How To Write Chords Like 53 Thieves – What You Do To Me Dissection

53 Thieves make some beautiful sounding chords and music, and they’ve been taking the music world by storm pretty recently.

They have an incredible chill sound that takes influence from all kinds of future bass, but manages to wrap it up in a nice R&B style package.

In this article we’re going to cover exactly how 53 Thieves wrote the chords to their awesome track – What You Do To Me.

Btw, this article is part of a series of articles where I break down popular producers chords. I’ve done Medasin, Sam Gellaitry & Mr Carmack so far!

The Chord Breakdown

If you like that 👆, check out our free piano chord cheat sheet.

The entire track is written in the key of C#maj, or Dbmaj (whatever you want to call it). And there are 5 chords that pretty much repeat the same pattern throughout.

We’re gonna cover the main chords running through this.

If you’re clued up on your theory the progression is:

  1. IV (7sus2)
  2. IV (min7)
  3. I (min)
  4. IV (7sus2)
  5. IV (min7)
  6. I (min7)
  7. V (min)
  8. I (min)

Chord 1

The 1st chord in this progression, is the 4th chord out of the C#min scale: F#min (2nd inversion).

But you’ll want to add some extensions to this chord, and also make it a suspended 2nd, to give it a the same flavour and colour that 53 Thieves have.

To do this, you’ll want add a minor 7th, and place 2nd degree of the F#minor scale above the root (F#).

This probably sounds confusing, but don’t worry I’ll explain it easily.

First, you’ll want to find the minor7th. In F#minor, all you’ll do is count up the scale to the 7th note, which is E.

BUT!

Because it’s an inversion, you’ll want to play the 7th down an octave, in-between the C# and the F#.

F#min7 2nd inversion

Now you want to add the sus2, above the root note (F#). So, stop playing the A, and play the G#1 instead.

You play this because it’s the 2nd degree in the F#min scale, and we want a sus2.

In this particular track. 53 Thieves have also played the root note (F#) down an octave, to add more bass to the chord.

You could also add 2 F#’s in the octaves below to give it even more of a deep sound.

The final chord you will have is a F#7sus2, which looks something like this:

  • RH: C#, E(min7), G#(sus2), fingering of 1, 3, 5
  • LH: F#(root), fingering of, 1 (pinky)
F#7sus2 2nd inversion

Chord 2

F#min7

Chord 2 is pretty simple to understand from here. You’ll be playing it in the exact same hand shape and position you have now, so keep your crab claws in place.

Remember when we changed the A to a G# above? Well you’re going to be a tidy, good lad, and put it back where you found it ok?

So in this case we have:

  • RH: C#, E, F#, A, with fingering, 1, 2, 3, 5
  • LH: F#, octave down, played with pinky (finger 1)

You should have something that looks exactly like this diagram, I’ve left below.

And, as you can see from that above, all that has been changed from the sus2 chord, is the G#1 -> A.

Chord 3

The 3rd chord in this progression is a natural C#min chord. That means you don’t have to do any crazy inversions or anything like that, so you can relax a bit.

It’s the 1st degree in the C# minor scale, but the 3rd chord in this progression.

To get this chord, all you’re going to do is play this:

  • RH: C#, E, G#
  • LH: C#

It should look something like the diagram I’ve left below for you.

C# minor chord natural position

Chord 4

Chord 4 in this progression is one of the chords you’ve already worked out above, so you’ve already destroyed your nephew at Wii sports, and smashed it out of the park.

For this chord , you’ll want to go back to your trusty F#7sus2.

  • RH: C#, E(min7), G#(sus2), fingering of 1, 3, 5
  • LH: F#(root), fingering of, 1 (pinky)
F#7sus2 2nd inversion

Chord 5

The next chord in this progression is going to be a C#min7.

And, this one is pretty easy to work out, because it’s just your natural C#min7, with the C# played an octave down because it’s 2014, Meghan Trainor is a thing and you’re all about that bass.

Pretty much play an Emin chord with your right hand, go down and octave and play a C# in the bass.

To play this, you doing something like this with your hands:

  • RH: E, G#, B, fingering of, 1, 3, 5
  • LH: C# (octave down), fingering with your 1 finger (pinky)

Chord 6

The 2nd to last chord in the progression is a G#min chord. This one is also easy to play because it’s in the natural position.

To play the G#min chord, you’ll do this:

  • RH: G#, B, D#, fingering of,1, 3, 5.
  • LH: G# (octave down), fingering with 1st finger (pinky).

The chord should look like this:

Chord 7

The final chord! The penultimate triad or extension…

Is the simply the first chord you played in the beginning. So, you’ll want to go back to that F#7sus2.

The progression repeats after this pretty much throughout the song. There are some changes in rhythm in some places, but the chords don’t really move around.

53 Thieves Serum Sound Design Tutorial

I’ve also done a full tutorial on the sine chord that 53 Thieves use in – What You Do To Me. So, you can check that out below and add it to your Serum presets library!

What Do I Do To You? Give You Free MIDI & Serum Presets

If you want the full MIDI used in this tutorial, and the Serum preset for the patch I re-created from 53 Thieves – What You Do To Me, head over to our free downloads section.

This is part of a Serum pack that will be coming soon so keep an eye out on our YouTube.

That free download also comes with a secret link to our free downloads page, where you’ll be able to download all previous tutorial resources, free sample packs, a huge piano chord sheet, and a tonne more stuff!

Thank You & Goodnight!

Thanks for reading! I hope this helped you out on your music production journey.

If you did enjoy it, please feel free to share it around, and also be sure to join the Facebook group where you can request artists for me to do next!

We’ve also written a few more of these you might find helpful: