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Arts & 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 am not a music producer but this peek into Timbaland and his partners making music, just touched me. Inspiring!

I learned that anyone can learn and teach the technical side of music. But it takes a true artist, who loves and appreciates the gift God has given him, to teach how to feel music. Thank you Timbaland. I can't wait till I'm able to make people feel what I feel in music.

This class makes me do make music for the first time. I get the energy that he gives me.

Little specific knowledge in this one, but goes through the process and inspires. Some deepet analysis of the plugins would (have) be(en) useful.


Robert P.

As Timberland said in the beginning. There’s lots of technical tutorials online. Danny Elfman is also self taught, and whilst they obviously were influenced and inspired to create vastly different music. There’s something intuitive and brilliant about how their minds work. It seems clear Timberland surrounds himself with guys who ( at least initially) appear to have perhaps had more technical expertise. There’s something intrinsically endearing in his love for creativity and grasp on his mania and capability to reign it in that technically trained musicians do not necessarily possess or learn. On the Danny Elfman group a well trained musician posted a piece of music he composed that sounded like a a well worn rip off of Dannys work. Creativity knows many means, and often it’s not what you learned, but how you utilize it to relate what your mind naturally conceives ( or unnaturally if that’s yr modus op). I wish this was a bit longer tho.

Mike E.

Chords help put together drums within a beat and create a vibe. They are the building blocks within a beat. I usually start my beats by making the melody first. I would tell my peers to probably start with melody first, then go to doing the drums to create a vibe first.

Chris H.

Hold up, let's take a close look at the effects chain Angel slathered on his chords.... Start with a synth lead with short attack and decay. Add some chorus. Add delay. Add a second chorus. Add a second delay. Then add reverb. Then add a sidechain compression emulation. I admit that I'm a newbie at mixing, but geez Louise, if all you want is presence above the rest of the mix why not just tack on a nice reverb and be done with it? I mean, how much CPU do you want to eat up? I'm beginning to get suspicious here.

Brandon T.

I like their creative processes. It's like synergy; one plus one being greater than two.

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