6 Deep House Chord Progression Tips For Beginners

From our Deep House Series:

7 Deep House Bassline Patterns and Techniques
5 Simple Deep House Production Tips

 

Note before you read: This is a tutorial for beginners only.

Hello producers, how’s it going? Following our latest post: 7 Deep House Bassline Patters and Techniques, we’ve received a lot of requests to do a beginner’s guide to Deep House chords. As stated in the title, this post will try to present 6 basic chord progression tips to use in Deep House. So, if you’re a beginner in this genre and you struggle to come up with a chord progression, we hope this will be a useful read. Don’t worry about the terminology, we’ll explain everything. Just open your DAW, follow our steps and you’ll come up with something completely different!


Summary: 

 

1) Using Minor Chords with Oscillator Pitching

2) Using Minor 7th Chords

3) Using Minor 9th Chords

4) Using Minor and Major 9th Chords

5) Root Note Shifting

6) Using Sampled Chords

We’ll use Ableton Live 9 as our workstation, but you can follow this with any DAW. Most of the sounds are coming from Sylenth1 and from Ableton’s Instrument Rack default presets. Before we start, if you have any questions or suggestions just get in touch with us at hi@promusicproducers.com. Also, make sure to pay attention to the Ableton grid settings in the right corner of every image.


6 Deep House Chord Progression Tips


 

1) Using Minor Chords with Oscillator Pitching.

As in Episode 5 from our Deep House Pro Course:

The tempo is 123 BPM and the track is in the C minor scale. It has a simple progression of minor chords, but that “Deep-House vibe” comes from pitching one oscillator in Sylenth1. Let’s see how to do this.

 

STEP 1 – Create a new clip, 1 bar long and using the C note, draw this simple pattern:

11

It should sound like this:

 

STEP 2 – Now increase the length of the clip to 4 bars so we can insert the root notes of our progression. The 1st bar plays C. Then, we go down to A# in the 2nd bar but we come back to C in the 3rd bar. In the last bar, we go down again, but this time to G.

So we have the progression C – A# – C – G: 

12

It should sound like this:

 

STEP 3 – Now that we outlined the main progression, it is time to insert the minor chords. A minor triad consists of three notes: the root note, a note 3 semitones above the root note and finally, a note 7 semitones above the root note. Therefore, to play a C minor in the 1st and 3rd bar we need: C (the root note), D#(the note 3 semitones above C) and G(the note 7 semitones above C). Same applies to the 2nd and 4th bar which play A# minor and G minor:

13

It should sound like this:

 

STEP 4 – A simple trick is to add the root note one of each chord one octave lower:

14

It should sound like this:

 

STEP 5 – Let’s make this chord progression more interesting. For example, let’s move the last chord of every bar to a different minor chord, more precisely, to a minor chord with a higher root note. So, in the 1st and 3rd bar move the last C minor to D# minor. In the 2nd bar, move the last A# minor to B minor. And finally, in the 4th bar, move the last G minor chord to A# minor:

15

It should sound like this:

 

16

STEP 6 – To get that classic detuned Deep-House style sound, we’ll play with the PITCH settings on one of the oscillators in Sylenth1. In this track, we used +5 on the 2nd oscillator, but you can use +7:

Without oscillator pitching:

With +5 oscillator pitching:

With +7 oscillator pitching:

And will all elements:

 


 

2) Using Minor 7th Chords.

As in Episode 4 from our Deep House Pro Course:

The tempo is 124 BPM and the track is in the G minor scale. It plays a series of minor seventh chords in a descending sequence. Let’s jump into it!

 

STEP 1: Create a new clip, 2 bars long. Using the G note, draw this pattern of 5 notes per bar. Note that the 2nd bar plays the exact same pattern as in the previous track. In the 1st bar, we just moved some of these notes around:

21

It should sound like this:

 

STEP 2: Now let’s build a minor triad on these notes. Just like we did in the first track, to build a minor chord add a note 3 semitones above the root note (A#) and a note 7 semitones above the root note (D), or 0, 3, 7:

22

It should sound like this:

 

STEP 3: To get that Soulful-House vibe, we’ll expand these minor triads to minor seventh chords. A minor seventh chord is basically a minor triad but with an additional note, one that is 10 semitones above the root note. It follows this sequence: 0, 3, 7, 10. In our example, we already had the G minor chord: G, A#, D. To get a G minor 7, we just need to add F. The notation 7 comes from the fact that the last note from the chord is the 7th note from the scale:

23

It should sound like this:

 

STEP 4 – Now let’s create the progression. We’ll simply shift these minor 7 chords around in a descending sequence:

24

It should sound like this:

And will all elements:

 


 

 

3) Using Minor 9th Chords

As in Episode 3 from our House Elements Course:

The tempo is 124 BPM and the track is in the D# minor scale. It plays a simple progression of three minor 9th chords. Okay, let’s start.

 

STEP 1 – Create a new clip, 4 bars long. We start by inserting the root note of our chords, and thus, drawing the main progression. The 1st bar plays D#. The 2nd bar plays A#. The last two bars play C#:

31

It should sound like this:

 

STEP 2 – Create the basic structure of a minor triad, by adding these notes on top of the root note:

32

It should sound like this:

 

STEP 3 – Let’s extend these chords to minor 7th. On top of the basic triad, add these notes, 10 semitones above the root note:

33

It should sound like this:

 

STEP 4 – Finally, let’s create the minor 9th chord. A minor 9th chord contains the same notes as a minor 7th chord (0, 3, 7, 10), but with an additional note, 14 semitones above the root note. This note is basically the 2nd note of the scale, but one octave higher:

34

It should sound like this:

And with all elements:

 


 

 

4) Using Minor 9th and Major 9th Chords

As in Episode 11 from our House Elements Course:

The tempo is 124 BPM and the track is in the G# minor scale. As we covered so far minor triads, minor 7th and minor 9th chords, it is time to combine these with major chords.

 

STEP 1 – Create a new clip, two bars long. Draw this pattern using the progression G# – C# – D#:

41

It should sound like this:

 

STEP 2 – On top of the G#, create a minor 9th chord. Same goes for D#. In terms of C#, we’ll do something different. We’ll create a major 9th chord, by simply shifting the 2nd and 4th notes from the minor chord one semitone up. So, instead of 0, 3, 7, 10, 14 (minor) we’ll have 0, 4, 7, 11, 14 (major):

42

It should sound like this:

 

STEP 3 – Duplicate these 2 bars to extend our progression to 4 bars. In the last bar, move the D# minor 9 to F# minor 9:

43

It should sound like this:

 

STEP 4 – Finally, let’s get that Soulful-House vibe by playing with the length of these chords. Replace the 2x D# minor 9 chords with a long D# minor 9 chord, starting on the 3rd beat of the 2nd bar. Same applies for  the F# minor 9:

44

It should sound like this:

And with all elements:

 


 

 

5) Root Note Shifting

As in Episode 08 from our Deep House Pro Course:

The tempo is 123 BPM and the track is in the C minor scale. It plays a series of three minor 7th chords, with the last chord shifting its root note halfway through the bar. This is a very subtle example, but pay attention to the last bar of this progression.

 

STEP 1 – Create a new clip, 4 bars long. Insert the root note of each chord in every bar. In this case, the progression is C – G – F (descending):

51

It should sound like this:

 

STEP 2 – Now create the minor 7th chords with these notes:

52

It should sound like this:

 

STEP 3 – Duplicate the root note of each chord 1 octave lower:

53

It should sound like this:

 

STEP 4 – Now it’s time to create something interesting in the last bar, where we have the F minor 7th chord. Instead of playing just the root note (F) for the whole bar, we’ll break it in two. The 2nd half of the bar will play A#, creating a very subtle tension just before the end of the progression:

54

It should sound like this:

And with the bassline:

 


 

6) Using Sampled Chords

As in Construction Kit 9 from our Deep House Maniac Pack:

The tempo is 124 BPM and the track is in the C minor scale. Here we sampled the original chord, loaded it into Simpler and played each chord with one note. This is an easy way for beginners to come up with a good chord progression. Let’s see how to do this.

 

STEP 1 – Insert a new MIDI Track with an Instrument loaded with your chord preset. Create a new clip and insert a minor 7th/ minor 9th/ major 7th/ major 9th or any chord…

What we’ll do is to sample this chord into an audio file that we can insert into Ableton’s Simpler Instrument and thus, we can trigger the entire chord with just one note. So, to sample this chord, insert a new Audio Track, and from the “Audio From” option, select “Resampling“. Arm this Audio Track for Recording, click play on your MIDI clip and click record on the Audio Track. The chord will be recorded into an audio file:

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STEP 2 – Insert a Simpler (or any sampler instrument) on a new MIDI Track and drag the recorded audio file into the Simpler. Now you can play the entire chord with just one note. In this example, we played these notes:

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It sounds like this:

 

STEP 3 – Ableton’s Simpler provides some powerful sample editing features and you can get some really interesting sounds. For example, put a Low-pass filter with the LFO set to maximum at 1/8:

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How it sounds now:

And with all elements:

 


 

That’s it!

 

We hope you enjoyed this post and if you found it useful, don’t forget to share it!

If you have any questions or suggestions get in touch with us at hi@promusicproducers.com.

 

Learn how to produce 93 House Tracks.

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