How to Make Arpeggios - Turn Chord Progressions into Melodies

In this Hack Music Theory lesson, you’ll learn how to break up your simple chord progressions and turn ‘em into stunning melodies. But first... Tea!

Hello, we are Kate Harmony & Ray Harmony (AKA Revolution Harmony), and welcome to the Hack Music Theory show, where you are empowered with notation-free theory for making great music in DAWs.

When you break up a chord and play it one note at a time (instead of all the notes together), you turn harmony into melody. This magic trick is known as an arpeggio, which is just a fancy way of saying “broken chord”. And, when you play a chord one note at a time, you also end up with a far more interesting rhythm. It’s a win-win! Now I know what you’re thinking: If arpeggios are that amazing, then why aren’t all chord progressions played one note at a time? What’s the catch? Well, the melodic nature of arpeggios can easily interfere with (and even take attention away from) your lead melody, so they often work best under simple lead melodies, or in a section where there is no lead melody.

1:29 - HACK 1 - Notes Likes Bricks
2:45 - HACK 2 - Stairway to Boredom

Most arpeggios you hear these days, walk unimaginatively up or down the notes of the chord. But a chord is not a staircase that needs to be ascended or descended! Yeah you can start in the middle of the chord, then go up, and then come down. You can do anything! So, every time you turn a block chord into an arpeggio, challenge yourself to come up with an imaginative order for the notes, and only use the ascending or descending options if it’s really what your song wants from that chord at that moment.

The example in this video is the verse section from of our upcoming single “Down with the Drama”, which features the amazing Sarah Serene on vocals. If you missed any of our previous videos on this song, check out our YouTube playlist.

If you want a more in-depth lesson on writing chord progressions and arpeggios and all that good stuff, we suggest our video 5 Hacks for Better Chord Progressions.

Lastly, do you struggle to finish your music? If you do, then check out our online apprenticeship course, where you’ll learn how to effortlessly write new sections for existing sections, how to transition between them, and most importantly, how to finish your songs! For more info, just head on over to our Apprenticeship Course. Alright, enjoy the video/podcast.

Kate & Ray Harmony (AKA Revolution Harmony)
Music Teachers & Producers in Vancouver BC, Canada

1: Read our free book (below) & watch our YouTube videos
2: Read our "Part 1" book & "Songwriting & Producing" PDF
3: Learn how to become a song-whisperer, and effortlessly finish music!

Hack Music Theory is the pioneering notation-free method for making great music. Taught by award-winning music lecturer Ray Harmony, and his protégé (and wife) Kate Harmony, from their studio in Vancouver BC, Canada. Ray is the author of critically-acclaimed book series "Hack Music Theory", and has made music with Serj Tankian (System of a Down), Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine), Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree), Ihsahn (Emperor), Kool Keith (Ultramagnetic MCs), Madchild (Swollen Members), and many more. Kate has the highest grade distinction in Popular Music Theory from the London College of Music, and is the only person on the planet who's been trained by Ray to teach his Hack Music Theory method! While these Hack Music Theory YouTube lessons teach music theory for producers and DAW users, they are designed to accommodate all music makers (songwriters, guitarists, etc.) and all genres, from Electronic Music to R&B, Pop to Hip-Hop, Reggae to Rock, EDM/Dance to Metal (and yes, we djefinitely Djent!).