Behind The Music: Deep House Chord Progressions

deep house chord progressions

One of the key characteristics of deep house is the use of jazzy and soulful minor chord progressions. They anchor the track and quickly set the mood: comfortable, hypnotic and uplifting. 

In this tutorial, we'll break down these chords and show you how to use them in your own productions. 

We'll be using minor 9th chords in the key of D#minor at 125 BPM. 9th chords consists of five notes— the root, 3rd, 5th and 7th note of the scale, plus the 2nd note of the scale one octave higher. 
 

Step 1: Root Notes

We'll start off with the root note for each chord. Create a clip that's four bars long and draw or play the following notes: D#, A# and C#, which will held for two bars.

We used a Massive preset for the synth, but this sound can be achieved with nearly any string or pad preset and a bit of tweaking. 

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Step 2: Triads

Triads are three note chords. Build on the first step by adding two notes to complete the minor triad. You should start to hear the beginnings of a smooth deep house progression. 

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Step Three: 7th Chords

Extend the chord by adding another note two semitones above the basic triads. A semitone is the distance from one key to another. You should now have a full-sounding chord sound with considerably more depth than the triad. 

Step Four: Completing the 9th 

Let's create our 9th chord by adding a fifth note to the chord. It's the second note of the scale (F, C and D#, respectively) just one octave higher. 

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Alternatively, here are the 9th chords as if they were played on a MIDI keyboard or synth. Click for the next chord: 

Step Five: Experiment With Rhythm

If you want to create some variation in your track, re-arrange the sustained pads into bouncy chord stabs for a bit of extra energy. It's a familiar trick you've heard many times before, and with good reason, it works! 

Step Six: Layering

Layer the synth with some other sounds. It will fill up your track and provide some nice variation for an intro or breakdown. In this example, I've copied the same 9th chord midi clip over to a piano track. Listen to the results below: 


With a strong chord progression base, you're well on your way to writing a blissed-out deep house track. If you're looking for shuffling drums and percussion, explore our tribal house sample pack. Download the midi files for this demo here

Want to learn another aspect of electronic music production? Leave a comment below! 

Daniel Dixon

Daniel is a music producer with a love for breakbeats and basslines. Content writer at Outro.
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