Hip Hop Chord Progressions: A Quick & Simple Formula For Making Beats

When I first started making beats, I honestly thought it would be as easy as playing some random melodies with different instruments and layering drums on top of it. Ha! As it turns out, I couldn't have been any more wrong.

First of all, I had absolutely no idea how to compose melodies so I didn't really know what I was doing behind the keys. No matter how great my programs were, everything just sounded like a 2-year old toddler just discovered a keyboard for the first time.

And even if I did somehow manage to make a decent melody, that's all I'd have — I would have no idea what else I can add to make the beat sound more complete.

While some producers have all sorts of melodies in their heads and are gifted enough to instinctively know which keys to press, unfortunately I'm not that talented. I have a pretty decent ear for what sounds good and what doesn't, but when I started out the only thing I could do was mash a bunch of random notes and hope for the best.

That all changed once I started studying music theory.

Music theory gave me a bit of an “advantage” in the sense that I now had a set of rules to guide my music compositions with. Once I understood the concepts of what makes music actually sound good, making beats suddenly became a whole lot easier. It is exactly because of this reason why I highly encourage aspiring producers to learn music theory — or at least the basics of it.

What Are Chord Progressions, And Why Do They Matter?

For those who are unaware, part of what you learn in music theory are chord progressions. Chords are three or more notes that sound harmonically good when played together, and progressions simply mean the movement between different chords.

If you're reading this, then you probably have an idea what chords are and are simply looking to learn how to use chord progressions when making a hip hop beat.

Why are chord progressions so important? Because every song has a chord progression to serve as the “backbone” for your songs. Every melody within the song will fit on top of it. So if you want to add more layers to your beat but don't know how, your chord progression should give you a guide. You can use it to either help you compose additional melodies to make the beat more complete, or even use it to compose the main melody that drives your beat.

In this article, I'm going to show you a simple formula to create a chord progression in any scale you want, and provide you with an example of how to use that to make a hip-hop beat.

Keep in mind that this isn't the only way to compose beats — it's just one way to do it, and even I don't compose this way 100{206c1b12f9fb10c564014517a442150f86534154877a5459064c1087562b6d43} of the time. But it's a good tool to have in your arsenal, which is why I decided to write this article.

So let's get started!

Every Beat Starts With The Scale

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