How to Write a Dreamy Chord Progression • Music Theory from Four Tet "Loved"


How to Write a Dreamy
Chord Progression



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includes MIDI + WAV file examples




New single “Loved” by British producer Four Tet (Kieran Hebden) is a dreamy soundscape that floats your thoughts away on its neuro-massaging vibrations!


If you listen to it with your eyes closed, you can easily imagine sitting by a window on a rainy morning, sipping your tea and day-dreaming as you stare out into quantum clouds of possibility. Even the pitter-patter accent of his hi-hat rhythm mirrors the sound of rain drops on the roof.


The outro (from 2:43) further lowers the energy, deepening the introspection. There’s a sprinkling of arpeggios (i.e. chords played one note at a time) throughout the song, but in the outro he uses them exclusively. That’s only one of the many elements that make this section sooooo soothing. Right, inspired by the “Loved” outro, here’s our 6-step method for writing dreamy chords. But first… Tea!



Step 1. Arpeggio


Set your tempo to 82 BPM and your time signature to 4|4. Then, create an eight-bar section with a 1/16 note grid. Next, load up a gentle keyboard sound like a Rhodes organ, or something similar. You can find the perfect sound afterwards.


One of the most interesting elements of this section is that Four Tet wrote it in the major scale. Nowadays, the major scale is hugely unpopular, which is a shame and a loss. You’ll only really hear this scale in children’s music or Christmas songs. But, it’s the most consonant scale, which means the harmonies it creates are the most peaceful for us. In these dissonant times, we believe there needs to be far more music written in major keys to help people let go of their daily stress and anxiety.


To be fair, there’s a valid reason why most producers don’t use the major scale: all that consonance makes it predictable! Therefore, music written in a major key is at a high risk of being boring. That’s no problem for Four Tet, though, as he has some great hacks up his sleeve to avoid this problem.


Right, so Four Tet uses G major for this section. We chose C major, as it’s simply all the white notes from C to C, but you can use whatever major scale you like.


C major scale:

















He starts this outro section by playing the root chord (Cmaj in our example), and the first hack he uses to create a dreamy vibe is to play the chord as an arpeggio. Also, he plays the root note in two octaves: C (1) → G (5) → C (8, i.e. the root an octave higher than 1). Technically this is a harmony (or interval) and not a chord, as it only contains 1 and 5 (it’s missing 3), but he does play 3 in the melody above.


FYI: If you wanna play this on the keyboard instead of drawing in the MIDI, you’ll play the arpeggio in your left hand, and the melody above in your right hand.


While the technique of playing a left-hand 1→5→8 arpeggio is nothing new (it was common in Mozart’s day), the way Four Tet weaves in his melody is original. He doesn’t just add a melody over the top, like most producers would do, he tricks the listener into hearing his melody as part of the arpeggio. Well, at first…


But then it sounds like his melody begins to break away from the arpeggio. We then hear it as a separate layer. And then it seems to join the arpeggio again?! This uncertainty as to whether it’s a separate melody or part of the arpeggios is one of the brilliant hacks Four Tet uses to create his dream-like atmosphere. It gives us that feeling of waking up from a dream and thinking: Did that really happen?


So, start by drawing in a 1→5→8 arpeggio from your root (C in our example). Let your arpeggio sound for half the bar, then copy and paste it into the second half.




1→5→8 Arpeggio

screenshot is zoomed in to the first two beats





1→5→8 Arpeggio copied and pasted (highlighted)

screenshot is zoomed out to the full eight-bar loop




Step 2. Repeat


Here’s a question for you: Have you ever had that dream where you’re running but you’re going nowhere?! Well, that’s the next hack Four Tet uses to create a dream-like quality to his chords. For the rest of the tutorial, please buy the PDF. Supporting our work helps us to keep teaching. Thank you :)




Download PDF Tutorial 





Lastly, are you new to music theory? Or are you experienced, but you want a refresher? Then download our FREE BOOK (link opens in new tab). It only takes 30 minutes to read, then you’ll have a solid theory foundation that you can instantly apply to your songwriting and producing. Enjoy!





Ray Harmony
Multi award-winning college lecturer