Music Theory Breakdown: Clarity (Zedd)

March, 24 2016

Quick Fix: Clarity (Zedd)


This column aims to quickly analyze elements of popular music with an emphasis on chord progressions and relatively advanced music theory.


Zedd’s 2012 Clarity from the record of the same name is based around a single chord progression; namely and in order the chords are (essentially) Bflat, Eflat, Fm, Cm, Csharp, Aflat.


If we base our scale on Eflat Major, we get:




If we base our scale on F Minor, we get:




If we base our scale on B Minor, we get:




Whichever way you pick (the scale that best fits is left as an exercise to the reader), notice that the progression consists entirely of discrete 4th interval pairs connected by 1s (or 1 pairs connected by fourths). These are root notes for the chords (as per the key) and indicate what’s ‘possible’ in the bassline, synths, vocal patterns, etc.. Zedd is a classically-trained producer and particularly strict about staying in key; notably, almost the entire song follows the progression established in the introduction. This recurrence of interval jumps, tied into the kick rhythm and onsets of synths, bass and vocals, drives a feeling of ever-descending ‘drive’ for the song.


The pattern is provided as ‘02.mid’ and may be downloaded as part of "Free MIDI Pack 1" in the free section of the website.

Link to Free MIDI Pack 1 Download