How to Write an Arpeggio Chord Progression like David Guetta "Don't Leave Me Alone" 

Happy New Music Friday! David Guetta’s new single “Don’t Leave Me Alone” (feat. Anne-Marie) dropped today, so in this music theory lesson, you'll learn how to write arpeggios like David Guetta. But first… Tea!

Hello! I’m Kate Harmony, this is Ray Harmony, and welcome to the new Hack Music Theory show (yeah it’s like Hack Music Theory v2.0). Every Friday, we’ll hack the theory of a big new release, and you’ll learn how to use that theory creatively in your own music. You can think of it as hot-off-the-press” music theory news, you can actually use!

And if you’re new to our channel, just a heads up, we cover all genres here, from Hip-Hop to EDM to Metal, and everything in between. But please note, this is a strictly classical and jazz free zone! Also, the hack that you’re about to witness is at an intermediate level, so this video will make more sense if you’ve got a solid theory foundation, which you can get in a mere 30 minutes, if you read our free book “12 Music Theory Hacks to Learn Scales & Chords” (free download below). Alright, it’s time to open your DAW to hack music theory.

THE THEORY

An arpeggio is created by simply playing a chord, one note at a time. This technique contrasts the usual "block chords" we hear in most songs, where the notes of each chord are played simultaneously. While block chords work great in some sections, their thick texture can be too much for other sections. “Don’t Leave Me Alone” is the perfect example of this, as David Guetta uses arpeggios for the verses, but block chords for the rest of the song. This contrast makes the verses sound super chill, and the drop sound super massive!

THE HACK

Right, to make arpeggios, you need chords first, so start by choosing a key and writing a chord progression. David chose a minor key for his chord progression, but then he starts the progression on the relative major key’s root chord. This creates an uplifting beginning to the chord progression, as it sounds like it’s in a major key, but then things start getting sad when we reach the real key’s root chord, which is minor. Let me show you what I mean. So to keep things simple, we’re in the key of A minor here. And using our white-note hack, you get A minor by playing all the white notes from A to A. Then, to find the relative major key, you simply count up to the third note of your minor scale. So, the relative major key of A minor, is C major. What that means, is that A minor and C major have the exact same notes. If that seems like sorcery to you, then you definitely need to read our free book (download below)!

So, by starting our progression on the Cmaj chord, listeners will think we’re in the key of C major, but then when we hit the Am chord, they’re gonna start getting drawn into the key of A minor, and they’re not getting out! And if you’re interested in why this is in the key of A minor, and not C major, it’s because of all the time spent on the Am chord, which anchors this progression into the key of A minor. And by the way, if you need help writing chord progressions, check out the simple step-by-step guide in our Songwriting & Producing PDF (click & scroll down).

Finally, here’s a couple other things to consider when writing arpeggios. Be sure to use different note values for variation. David actually only uses 1/8 notes in his arpeggios, so we’ve thrown in a few 1/16 notes to spice things up. Also, change some chords in your progression on unexpected beats. Every time David changes chords, it’s on beat 1 or beat 3, so we’ve added some variation by changing chords on beat 2 (here) and beat 4+.

Just a couple quick things before the final playthrough. Firstly, we intentionally wrote these arpeggios to be very similar to David Guetta’s, but we did that for the sake of this lesson. So, now that you know the theory hack, we want you to explore how you can use it creatively with your own musical personality, so it sounds like you! Secondly, if you wanna learn how to write great songs (and finish them!), then check out our cutting-edge online apprenticeship course, where you’ll join over 400 apprentices from over 40 countries, who’re all learning our secret art of song-whispering!

Alright, that’s it. We really hope you found this video helpful, and if you did, subscribe and hit the bell to get notifications. Also, what do you think of this new David Guetta single? We’d love to know, so drop us a comment on YouTube. Thanks for joining the Hack Music Theory revolution, enjoy the video/podcast, and we’ll see you next week!

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

LEARN
1: Read our free book (below) & watch our YouTube videos
2: Read our "Part 1" book & "Songwriting & Producing" PDF
3: Learn our Secret Art of Song-Whispering, and effortlessly finish your music!

ABOUT
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!).