Splice Firestarters Volume 1: R&B Chords

Illustration: Simone Noronha

Welcome to Splice’s Firestarter series! Firestarters are weekly challenges based around individual parts of full songs. Every week, we’ll highlight a new Firestarter, which might come in the form of a sample, restriction, MIDI pattern, project file, or other medium of creative inspiration. We’ll challenge you to use the week’s Firestarter to spark your creative process, then we’ll help bring you some shine by highlighting our favorite selections from your work right here on the Splice Blog!

For the first Firestarter, we’ve transcribed the chords to the intro to SZA’s “The Weekend,” then compiled them into a project file for you which you can Splice through the link provided below.

These chords inspired us specifically because of their jazzy, unsettling transitions. The suspension between B6add9 – #Fm9 in the first bar sets the tone: we’re really not used to hearing two adjacent scale degrees (C# and D#) suspended between different chords in modern pop music! But the progression is at its most striking when considering the jerky, yet smooth, hops between chords. For example, take a look at bars 5 and 6, where Producer Thankgod4cody imbues the keys’ left hand with movement by inverting the chords. The left hand plays B1 – A1 – G1 – F#1, energizing the progression with a descending motion, then jumps back up to B1 and falls to E1 to resolve.

Now it’s your turn – get creative and work with these chords by clicking here.

Does this progression inspire you to make a beat around it? Cool. Would you rather arpeggiate all the things? Go for it. Don’t like it? Switch around the order or voicings, or just change every MIDI note to something completely different. Anything that this Firestarter inspires you to try is fair game. Keep in mind, you don’t need to produce a finished track – just get your ideas into a DAW. We can’t wait to hear what you come up with!


We have this week’s Firestarter shoutouts! A big thanks to everyone who participated, we had so many submissions with different styles and vibes, it blew us away how many truly original and creative people make up our Splice community. This is truly a unique community, and we are honored to be part of it.

First shoutout goes to nalestar! Nalestar’s Firestarter is a short but sweet tour through lush chords, a beat that morphs through styles, and an overall vibe that we would not mind chilling inside of for a long time. Nalestar even included a video in the Firestarter description that walks you through every step of the creation process!

Nalestar, huge thanks for sharing your sound and your process — we love every chance we get to peek behind the curtain and learn from each other.

Next shoutout goes to risatmusic! Risatmusic is new to the Splice community but wasted no time cooking up a Firestarter that just gets more and more joyful as it goes along. Built around a rhythmic use of the chords we provided, Risatmusic’s Firestarter brings in new elements that never step on each other’s toes, and instead keep the track evolving with new kinds of good feelings for our ears and brains:

Risatmusic, thanks for joining our community and dropping a Firestarter that racked up over a thousand plays in just a few days!

Our final shoutout of the week goes to RubenGalvan. RubenGalvan took the chords and after a chill intro, made them swing with thoughtful production and a little drop of water sound that feels exactly right. The feel is playful and RubenGalvan’s unique take on the chords’ rhythms got our heads moving. Check it out:

That’s it for this week’s Firestarter! Thanks again to everyone who put in their time to share their work. There are so many shoutouts we’d like to give, so keep submitting, keep listening to each other’s sounds, and keep giving comments. Come back for the next Firestarter — we can’t wait to listen.

February 21, 2018