4.67 out of 5
9 reviews on Udemy

More Expressive Music Theory for Ableton & Electronic Music

Write daring, bold electronic music, enhance your music theory knowledge and craft expressive performances in Ableton
Will Edwards
180 students enrolled
English [Auto-generated]
Experience more creative freedom with intermediate music theory
Understand beat patterns for Dubstep, Trance, Jungle, Drum and Bass and Techno
Make Ableton expressive with an informed live performance strategy
Get people dancing... learn to use syncopation, polyrhythms and side-chain compression

* 2019 Comprehensive Update! *

This course has been completely overhauled to improve video and audio quality.

Electronic music can be daring and bold.  Music theory makes it easier to make great tracks.  Ableton Live and Ableton Push 2 provide AMAZING tools for electronic musicians.  Plus, Ableton Push 2 makes live electronic music performance and improvisation easier than ever before.  Are you a beginner at electronic music production who wants to inject your tracks with compelling textures and professional composition techniques?  Enroll now and discover compositional power tools for writing, recording and performing expressive electronic music using music theory in Ableton Live!

5-Stars – “Clear and concise way of explaining the various theory concepts, and how it can be applied to Ableton and the push 2” – Jason (Udemy Student)

  • Learn Inversions – the key to smoother, more emotional chord progressions

  • Unlock Asynchronous Polyrhythms – compelling, evolving beats on autopilot

  • Use the 12 Bar Blues “Sandbox” – the ideal “sandbox” for any musical experimentation

  • Express Yourself with Macros and Aftertouch – Ableton’s technical tools for expressive, realtime performances

  • Understand Side-chaining and much more…

Transform and Elevate

Music theory has the power to transform and elevate any electronic music production.  This course will introduce students to specific concepts in harmony, melody and rhythm that you won’t find on your own.  Each short video either introduces at topic or demonstrates its use in the real world (on real instruments).  Plus, every demonstration was filmed, hands-on, in crystal-clear HD quality, so you can learn faster and see what’s going on. 

Ableton Live (with Ableton Push 2) has several features that are only useful to electronic musicians who understand music theory.  Using scales, swing and polyrhythms are examples of features that many beginners never use (correctly).  These powerful features will benefit you even more once you understand the age-old musical language that all great music relies upon – music theory.  Each lesson is likely to inspire a new direction – either in performance or composition.

This course moves beyond very basic music theory (I cover that in another course) and gets on with the good stuff! We’ll focus on intermediate music theory and rhythm theory concepts.  The topics presented here will make a measurable difference in your tracks and will directly build on your understanding of music theory basics (triads, scales, etc.)

Concise and To-The-Point

Every lesson is concise and to the point.  Explanations are complete and the collection of topics will undoubtedly open new frontiers for beginners.  Let music theory inspire you!  For example, you’d be amazed how a polyrhythm (alone) can elevate a seemingly uninteresting track.  Once you get to know the 12 bar blues, you’ll hear it EVERYWHERE – from classic R&B to disco, rock, jazz and pop.  Students may experience one side effect: you’re ears will begin to “understand” what they’re hearing!

Beginners will discover new musical textures that they can use on day 1.  You’ll understand chord inversions, syncopation, color tones and much, much more!  Bite-sized video lectures make it easy to learn about everything from augmented chords to developing a better synth lead patch. Plus, see it all done live on the Push 2.

  • Use MIDI for expression

  • Discover expressive sound design principles

  • Get hands-on with sampling the “Amen” break

Content and Overview

Begin expanding your knowledge of harmony with the introductory series of hands-on video lessons.  You’ll learn about how to properly play chords and practice inversions using the Ableton piano roll, traditional keyboards and Ableton Push 2.  Chords and chord progressions (a.k.a. harmony) will provide the significant boost to your tracks.  Harmony defines an emotion, guides the listener’s experience and defines what your melodies can (or can’t) do.

5-Stars – “Do yourself a favor and take this course!” – Matthew (Udemy Student)

Next in the curriculum, maximize your beat-making flexibility with a series of 10 video lessons discussing rhythm-related topics.  You’ll learn about syncopation, swing and beat-making patterns AND get clear guidance for practicing these aspects for yourself.  I’ll walk you through creating a pattern on Push 2 for these genres:

  • Dubstep

  • Trance

  • Jungle

  • Drum and Bass

  • Techno

Once your harmony and rhythm skills are up to scratch, You’ll learn to redefine your EDM melodies with melody theory lessons in Section 4.  Learn to discern different tone types – especially “color” tones and use them intentionally to deepen the emotional impact of your melodies.  Skim through familiar chord progressions (that everyone’s been using since the dawn of time) and learn how to make catchy, irresistible melodies to go over the top.  This course presents many insights related to the relationship between catchy melodies and harmonic choices.

I’ve always felt that the performance is where its really at.  So, my goal is to help you get ready to rock a stage.   We’ll start by setting up an arsenal of expressive MIDI controls using Push 2.  Watch hands-on lessons about configuring macros, aftertouch and other expressive performance tools.  Plus, gain insights on how and when to ACTUALLY use these expressive tools to make each performance fun, authentic and totally original.

Plus, the course includes in-depth lessons on compression, limiting and sound design techniques.  EDM is known for pumping side-chain compression and I’ll show you how its done.  For beginners, the lessons on compression and limiting will undoubtedly raise the stakes for your finished tracks – in the studio and on stage.

Finally, this course provides practice tips for beat-making as well as developing your live improvisation skills.  This course was filmed in 4K and streams in crystal-clear 1080p HD (where available).  Throughout this course topics are demonstrated in hands-on video lessons on Novation LaunchKey 49, Push 2 and Ableton Live 9 Suite. It is not necessary for each student to have this equipment, but be warned – you’ll want to get hands-on to have the most fun with this course!  Each video demonstration has crisp image quality so that you can see exactly what is happening, learn faster and use the lessons in your own music.

Enroll now and begin making more expressive electronic music on day 1.  As your instructor, I’m always engaged and available.  I look forward to keeping in touch and helping you develop your electronic music!



Gain further insight into my background as your instructor and what I'm aiming to teach in the upcoming sections

Harmonic Concepts on Keyboard and Push 2

Why Do We Have Sharps and Flats

Learn how the interval of a perfect 5th actually explains the existence of sharps and flats.

Hands On (w/Keyboard): Sharps and Flats

Watch my concise and complete overview of all 12 notes (including the preferred enharmonic equivalents in Western music).

Octaves on Push 2

Run through how octaves are presented on the Push 2.  

Hands On (w/Keyboard, Push 2 and Ableton): Keys and Piano Roll

Develop a clear understanding of the Ableton piano roll and Push 2 and how they relate to a traditional keyboard.

Hands On (w/Push 2): Playing Harmony on Push 2

Learn a simple pattern that makes playing triads and chords on the Push 2 super-easy!

Hands On (w/Push 2): Chord Progression Review

Learn some of the world's most famous and popular chord progressions.  Plus, see how they're played on the Push 2.

Hands On (w/Keyboard): Chord Inversions Explained

Learn how to play chord inversions - the best way to optimize the efficiency of your chord progression and create ultra-smooth harmony!

Hands On (w/Push 2): Chord Inversions on Push 2

See how simple playing inversions can be, using the Push 2 in "In Key" mode.

Hands On (w/Keyboard): Inversion Examples and Demo

Retain and apply what you've learned about chord inversions by practicing in a specific way - focused on progressions.

Hands On: Modulation Using a Secondary Dominant

This lesson explains the exact method to modulate, musically, from the key of C major to the key of D Major using a music theory concept called "Secondary Dominants".

Using Augmented Chords to Convey "Mystery"

Discover how to transform the major chord into an augmented chord and use the whole tone scale to create a sense of "mystery" in your tracks.

Quiz #1: Harmonic Concepts

Intermediate Rhythmic Principles

Syncopation Explained

Learn how to subdivide your beats into 16th notes and accent specific subdivisions to create more compelling syncopated beats!

Quantize and Swing

Clarify quantize and swing - when to use them and how they relate to traditional rhythmic patterns.

Hands On (w/Push 2): Making a Dubstep Beat

Learn to build an essential dubstep beat on Push 2, including its relationship to 2-step and a back beat.

Hands On (w/Push 2): Making a Trance Beat

Wrap your head around the basic structure of a trance beat, so you can have a basis for this important genre.

Hands On (w/Push 2): Making a Jungle/Drum and Bass Beat

Watch this hands-on lesson where I use specific tempo settings with a sampled amen break to create the basis for a solid Jungle or Drum and Bass beat.

Hands On (w/Push 2): Making a Techno Beat

Learn how to build an essential techno beat.  Also, learn that cultivating the right "sounds" for techno uses synthesis and tuning.

Hands On (w/Push 2): Sampling and Slicing the "Amen" Break

Learn how sample editing works on Push 2 and then build (or download) a hands-on drum rack using Simpler and the Amen break.

Hands On (w/Push 2): Simple Sliced Drums Demo

Download the Ableton set and walk through the process of adding samples into an existing track to add a new quality to your tracks.

Polyrhythms Explained

Polyrhythms are one of the most powerful ways to inject awesomeness into your beats and rhythms while still using simple loops.  Find out how.

Asynchronous Polyrhythms

Learn how to create even more variation in your beats and ensure that your rhythm evolves and develops over time... all from a couple of simple clips.

Quiz #2: Intermediate Rhythmic Principles

Principles for Better Compositions

Hands On (w/Push 2): Review Common Chord Progressions

Get a quick start playing great chord progressions on the Push 2, by using a collection of super-valuable progressions.

Hands On (w/Push 2): Electronic 12 Bar Blues

Discover the most universal harmonic form in modern music.  This has less to do with blues and more to do with understanding the common element underlying most popular Western music.

Hands On (w/Push 2): Using Cadences

Learn how to make more compelling tracks by using cadences.  I also talk about the difference between motives and phrases.

Hands On (w/Push 2): Better Melodies with Color Tones

Move beyond "simplistic" chord tones and learn how to identify the valuable color tones in any scale and make your melodic lines significantly more engaging.

Melody Theory: Choosing Color Tones

This hands-on walkthrough demonstrates the "character" of using different color tones inside Ableton's midi piano roll editor.

Melody Theory: Making Memorable Melodies

Learn to make more memorable tracks that listeners will memorize more quickly.

Inspiring and Generating Ideas

Working in the digital world, we can use a computer's strict and logical design to help us come up with unexpected (and inspiring) ideas.  This lecture describes a simple approach I like to use to help me generate ideas.

Quiz #3: Principles for Better Compositions

Expressive Tracks and FX

Hands On (w/Keyboard): Setup Expression with Mod Wheel

Modulation is the best way to add expression during your live performance.  Watch this simple demo of how to use a typical mod wheel for expression.

Hands On (w/Push 2): Setup Expression with Macros

See a walk through of how to make your instruments even more expressive using Ableton's built in macro functionality.

Hands On (w/Push 2): Setup Expression with Mod Strip

The Push 2 has a unique mod strip and I'll demo its use in a way that is both tightly integrated with Ableton's Analog synth and also demonstrates the powerful touch sensitivity of the mod strip to create "hammer" on sounds.

Hands On (w/Push 2): Setup Expression with Aftertouch

Watch this quick tutorial on using Push 2's aftertouch capabilities in conjunction with Operator's built in assignment matrix to create more expressive sounds!

Developing a Better Lead Patch

Learn how to use the amp envelope, filter envelop and pulse width modulation (PWM) to create a more compelling and expressive lead synth patch.

FX Overview: Compression and Quickstart Settings

Learn how compression works and how to quickly find the right settings using attack, release and threshold.

FX Overview: Side-chaining (a.k.a. "Pumping")

Develop a clear understanding of the two main elements of a properly setup side-chain compressor.

FX Overview: Limiting and Limiters

Develop a clear understanding of what a limiter is (and how it differs from a compressor).

Quiz #4: Expressive Tracks and FX


Review of Harmonic Analysis (Roman Numerals)

Learn how roman numerals are used for harmonic analysis that can be used to learn tracks and progressions more quickly.

Staying Sharp on Genre-Specific Beats

Get to the bottom of the web of electronic music genres and sub-genres by understanding the main beat styles that contribute to the broad variety of electronic music.

Developing Improvisation Skills

Learn about the 2 main considerations that will make improvising easier and more fun.

Share Your Tracks!

Learn how to share your tracks with me and/or other students in the course!

You can view and review the lecture materials indefinitely, like an on-demand channel.
Definitely! If you have an internet connection, courses on Udemy are available on any device at any time. If you don't have an internet connection, some instructors also let their students download course lectures. That's up to the instructor though, so make sure you get on their good side!
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