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Ideating Chord Progressions - I

In this article, we'll be looking at some tips to make your chord progressions sound interesting.

Note:  If you’re new to music theory or feel the need to brush up on basics, I strongly suggest checking out this lesson on music theory by Dawn

#1 Number and order of chords

Try shuffling between 2, 3 and 4 chord progressions. each has its own unique flavour. All your chords need not be the same duration. Watch the below clip to see what I mean.

#2 Rhythm - pauses & repetition

Sometimes, silence can make things better. This idea is even in music and especially in chord progressions. Also, every chord needn’t always start on the beat. Try breaking and repeating your chords with pauses. Some of the most memorable riffs or chord progressions use this idea. This is illustrated in the clip below.

#3 Slowing chords and creating dynamics

Slowing down just chords can sound beautiful, the way it interacts with the rest of your music. Digital instruments can respond to velocity, altering it across the notes can affect the tonal balance. We can also affect dynamics by including inversions and voicings. Check the below clip for some examples.

#4 Different chord types for more flavors

Beyond these basic triads, we have seventh chords, suspended chords, augmented chords, and so on, which can add a twist to the sound. Chords like this, when placed adjacent to the original triad can sound flavourful. See how expressive your music can be in the below clip.

#5 building a library

Midi clips can be reused in a new project or even in a different DAW!  Having a library of MIDI chord progressions organized according to key & scale is a great way to get unstuck, find inspiration, or speed up your production process. Watch the below clip to see how you can save and export midi clips for later use.

Got more ideas?

The above techniques should help you kickstart writing good chord progressions. Sharing is caring, so if you got any interesting ideas I've missed here, do share them in the comments below! We’ll be doing a part-II of this soon.

Hey guys, here's an overview of my masterclass!


Course Outline:

  • Structuring your Song
  • Understanding Sound Choices & Instrument Articulations.
  • Understanding and Application of Song Structure
  • Layering Sounds - Use of Instrument Rack
  • Advanced Workflow Tools
  • Fine Tuning in Arrangement View, Recording, and Editing Workflow
  • Editing features for faster workflow
  • Optimising CPU usage
  • Workflow advantages - Session v/s Arrangement View
  • Advanced Clip properties & Resampling
  • Recording Techniques for Audio and MIDI - Comping, Punch Recording, Capture
  • Advantages of Double Track recording
  • MIDI Protocol & Effects processing
  • Understanding and Application of MIDI Effects
  • Serial and Parallel Processing
  • MIDI Controllers for Parameter Manipulation
  • Designing Sounds - Part 1
  • Deep dive into Synthesis Fundamentals
  • Breakdown of Synthesizer functions using Operator
  • Wavetable Synthesis - MPE & MIDI Features using Wavetable
  • Designing Melody, Harmony and Percussive Sounds
  • Designing Sounds - Part 2
  • Introduction to Sampling - One Shot and Loop Based
  • Manual Sampling Techniques
  • Breakdown of Sampling functions using Simpler
  • Slice Mode Sampling Applications
  • Mixing : Gain Based Effects
  • Working on Volume & Stereo Balance
  • Managing Dynamics - Compressor, Gate, Limiter
  • Parallel Compression and Group Processing
  • Side-chain Processing
  • Mixing :Time Based Effects
  • Spatial processing with Reverb and Delay
  • Creative Processing with Reverb and Delay
  • Send and Return chains
  • Finishing your Mix and Exporting project

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