Chords are a crucial part to producing music, and knowing the theory behind them is extremely powerful.
Now I know it's not what everyone wants to hear, but I'm adamant that you need to learn basic music theory if you want to progress further in your music ventures.
I remember when I first started producing.
THEORY JUST FELT SO OVERWHELMING.
But don't worry. It's actually really easy.
So let's get started.
If you'd like to learn piano we recommend this course: here
By the end of today's post you will:
- Learn how to make chords in the minor scale.
- Have the foundations to build ANY piano chord in the A minor scale and know the basics on how to create a melody.
- Be able to write a chord progression using the piano roll in your DAW.
HOW TO MAKE CHORDS: Scales
For this piano tutorial, we will be using the A Minor scale to create a simple chord progression and then we'll get onto some advanced stuff.
The A Minor scale is simple, don't worry. What I want you to do is find the ‘A' note on your keyboard on in your DAW.
Just play all of the white notes after and voila you have your very own A Minor scale.
So I hear you cry: how do we make use of this for chords?
Let me show you:
Using your A minor scale, we're going to make an A minor chord on the piano. So… I want you to count (including the black notes), 3 notes up. We call these 1 note steps semi-tones by the way.
Confused about scales? We've got you: how to play scales
If you've counted three up, you should have arrived at C.
I now want you to count up 4 semi-tones (from c) and arrive at the E note.
There you have it, an A Minor chord! A, C & E. We call this an A Minor Triad, as it only has 3 notes (more on that below).
Here's the theory behind that chord. Every minor chord uses the formula I'm about to show you.
We're going to number each note of the scale (1-8). Number 1 = A, number 8 = A. Everything in-between (minus the black notes) is what makes your A Minor scale.
The formula I mentioned above? Every minor chord including the a minor chord use this:
1, 3, 5
So you'd play Number 1 = A, Number 3 = C and Number 5 =E
All you need to do to play the rest of the A Minor scale chords on the piano is, keeping the exact same finger position or spacing, move your bottom note to the B. The rest of the notes travel with it, always with the exact same spacing.
And so on.
If you want to stop there, you now know how to create some beautiful chords in A Minor.
For those of your who want something a bit more advanced, to add just a bit more spice. Stick around.
Now we have the basic: 1, 3, 5 Minor Chord, we can begin to add extensions.
Adding an extension is just adding an extra note to the chord. So instead of playing 3 notes, you'd be playing 4 notes and the difference is incredible!
HOW TO CREATE CHORD PROGRESSIONS USING THIS KNOWLEDGE
Like I mentioned above, the scale is numbered from 1 – 8 (A – A). Now like each scale note, each chord starting from that note is numbered. So our A Minor chord would be 1 and our C Major chord would be 2.
Once we've got this knowledge we can start to look online for “chord progressions”. You'll find loads of stuff on this with a quick google search, but I'll give you one right now.
5, 3, 1.
This is a very common chord progression used in tonnes of music and is very effective. Give it a go using the above knowledge to help you. Also remember to add the 7th note for a bit more of a Jazzy feel.
Well that's all for today.
Thank you so much for hustling to the end. I know this stuff is difficult so you deserve a pat on the back.
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Keep grinding Whipped Cream fam.
With over 8 years of hands-on experience in the music industry, Harry has run successful raves, played alongside industry heavyweights such as Max Chapman, DJ EZ, DJ Zinc and more (pictured below), had music played on national radio, DJ'd on live radio, produced until he hated every song, mixed until his ears bled, created sample packs from scratch using just a Zoom H1n and some sound design skills… and pretty much anything related to music production – he's done it, tested it, tried it.