[NEW] 13 ESSENTIAL Chord Progressions from Game Music | video game music common keys – Cazzette

video game music common keys: Is it the article you’re in search of?

If you’re feeling such as you write the identical boring, dry, predictable progressions each time you sit down to put in writing music, I’m gonna aid you get out of that rut.

Let’s discover 13 of probably the most fascinating, sensible, and (generally) downright spicy chord progressions from video game soundtracks. I invite you to steal these and use them to boost your personal compositions or productions.

If you need to hear these progressions in motion, watch the video right here:

Progression 1: ii – V – I

The first development is without doubt one of the most common in the entire of Western concord, particularly jazz concord. It’s throughout video game music, and also you’ll hear it a number of instances all through this listing. 

We see it within the Portal End Credits theme, Still Alive (composed by Jonathan Coulton).

I stayed up all night time in faculty and beat this game in a single sitting on the unique Orange Box and it was in all probability probably the most memorable gaming second for me. 

Imagine experiencing a game like Portal after which listening to this track on the finish whereas the credit rolled. I sat there with the controller in my hand, jaw on the ground, and simply listened. 

The ii – V – I development is absolutely the swiss military knife of chord progressions. It will help you modulate to totally different keys, it hits each pitch in a given scale so it’s actually good at establishing a tonal middle, and it could take a extremely vanilla chord development and make it fascinating.

I’ve a free lesson in my course on the basics of game composition all in regards to the ii – V – I. If you need to dive deeper, click on right here.

Progression 2: IVmaj7, iii7, ii7, Imaj7

Now perhaps you need to get again to the I chord, however you don’t need to do it so strongly as within the case of the ii – V – I. This subsequent development will definitely do the trick. It’s featured prominently within the very first video game I ever performed as a child.

The addition of the seventh chord levels provides a jazzy taste and makes it a extremely enjoyable development to play and write over.

It’s used a minimum of two different instances within the Sonic the Hedgehog soundtrack. Listen for it within the Special Stage music in addition to the B part of Spring Yard Zone. 

Progression 3: Victory Theme

Our subsequent chord development is commonly known as the “victory” development due to its use in probably the most iconic game of all time, in addition to many different video games after that.

If you’re trying to evoke an emotion of triumph or victory or success, look no additional.

The actual MVPs of this development are the ♭VI and ♭VII chords, that are borrowed chords from the parallel minor key. Meaning, for those who’re enjoying in C main, you’d borrow these chords from C minor.

That IV – V – ♭VI – ♭VII in all main chords actually dials up the “triumph” feeling to 11.

Progression 4: Tritone Substitution

If you need to be like me and pretend your method into some jazz music, there’s no higher method to try this than by a tritone substitution. It’s an effective way to resolve again to the I chord, as you possibly can hear on this underrated little monitor from Super Mario World.

A tritone substitution is so named as a result of it’s substituting the V chord, which might usually come earlier than the I chord in an ordinary dominant to tonic decision. Instead of enjoying the V chord, you play a chord one tritone away from the V chord.

This simply occurs to be the ♭II7 chord. This permits the bass to maneuver chromatically down from the II to the ♭II7 to the I.

Voila! Instant jazz.

13 Essential Chord Progressions Source Files

Need some inspiration? Stuck in a writers’ block? Download these chord progressions and beginning writing your personal contrafacts at the moment. You can open them in MuseScore or just examine the PDFs and nick the harmonies in your personal compositions.

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    Progression 5: Aquatic Extensions

    Speaking of jazz, this subsequent development consists by the primary man to place Neo-Soul chords right into a video game and make a water degree midway bearable. 

    My greatest takeaway from this development is the ability of fascinating extensions to create environment. I imply, it’s within the identify: Aquatic Ambiance. There’s an enormous distinction between a vanilla Cm to Ab, and a Cm9 and Abmaj7#11. 

    Progression 6: Spiral Mountain

    Our subsequent development comes from an iconic ‘90s basic. As a toddler, I entered a contest on Cartoon Network to win this game and an N64. For some cause, I used to be terrified they might reject my entry due to my horrible handwriting.

    20 years later I interviewed the composer of this game (Grant Kirkhope) on my podcast.

    This development is simply chock filled with superior little strikes. First off, we have now the I to main III to minor vi. The III in the important thing of C is definitely purported to be iii (E minor), however Grant performs an E main to arrange that good sturdy decision to the Am. 

    Then, he goes to the foremost II7 – V7 – I. Now for those who’re a fan of folks music chances are you’ll bear in mind this from the Bright Eyes track This is the First Day of my Life. It’s the identical development!

    It doesn’t finish there! We go I – I+ – IV – iv. That’s type of a play on the standard Plagal Cadence, and I’m obsessive about it.

    Then he tops it off with this actually enjoyable little I – V – ♭VI – V – I.

    So there you go! Three new progressions to attempt for the value of 1.

    Progression 7: Dorian World

    The subsequent monitor is a grasp class in writing fantasy medieval or simply RPG music basically.

    An enormous a part of that sound is within the Dorian mode. I like to consider the Dorian mode as a minor scale with a pure sixth versus the standard flattened sixth.

    It nonetheless retains the minor tonality nevertheless it’s quite a bit much less melancholic and dramatic. That pure sixth (particularly when performed in chords) offers it that glimmer of hope.

    Progression 8: Milk Bar

    This development is chipper and enjoyable – a direct distinction to the game through which it’s featured, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. It’s ok to be a mainstream nation track.

    I speak about this in additional element in my video breakdown, however a “hack” to creating nation vibes is to take all of your minor chords and make them main/dominant chords. Try it out!

    Progression 9: Astral Observatory

    Hey, I can’t assist it that Zelda video games (particularly the N64 Zeldas) have a number of the finest music of all time. This tune appears to take inspiration from Bach and options a number of actually fascinating harmonic films.

    As you possibly can see from the sheet music, the Em7b5 is definitely establishing a minor ii – V – I development focusing on the D minor chord. From there, we stroll the bass down and hit that highly effective G/B chord (that is the one straight from Bach).

    That’s a II/♭V chord, which doesn’t seem to be it could sound excellent. But it sounds unbelievable, particularly when the bass movement is supporting it.

    Progression 10: Chromatic Ranch

    The Lon Lon Ranch theme is without doubt one of the most pastoral, candy tracks in all of VGM. However, it’s chock-filled with deceptively spicy chords.

    Everything on this development revolves round that chromatically descending bassline. I don’t suppose Koji Kondo got down to write jazzy chords. I feel he in all probability began together with his bassline, after which requested himself, “now how do I create a harmony that supports this?”

    Next time you’re in a rut, attempt beginning your composition by writing your bassline. It’s labored for me!

    Progression 11: Gerudo Valley and the Harmonic Minor Scale

    If the Dorian mode is the important thing to writing fantasy or medieval music, the harmonic minor scale is the important thing to writing western or Latin music. The harmonic minor scale takes the standard flattened seventh and raises it again as much as a pure seventh. This offers composers that sturdy main tone again into the tonic.

    We hear the harmonic scale most prominently on this piece when it hits that C# main chord (versus the standard C#m which is current in regular minor keys).

    Progression 12: Brinstar’s Chromatic Mediant

    The subsequent development is from certainly one of Nintendo’s darkest first-occasion sequence. It manages to be brooding, and darkish, and multi-layered with out utilizing a single minor chord.

    This piece makes use of a transfer that’s extremely popular in movie scores – the chromatic mediant (♭III) chord. Because you’re departing from the standard main scale, it feels jarring with out feeling melodramatic.

    If you need your piece to sound darker with out sounding sadder, attempt utilizing main chords (just like the chromatic mediant) borrowed from different keys.

    Progression 13: To the Moon!

    This tune form of got here out of nowhere however has since turn into some of the beloved basic video game tunes of all time.

    I might write a dissertation on all of the unbelievable issues occurring on this piece. I’ll attempt to preserve issues temporary.

    I really like this tune’s considered use of slash chords. Slash chords, or inversions, are simply regular chords however with an added instruction for what the bass ought to be doing. 

    They’re particularly helpful for facilitating fascinating bass movement (like we noticed in Lon Lon Ranch).

    Another factor I really like about this piece is the passing diminished chord (C°) that bridges the game between the B and C#sus4 chords. This doesn’t even think about the unbelievable modulation within the B part (I’ll have to save lots of that for an additional time). 🙂

    Putting these development to work!

    If you’re able to take the subsequent step and use these progressions in your personal tunes, try these sources:

    [Update] Composing Music For Video Games – Key & Tempo | video game music common keys – Cazzette


    When composing music for visible media, particularly movies, TV exhibits, adverts and video video games, it’s key to have the ability to reinforce musically what is occurring on the display screen. Two areas that set up the temper of a composition is that of the important thing and the tempo. Further to the video tutorial that covers these areas briefly, this text was produce to delve right into a bit extra in depth in regards to the selection of key and really feel of the tempo.

    Know Thy Character & Environment

    When contemplating what to compose you will need to grasp the character’s persona, morals and angle within the visible, in addition to the atmosphere they’re in. We must study and get to know the individual the actor is portraying. When it involves placing music to the visible, it must swimsuit each facet of the scene all the way down to the final element like “What is the weather like?” or “What season does the scene look like its been shot in? Does it have an essence of summer about it or does it look cold like winter? ”We can then take these particulars and improve the feelings that have to be accented.

    We’re large Star Wars followers and love the work of John Williams. The music he composed enhances the scenes. Think of the‘Imperial March’ when Darth Vader walks in. It would not have labored so nicely if he would have marched in to the sound of ‘Waterloo’ by Abba!

    So how is that this buying the precise tone and concepts for a scene achieved?

    One of the strategies we use is to search out key phrases that affiliate with the characters and the atmosphere within the visuals. Here are a number of the examples we got here up with when watching the Grazia Fetish advert:

    Environment: Shady, Noir, Erotic, Gloomy, Street lit

    Character: Devious, Flirtatious, Enticing, Seductive, Silky (fashions actions)

    Starting with the atmosphere, we will set up instantly that it’s totally darkish, subtly lit with hints of purple, purple and blue. This makes the scene really feel like it’s set exterior at night time time and the one mild obtainable is from neon store lights and avenue lights. The parts of shade and rain painting a ‘darkish’ really feel, there’s nothing actually joyful and joyous in regards to the atmosphere.

    Looking on the fashions persona within the scene, she offers off this mysterious, flirtatious persona. The method through which she speaks along with her physique language, the best way she opens her eyes slowly, the best way she turns to take a look at the digital camera, the best way through which see runs her hand up and down her leg, they’re all very silky easy actions.

    What is she attempting to say with all these appears to be like and actions?

    Every smile she offers off has a touch of seductiveness and ‘as much as no good’ intent about them. The look in her eyes offers off a mischievous and luring impression. We could even go so far as to say she has the“Hey, big boy”look! As the scene unfolds the“Erotic”meter will get turned up the extra it goes on. That straight, critical face that we see at the beginning turns into a raunchy, playful smile.

    So how can this translate musically? Through the selection of key, utilising a minor one for instance to place emphasis on the ‘darkish’ really feel, and in addition by tempo. Let’s focus on key first.

    Major Or Minor?

    The cause why we attempt to decide main and minor keys for compositions is for the emotional really feel. Essentially the concord of the chords and the alternatives of notes within the melody portrays the texture and emotion of the piece. We affiliate ‘main’ as a cheerful really feel and ‘minor’ as a tragic vibe. Before we go any additional into this, we have to bear in mind for each main key, there’s a relative minor and vice versa. The relative minor is discovered 3 semi-tones under the route be aware of the foremost scale.

    I’ve chosen C main for this instance as a result of there are not any sharps or flats, I’ve additionally added the names for every chord to indicate how the harmonies are the identical.

    C Major Scale: C, Dm, Em, F, G, Am, Bdim, C.                       

    A Minor Scale: Am, Bdim, C, Dm, Em, F, G, Am.

    As you possibly can see, each scales share the identical notes and chords. The solely distinction you possibly can see from this instance is that one scale begins on a special be aware to the opposite.

    So what is the distinction if they’re each the identical?

    The distinction is within the third and sixth notes of the dimensions. For instance, within the main scale, the hole between notes 2 and three (D & E) are a tone aside. Whereas it’s only a semi-tone aside within the minor scale (B & C). This distinction within the scales are what make the foremost and the minor scale sound the best way they do.

    So to conclude, for us to attain the temper we needed to provide within the clip, it was about selecting a minor key and minor chords that set a strong basis to construct a melody on. One that can improve the visuals.


    This explicit composition is ready to 91 BPM. This tempo works so nicely with the visible not simply due to the way it hyperlinks with the cuts of the pictures, but additionally due to how the groove falls into place. If you watch the complete advert as an example there’s two factors (00:46 & 01:18) which the tempo of the monitor performs a key position in emphasising what occurs visually. Let’s focus on certainly one of these factors, at 00:46, when the snare hits on the beat as she lifts her head. The drop of the music earlier than the snare hitting provides to the rise within the composition that follows by permitting it to breath. If you have a look at her face, she appears to be like as if she is about to beat a scenario and has a sure ‘pushed’ look. It was this level that was key to stress and the tempo allowed for this to occur completely. If the monitor was sooner it could lose the groove and really feel rushed, if it was slower it could lose the heartbeat and lack the sting it has.

    There are some things that I need to point out that make up the composition that the tempo immediately corresponds to. Let’s begin with the rhythm part, the inspiration and groove of the piece. The drums are very straight which permits the bass to fit properly into place with that ‘pulsing’ really feel. To add further angle and rawness to that pulsing bass line is 2 distorted guitar elements, the primary one being a palm muted eighth be aware rhythm to bolster that rhythm part and the opposite was a“this one goes up to 11!”guitar tone that rings the chord out on every chord change. All this offers that uncooked edge to the composition that it wants. Lastly, discover how easy the rhythm part is. Its major goal is to create that pulsing rhythm that many would contemplate“the groove” permitting area for the lead half to shine on high of it.

    Another factor on this composition to briefly have a look at is the string half and the tip part with the guitar solo. These add depth into the emotion of the track. A great place to begin with when writing a lead half is to stress on chord tones, discover once more how easy the string elements are, highlighting sure notes of the chord that add flavour and draw consideration to a specific factor of the chord. Very easy, however efficient. Lastly, credit score to an ideal guitarist, Ben Monaghan, for the guitar solo on the finish. Personally, I’ve performed with many guitarists who choose a superb solo with how a lot smoke they will create from the fretboard. Ben got here up with intelligent little phrases sitting barely behind the combo interweaved with a synth line bringing a bit of further to the ultimate development of the track.

    These are simply a number of the issues that went into setting up the composition for this advert. I hope this text has impressed you and given you recent concepts to check out in your personal work.

    Dan Harris & Joe Gilliver

    Ocular Audio

    Contact – [email protected]

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