How to get deeper sounding chords

You may often think that your chord progressions don’t sound full enough for your track, especially with R&B music. Many people will tell you to simply extend the chords. For example instead of C Maj, Play C Major 7th or 9th. This will indeed expand the sound, however it still may not give you the depth that you are looking for. A lot of gospel or “Phat” chord may seem deep, however over expanding chords into the 11th and 13th etc. can result in “note clashing”. It may not be clear for the listener or singer as to which key to focus on.

A number of tips to get a fuller sounding chord progressions are below.

Inversions

If you are a not familiar, inversion are simply playing the same chord in a different key order. The resulting chord is technical the same however inversion tend have a different feeling or mood. A lot of it has to do with physics and sound frequencies. A standard chord has all the keys spaced out evenly.  Inverting often results in keys next to other with similar wavelength of sound overlapping. This creates quite a different resulting sound and common in the Neo Soul genre.

e.g.  Have a look at the below diagram. This is a Cmajor 7th, however the B has been shifted from the right side all the way to the left of C. This is the same chord but it will sound different and deeper. You may need to let the bass play know if you are going to invert this way. B for the bass may sound better than the actual root which is C.

Moving the Bass Position

This can add immediate depth to the overall sound. Basically you would play a normal chord e.g. G minor 7th, the minor chords tend to sound better from this. Take the 5th note which would be D and use this for the bass.

So instead of playing G, Bb, D ,F

You would play D, G, Bb, D, F. Simply by adding one of the notes from the chord to the bass creates a whole different a deeper mood. Many Musiq Soulchild tracks tend to have a similar sound. Especially the track “143” which consists mainly of inversions and altered bass lies.

Playing Chords half a Step away

A small step can make a great difference in the sound. A good example is starting off in a minor key e.g. Gmin7th again. Shift down half a step to Gb and invert from minor to major so you have Gbmaj7th. Then again shift down half a step to F and invert back to minor.

So we get the following three chords:

Gmin7th, Gbmaj7th and Fmin7th

Very little movement but a big change in the overall sound. The Major to Minor inversion does not work through the whole octave but you should experiment with it.

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  1. Dannie October 11, 2017
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