Beautiful chord loops and emotional piano loops

Chord loops are everywhere, especially guitar loops and piano loops are a general favourite. But what is the music theory behind them and what way can or should you process them from a music production perspective?

Piano loops are used in practically any modern style ranging from pop to ambient piano music. And from dance music to Lof-Fi.

Good chord loops can be really addictive to listen to and play. And I think it’s often underestimated how tricky it actually is to make one that stays interesting.Being present in practically any style of music, what makes a good chord loop? One that is interesting, original and recognizable, but also capable of staying in the background?

Let’s get creative 🙂

About the video

The example I used is an ambient piano loop that I have written. And the video is divided into two parts. A music theory section and a music production part.

Part One: Music theory (in 5 steps)Step 1: Finding the right chord progression.Make sure that you avoid very strong and dominant oriented chord progressions such as the 1-4-5. You don’t want your progression to be too goal oriented. You almost want your progression to float.

Step 2: The note spacing and register of your chords.Keep in mind that when your progression is in a lower register, that you probably want to open up the chord voicings. This creates clarity and enables stability. The lower the register, the muddier the sound will be.

Step 3: Writing a melodyIf your chord loop has no melody, then people will get bored rather quickly. Make sure that your melody has a sense of expansion, going up and down. Try to find something that circles around the important notes like the 3rd’s. But don’t get stuck on only two notes.Also what helps is to have the melody and the chord loop be of a different length.

Step 4: Adding rhythmWhat really creates a lot of interest, is to have a syncopation before some of your chords. This works especially well with your last chord before the loop starts over again. Especially in combination with a note that’s directly above or below one of the notes that’s in your next chord.

The second part of the video focusses on how to enhance the Piano loop with parallel processing of reverb, overdrive and pitch shifting.

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0:00 – An ambient Piano Chord Loop & Introduction
1:13 – Step 1: Finding the right chord progression
2:53 – Step 2: The note spacing of each chord
3:52 – Step 3: How to write a melody for a chord loop
4:48 – Step 4: Adding extra rhythm
5:39 – Extra tip: Using the right register
6:07 – Part 2: Producing the piano loop
6:34 – Step 1: The piano, EQ and side chain explained
7:27 – Step 2: Adding reverb on an Aux track
8:34 – Step 3: Adding a pitch shifter on an Aux track
10:17 – The final results
10:46  – A question for you & after thoughts

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