Chord Progressions De-Mystified

Aug 10, 2022

Chord Progressions De-Mystified

How to use this secret weapon to bring your music production to the next level

This article is aimed at hip-hop producers and beat makers who want to improve their music by creating chord progressions. If your only experience is in making hip-hop beats with bit-crushed sounds, big bass, and hard kicks, you might be surprised how much you can add to your music with chord progressions. In fact, this is a key element that is required if you want to make beats in the style of popular artists such as NBA Youngboy, Lil Baby, Rod Wave, etc… Even though chord progressions are a key element to making music and can be used to add a lot of depth and emotion to a song, many beat makers ignore them and just make beats with different drum loops and hi-hats. This article is here to show you that you can expand your songwriting to add many additional layers and textures to your tracks.

The Secret To Writing Hit Records

A chord progression is a series of chords that are used to accompany a song. But at the same time, a chord progression is more than just that. It is the emotion you can feel in a song, and it’s a secret weapon that songwriters use to craft your favorite songs. regardless of the chords that are used, they naturally create a sense of movement. This movement often forms the backbone of the song, driving it forward, and creating that sense of completeness that you feel right as the song ends. Chord Theory 101 Chords naturally carry certain characteristics- tension and release -Based on the harmonic relationship of the notes that make up the chord. Every sound you hear is a vibration, and the speed at which the vibration is happening, we hear as pitch. A chord happens when two sounds are vibrating at different speeds that happen to create a perfect mathematic ratio. For example, one is vibrating twice as fast, which creates a 2:1 ratio. This would sound good. In other words, certain notes sound natural like they belong together, this creates a sense of security. But when you take those notes and start to change the pitch, moving progressively farther away from that perfect mathematic ratio, It creates tension as the notes drift farther and farther away from where they “should be”.. Songwriters take advantage of this phenomenon and use it to their advantage, and when strategically planned with melodies, lyrics, and rhythm, well, that’s how hit records are made.

How Many Chord Progressions Are There?

There are many different types of chords and they each have a different sound, meaning, and mood. The first and most basic type of chord is triads, which simply means that there are three notes in the chord. (think tri- ad as in tri- angle)They are built by using the 1ist 3rd and 5th interval. Ok, So What Is An Interval? An interval in music theory is the distance in pitch between two notes. It is measured in consecutive notes of a specific diatonic scale. This means that if you pick a key or scale, let’s say the C major scale, the 1st interval would be the first note, C. 3rd interval would be the third note, and 5th interval would be the fifth note Since the C major scale is made of the notes C, D, E, F, G, A, and B, And since we started on note C, then a C major triad would be noted as C, E, and G. Major chords and minor chords are the most common triads but there are also diminished triads and augmented triads, However, that is outside the scope of this article. The second type of chord is the seventh chord. Seventh chords are more complex than triads but they are built in the same way, but with an extra note on the 7th interval added. C E G B Next are the ninth chords. Ninth chords are more complex than seventh chords and follow the same structure, by adding a note on the ninth interval.

What is a Chord Progression?

A chord progression is a specific sequence of chords, often over a 4 or 8-bar phrase, that repeats throughout the song. There are many different progressions but I can point out a few of the more popular ones, But first, we need to discuss something called roman numeral analysis. When In Rome A Roman numeral analysis is a method in music theory of analyzing and communicating chord progressions. Each roman numeral — I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, IIX — represents the respective root note of a corresponding chord within a chord progression. Furthermore, a capital roman numeral — IV, II, etc…— refers to a Major chord while lower case roman numerals — iv, ii, etc… — refer to minor chords. This lets us analyze the chord progression of a price based on its scale intervals, breaking free from the restriction of the scale itself. This might sound confusing but after some examples, it becomes much easier to understand.

Chord Progressions In Practice

So say we have a chord progression, written as “I - IV - V - I"" and we are working in the key of C that would mean first to play a chord built on the I interval (C-E-G) Then a chord is built on the IV (F-A-C) Next play a chord built on V (G-B-D) And Finally, Back to I (C-E-G). Keeping this structure in mind you should be able to understand the following chord progressions… -I-IV-V- -I-V-IV- -I-vi-IV-V- -I-vi-VI-IV- These are all examples of chord progressions and you can feel free to use them in your music and experiment with different keys.


If all of this seems a little overwhelming, that’s okay. That’s how it is for everyone. Music is a complex subject when you start to dig deeper. What I usually recommend is to take it a step at a time. Take what you learned today and practice until you fully understand the concepts. One thing I like to do, and something that helped me learn quickly is I would purchase loop packs from other beatmakers and music producers, and then I would analyze how it was composed. I would look at the notes and scale and their relationship to each other. Doing this helped me gain a solid understanding of the concepts while at the same time giving me more content to use in my beats. It was killing two birds with 1 stone.