in music education?

There was recently some discussion about Hook Theory on the I Teach Music Technology Facebook Group page.  Music teacher Brian Rause from Wahconnah High School described how he uses it with his students:

“I have found that in teaching music tech, both elements need to be taught- music AND technology. The technology part is about how to use the software and the music part is chords, melody and all the rest.

So after my students have a good grasp on the mechanics of entering notes and how different plug ins work, I use Hook Theory to teach them about how chord progressions work. I have had a fair number of students who enter seemingly random notes as a melody in a project, and many times the bass lines and chord progressions that they come up with don’t agree with each other. Clearly, these students need some direction in WHAT to write now that they know how (and it’s becoming easier and easier to do so with programs like GarageBand).

The strength in the Hook Theory site is that it shows what chord progressions are common and why. It also give links to examples of popular songs that they can relate to further proving the need for guidelines when in comes to choosing the chords in a progression. Once they have a progression that they like and understand, the writing improves dramatically. The composition tool within the site allows them to see what notes are good choices over a particular chord. By hovering the mouse over a chord, the window displays the chord tones. Students are now less likely to choose an F# as a melody note over a G7 chord. These mini compositions can be exported into traditional notation, or MIDI for import into a DAW.”

How about you?

How will you use Hook Theory with your own students?