11 dope R&B chord progressions in MIDI, that you can download for free. They sound like this. Here's some tutorials on how to play them.

* MIDI only - the sounds in this demo are not included. The sounds featured are from 40's Very Own Keys.

Summer Walker – Girls Need Love Chord Progression

I had “Girls Need Love” on repeat all day, every-day when it dropped back in 2018. It’s such a dope track, from its beat to its lyrics, vocal arrangement and of course its chords.

This track does something you don’t hear very often these days in R&B. It has three distinct chord progressions, one for each section – verse, pre-chorus and chorus, well what I’m calling the chorus. It has a pretty unique arrangement, and the song is only 2 minutes long!

But this keeps the track interesting. It’s always developing and progressing.

In this video, we look at the third section, in what I’m rightly or wrongly calling the chorus.

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Teyana Taylor – 3 Way Chord Progression

In this tutorial, we look at an R&B chord progression from Teyana Taylor’s – 3 Way ft. Ty Dolla $ign.

Its use of cluster chords gives it so much flavour. We talk more on that in the video. This track is in Eb minor, and its chord progression goes as follows: i – VII – VI/V – iv7 – IV/V – V.

If you listen to the track you’ll hear how the chords slightly change throughout. This keeps the track interesting as it’s not just this constant loop and adds to the emotion of the track.

It sounds like the keyboardist, who I think was probably Rodney Jerkins (Dark Child), played through the whole track. This gives plenty opportunity for natural variation. This is one of the benefits of actually learning how to play, or calling in a musician.

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H.E.R. Inspired R&B Chord Progression

In this tutorial, we look at a “H.E.R.” inspired R&B chord progression I cooked up.

This chord progression features some of my favourite types of chords; the minor 9 in root position, the dominant 7 flat 9 and the dominant 9 sus4. If you take nothing else from this lesson, here’s three chords to add to your arsenal.

Here are the chord diagrams for the 9 chords featured in this tutorial. The last three chords are bonus chords. I’ve simply added a single note in each case to create a “phatter” warmer tone. As I mentioned in the tutorial, “phatter” is not always better, there’s a time and a place.

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Kiana Ledé – Show Love Chord Progression

Like Summer Walker’s “Girls Need Love”, Kiana Ledé’s “Show love” was another song I had on heavy rotation in 2018. It was a good year for R&B.

This particular track sounds like it’s based around a sample that’s had its tempo and subsequently, its pitch altered. The main sound with our chords sounds warped, and slightly out of key. However, this adds character to the track. An easy way to achieve this without sampling is with a plugin like the RC-20 Retro Color by XLN Audio. I use it on a number of my tracks and maybe it’s what the producer(s) used too.

Despite this however, we’re still able to quite clearly decipher the chords. And in contrast to a number of the progressions we’ve looked at, this one is pretty simple.

It’s based around two chords in the verse, the 6 and the 4. This cycles several times and then ends with a beautiful 4, 3, 2 chord progression as shown in the video.

The inversions used makes this run particularly impactful, as in the left hand we’re moving down the keyboard and in our right our chords are moving upwards.

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Destiny’s Child – Say My Name Chord Progression

Voicing refers to how you group, distribute or space the notes within a chord. Like there are many ways to skin a cat, there are many ways to voice a chord. The way you “voice” a chord can often be specific to the genre. To help create the genre’s “sound” or aesthetic.

In this video, we’ll look at how you can voice 7th chords (and what they are) in a way to produce the rich and warm R&B sound. We use the chord progression from Destiny’s Child’s “Say My Name”. One of my favourite R&B chord progressions and a great example.

The original track uses a guitar playing broken chords. However, the chords present here represent the harmonic values. Or more so how I’ve interpreted them.

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Black Street – Don’t Leave Me Chord Progression

R&B stands for rhythm and blues. And although heartbreak and strife are universal; (we’ve all been there), along with Country music, R&B has the monopoly. It’s in the name, for goodness sake!

But it’s not just the lyrics that tell the story and make us feel a certain way; sadness can also manifest through music. And chords play a vital role in this.

In this video, I break down the chord progression used in Black Street’s “Don’t Leave Me.” Paying extra attention to the suspended chords and how they can help us convey a sad emotion.

This chord progression is a popular one using the cycle of fourths for the most part. Many songs use the cycle of fourths. But what sets it apart is the chord voicings we use and the suspended chords into a 251 chord progression at the end. Just beautiful. Someone get me a tissue.

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Classic Neo-Soul Chord Progressions

9th chords, sweet, sweet 9th chords – when voiced correctly, they instantly give you that beautiful Neo-Soul vibe. And with Neo-Soul being a cousin of R&B, these chords can easily work in both genres.

One of the chord progressions in this video is taken straight from an rnb joint in fact!

In this tutorial, I’ll show you three classic Neo-Soul chord progressions built around 9th chords. They’re so simple, but sound so good.

Destiny’s Child - Girl

This chord progression is an excellent example of both major and minor 9th chords. As mentioned in the video, this chord progression somewhat breaks the rules; on its second passthrough finishing on a minor 9 chord. This chord is out of key, but it works and is what makes the song unique.

John Legend – Ordinary People

This chord progression shows us how much we can do with just three chords. It’s also proof that major doesn’t always mean happy. This chord progression is quite emotional and pensive if you ask me.

Jill Scott – Gettin’ In The Way

A neo-soul classic giving us nothing but major 9 chords.

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