Music, 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.

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Topics include: Making a Beat: Starting With a Chord Progression


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...

About the Instructor

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.

Featured Masterclass Instructor


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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