Music & Entertainment

Making a Beat: Starting With a Chord Progression


Lesson time 12:14 min

Complex songs can develop from simple ideas. Tim and his co-producers show how a four-bar chord progression can form the structure of a multi-section song.

Teaches Producing and Beatmaking
Step inside the production studio with Timbaland. In his first-ever online class, Tim teaches his process for creating infectious beats and making sonic magic.
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What do y'all got? What are we doing today? - I got this crazy sound with a crazy chord progression. [MUSIC PLAYING] - Oh. [MUSIC PLAYING] - Hey, hey, hey. OK, you got that? - I put that on a loop. [MUSIC PLAYING] So this sound, I have a bunch of-- I'm going to turn everything off, all the effects I have on it, and then explain what is going on. So the chords sound, which sound like this [MUSIC PLAYING] That's the raw sound. And then I threw a chorus plug-in on it. [MUSIC PLAYING] So that's with the chorus plug-in. And then I threw on EchoBoy on it to put it in a room. I kind of like-- there's this effect I really like. It's like a restroom effect, as if it was being played in a restroom. [MUSIC PLAYING] So I put that on there. And then I put another chorus on there. I doubled the effects on it. I don't know why. It just feels right. And I put it in another bathroom with a different setting. It's a little bit more wet on the mix. And then I threw some Valhalla. I put it in a big room. And then topped it off with Kickstart just for a side chain-- not too drastic, just at 62%, just to kind of give it a little pump, a little groove. And that's it for that sound. - Basically what we like to do is just find what feels right. It's like, you know, no one-- something that's different from others that's out there. We just trying to find-- We like to experiment with different feelings and different ambient sounds and just play around with it till the groove is right. So we'll go through a lot of different processes of the sound. And if you play something-- I like how we can manipulate a row and make it sound like a string sound, you know. You use space. You recreate this world of echoes that just don't stay in one place, like It's like So it feels like wind to me. We just go by the feeling. I don't know where to take it. I just let it take me where it's going to take me, you know. I just sit and vibe to it for a minute, and we just keep jamming out till we got the right parts. [MUSIC PLAYING] That's cool. [MUSIC PLAYING] [PLAYING BELL SOUNDS] [PLAYING DRUM SOUNDS] What tempo are we at, Tim? 110. [MUSIC PLAYING] Oh, oh, oh. Now see? You can keep it up. I gotta feel it while I talk. I got a mic on. I started off with this. I got to feel the vibe or the groove. Make sure I feel it. When I lay down percussion, I just try to find a groove and find space in the chords that make it groove or bounce that I want to bounce to-- not that I want to bounce to, but I think that's not the typical. I try to do something that's not typical. Like you could hear it one way. You could hear it four to the floor. I'd rather do it like-- I like to think about songs that I might have done like-- First I heard it like a dance, kind of one to the floor, but then I was like, wait a minute. I try to find that groove and that pocket. And here we are. [MUSI...

Find your beat

Grammy-winning music producer Timbaland takes you behind the boards to teach you his process for creating iconic tracks with artists like Jay-Z, Missy Elliott, Justin Timberlake, Beyoncé, and Aaliyah. In his first-ever online class, learn how to collaborate with vocalists, layer new tracks, and create hooks that stick. Step into Timbaland’s studio and learn from one of the industry’s most innovative hit makers.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

I loved it. I have always wanted to learn music from a hero of mine and I finally did. Thank you so much.

Loved this class !! Would've liked more of a demonstration with the beats. Maybe he could've played the Aaliyah song and mute certain tracks so we can see how he built it from scratch. I Loved this though!

Awesome. This class was about passion. And the joy that it brings makes you want to share it, collaborate. And to build off of others, with others. Vs the Deadmou5 class where it's really all about being closed off.

There is not so much explanation about mixing and mastering


A fellow student

And this one too! Thought this was very similar to Arms Around You, so much similarity to all these chart toppers.

Ryan J.

It would be good if this lesson was divided up similarly to the Deadmau5 lesson. Within a 20 min lesson there are division in the video timeline that you can see as you hover. This gives you a better idea of what Tim is talking about if you choose to skip around or re-watch a section.


Enjoying every chunk of this cake hahaha... It IS about da feeling, creating/hearing da song in ur head before playing/recording it, give this man another Grammy!

Dan C.

"We go by the feeling" you never hear this by other artists or gurus out there in the arts. It's all about "formula" or "how-to"....this guy is a Master because he understands at the core art is expression down through ages. No rules, just truths. First truth: Don't be dull...FEEL it. The form comes after.

Pranav V.

How did he chop up the audio sample in Logic Pro X by the pitch? He didn’t explain how he did that.

Joshua H.

Thank you for explaining the small details that make the song complete, like hearing why you chose the gritty high hat to match the tape sound. I feel like producers should take inspiration from the process, don’t try and emulate his sound exactly. Learn the software inside and out then let it sing in the momeng

Erik P.

"Once you have the bounce you don't need a lot" Really enjoying this and making me think in a different way like knowing where to space things.

Cody J.

Love the concept of alternating between the long bass notes and the short bass "stabs". Super dope!

A fellow student

Yes I liked it...but just wondering is there any software that can sync three seperate computers with different Daw's to the same Tempo?..I ask this question because Angel asked Timbaland what Tempo?I still Loved it..They're an Awesome Team..Great Job!!

Derek H.

@4:27 does anyone know what that silver piece of hardware in the lower left is with the dial in the middle?