Unlocking the Emotional Power of Chords

Produce more compelling music by harnessing the underlying emotional power of chords and harmony.

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Why do some songs tug on our heartstrings while others fall flat? Conveying moods and emotions is a key element of making great music, and doing it well requires a deep understanding of chords and harmony. It's what allows modern music producers and songwriters to convey a sense of danger, triumph, or melancholy. 

This six-week course will show you how to craft compelling chord progressions in your music. We'll analyze the chords used in music from across the contemporary landscape, and equip you to use them in your own productions and compositions. You'll be challenged to write your own mood-setting music by creating tracks for topliners, TV ads, film trailers, and more. By the end of this course, you'll be able to harness more interesting chord progressions to provoke powerful emotional reactions in your listeners.

If you're looking for our more advanced harmony course The Creative Power of Advanced Harmony, click here

Ethan Hein

Music Technologist & Theory Nerd

Ethan Hein is an adjunct professor of music technology at NYU and Montclair State University, and a founding member of the NYU Music Experience Design Lab, under the leadership of Alex Ruthmann. You can follow all his explorations of music theory, music education, and pop music at

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unlocking the emotional power of chords
ethan hein
song analysis
chord progressions
chord scales

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Take this course for as low as $12/month with a Soundfly subscription, and get access to all the creative courses we offer, and much more. Cancel anytime.

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custom mentorship program here.

Communicate Powerful Emotions Through Your Music

By the end of this course, you’ll be able to harness more interesting chord progressions to create powerful emotional reactions in your listeners.

Build More Interesting Chord Progressions

We go through a variety of chord types and scales to add lots of new harmonic tools to your tool belt.

Learn to Communicate the Moods You Want

We examine how different harmonic tools can be used to craft different emotional palettes in your music.

Practice Turning Theory into Action

We give you realistic mock writing prompts, challenging you to put what you've learned into your music right away.

Study Common Chord Progressions in Use

We look at a whole bunch of popular songs from across genres and how they use chords to create moods.


Add a custom mentorship session on top of your course subscription to work through the material one-on-one with an expert mentor. Get a more personalized experience featuring weekly calls, feedback, additional resources, and more. Tell us about your goals below to learn more.

Sırma Munyar

Singer, Songwriter, Producer
  • Artist with over a million listens on Spotify
  • Recorded with Illenium, Keri Hilson, Akon, etc.
  • Singer for major TV ads

Andre Madatian

Film Scorer, Composer, Educator
  • Degree in Film Scoring from Berklee College of Music
  • Music has appeared Bravo, CBS, Oprah Winfrey Network, and more
  • Touring guitarist and performer

Joseph Capalbo

Producer, Songwriter, Educator
  • Electronic musician and producer
  • His original music has appeared on MTV, E!, NBC, and more
  • Has worked with dozens of students on theory, production, and songwriting


Course Outline

  1. Preview
    Section 1


  2. Section 2

    Smells Like Power Chords

  3. Section 3

    Fundamental Triads

  4. Preview
    Section 4

    Building Chords on Scales

  5. Preview
    Section 5

    Other Triads

  6. Section 6

    Tension and Release

  7. Section 7

    Voice Leading

  8. Section 8

    The Flow of Functional Harmony

  9. Section 9

    Working With Minor Colors

  10. Section 10

    Wrapping Up


Who is this course for?

This course is for producers, composers, and songwriters with a basic understanding of music theory and chords, looking to expand their understanding of how to use chords and chord progressions in different contexts.

What will I learn in this course?

You'll learn how to create emotionally powerful chord progressions to convey different feelings in your music. You'll also learn a ton of music theory concepts, including intervals, major and minor chords, diatonic harmonies, and much more, and use them right away in a series of real-life challenges.

Are there any pre-reqs?

This course is a continuation of our free series, Theory for Producers, about scales and modes. As such, while not required, it will definitely help to have a working knowledge of scales and notes. Ideally, you'll also want a working knowledge of a digital audio workstation (DAW), such as Ableton Live, Logic, FL Studio, or something else.

How long does this course take?

This course was designed to be completed in roughly six weeks, assuming students would have a few hours a week to spend on it. Each "week" includes a certain section and challenge activity for you to take on. That said, that timeline is just a casual recommendation — you can choose to blow through it all in one sitting or take a year with it, if you'd like.

Is there a specific start date?

You can start the course anytime. If you'd like more accountability and guided feedback from a professional, you can request to work through the course and your own goals with a Soundfly Mentor for four or six weeks, and get a more personalized experience for a specific period of time.  

Learn more about custom mentorship here.

How many lessons are there?

This course includes 54 lessons, including videos, graphics, text, activities, demos, quizzes, and much more. 

What do I get if I enroll as a subscriber?

As a subscriber, you'll get unlimited access to all courses on, including this and all our other premium courses, to go through at your own pace. This includes all the videos, tutorials, demos, quizzes, activities, downloads, and other materials within our full suite of courses.

You're also entitled to a 25% discount on our custom mentorship program, you will be invited to join our exclusive community Discord group, you'll be able join subscriber-only Study Groups, artist Q&As and workshops, annual contests and giveaways, and you'll have access to a growing list of exclusive discount perks courtesy of our partner brands. Cancel anytime.

You can find out more about subscribing here.

Can I take this course with a mentor?

Yes, absolutely. If you would like to go through the course with support, accountability, feedback, and guidance from an expert, you can request a mentor by filling out this form. A Soundfly staffperson will reach out within 48 hours to learn more about your goals, your music, and your skills level, and pair you with a mentor who can help you achieve your next musical milestone. Our mentorship program is our science-backed learning model designed to help you learn more efficiently and effectively. Your mentor will tailor the course to your experience and interests, offer detailed weekly feedback on your work, answer any questions you have, help you blow past obstacles, and keep you on track to accomplish your goals.

You can find out more about mentorship and our expert mentors here.