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Music Theory for Electronic Musicians, Part 1: Chords

Electronic music theory, digital music theory, and dance music theory. Learn music theory with ableton live and more!
Jason Allen
6,615 students enrolled
English [Auto-generated] More
By the end of this course, you will have improved your tracks by understanding how to build chords and melodies that work together.
Understand and apply minor chords
Use the circle of fifths to generate new ideas for your own tracks
Work within minor keys to write compelling melodies and basslines
The Piano Roll editor
Using Octaves in Bass Lines
The Black Keys (not the band!)
Finding C and Middle C
The Perfect 5th
Finding Fifths
Being "in key"
The pattern of a key
Moveable Patterns
The major and minor third
Building triads
Chord progressions
What is diatonic?
Finding all the chords in a key
Using roman numerals


Welcome to the MUSIC THEORY FOR ELECTRONIC MUSIC Guide – Part 1!

In this class we learn how to work with the piano roll editor in a DAW to make harmonies, melodies, and whole tracks, and then we expand on those ideas and work with harmonic patterns (harmony) that is more rich than just major and minor. 

Production Techniques Through Theory

The most important part of this class is an extensive foray into using these techniques in actual tracks. I’ll be creating 9 tracks through this class, right along with you, each using a different technique so you can see exactly how I incorporate it right into my music.

Full Sessions

After each production project, I’ll give you the whole session of what I made using the techniques for you to play with. You can download it, expand on it, re-work it, and even release it as your work.

If Your Music is Missing Something, This is Probably It.

If you are finding that you are writing track after track, and while they sound good, there is something they are missing – then this it. You are missing the sense of harmony that professional producers have. In this class, I’ll arm you with all the tools you need to produce those tracks just like you imagine them.

Who should take this course?  
Anyone interested in producing their own music. This will get you up and running and give your tracks a unique sound in no time.

This course consists of video lectures, which all contain a session in Ableton Live 9. If you are using a different program (or none at all), no worries! This isn’t a class on how to use Ableton Live, and the concepts can be applied to any DAW.

Topics include:

  • Using the Piano Roll Editor

  • Octaves

  • Finding C and Middle C

  • The Perfect 5th

  • What it means to be “in key”

  • Moveable Patterns

  • Major and Minor Intervals

  • Building Triads

  • Chord Progressions

  • 7th Chords

  • … And much more!!!

The course is a roadmap to finding the missing piece in your tracks, or just getting started making great tracks.

All the tools you need to make, produce, and start your music career are included in this course and the entire course is based on real-life experiences – not just academic theory.

Please click the “Take This Course” button so you can start making great tracks today.

** I guarantee that this course is the most thorough music theory course available ANYWHERE on the market – or your money back (30 day money back guarantee) **

Closed captions have been added to all lessons in this course.


Praise for Courses by Jason Allen:

⇢  “It seems like every little detail is being covered in an extremely simple fashion. The learning process becomes relaxed and allows the complex concepts to get obsorbed easily. My only regret is not taking this course earlier.” – M. Shah

⇢  “Great for everyone without any knowledge so far. I bought all three parts… It’s the best investment in leveling up my skills so far..” – Z. Palce

⇢  “Excellent explanations! No more or less than what is needed.” – A. Tóth

⇢  “VERY COOL. I’ve waiting for years to see a good video course, now I don’t have to wait anymore. Thank You!” – Jeffrey Koury

  “I am learning LOTS! And I really like having the worksheets!” – A. Deichsel

⇢  “The basics explained very clearly – loads of really useful tips!” – J. Pook

⇢  “Jason is really quick and great with questions, always a great resource for an online class!” M. Smith


Students who register for this course will receive ongoing exclusive content and discounts to all future classes in the series. 

Class Overview
An overview of what we will cover in this class. 
Asking Questions

Understanding Music Theory from an Electronic Music perspective

The Piano Roll Editor

First, we need to understand the Piano Roll Editor - where it comes from, and how it works.


Our first interval: The Octave.

Using Octaves

Octaves, just by themselves, can be quite interesting. Lets play around with them a little bit here.

The Black Keys (not the band)

Lets talk a little bit about how the black keys work, and what we call them.

Finding C and Middle C

We use "Middle C" as our home base when working with notes. In this video we will talk about how to find it.

Section 1 Summary

So far so good! We are on our way to understanding Music Theory. A little review before we move on.

The Perfect 5th, and Being "In Key"

The Perfect Fifth

Our next interval is the Perfect Fifth - slightly harder to use than the octave, but still pretty safe.

Finding Fifths
Finding the roots of triads, and building our basic triads.
Being "In Key"

In this video we look at what it means to be "in key".

The Pattern of a Key

In order to find a key, all you need to do is remember this pattern!

Fifth Examples

A few examples of how fifths can work in context.

More With Keys, The Third, and The Basic Triad

Moveable Patterns

Music Theory is made up of a bunch of patterns - some of them are "moveable" - which can save you time when learning them!

The Major and Minor Third

The Third could be said to be our most important interval. It has 2 different types: Major and Minor.

Building Triads

Triads are the most basic (and most used in electronic music) type of chords. This is how to find them, and how to make them.

Chord Progressions

Music is made up of chord progressions: Sequences of chords that work together.

Diatonic Chord Progressions

What is Diatonic?

"Diatonic" is a fancy word that means "in the key." But it is an important concept to know when putting together chord progressions.

Finding All The Chords

Another pattern to remember - this one tells us the quality (major or minor) of all the chords in a key.

Roman Numerals

In traditional music theory, we use roman numerals to label chords. We don't care about traditional analysis, but this technique is useful to us for a few reasons.

Example Song Analysis No.1

In this video, we will pick apart a track and see if we can find the chords, the key, and the chord quality for a section of it.


If you only remember one thing from this class, remember this lesson. This is the trick that will make your music sound professional.

7th Chords

7th Chords Overview

When we build triads, we use the root, the third, and the fifth. With seventh chords, we go one more step.

Diatonic 7th Chords

We can build our diatonic chord progression sequence using 7th chords, and see how the three types of seventh chords work together.

Maj7 (Major 7) Example

One of my favorite examples of a major 7th chord, from a classic tune.

Dominant 7th Chords

Dominant 7th chords (the ones we just call "7th" chords) have a very important function. In this lessons I'll show you how that works.

Blues and the 7th Chord

The Blues is a genre of music entirely built around the 7th chord. Want your track to sound a little bluesy? Use 7th chords.

The Other Intervals

The Fourth

The fourth isn't used to build triads normally, but you've seen it before when we looked at inversions.

The Second

The second can be major or minor, and has an "evil twin" in the 7th.

The Sixth

We've seen the sixth before as well - a lot! Its inversion is a third.

Song Analysis No. 2

Now that we know how to find the key and the chords, lets dive in to another song and see if we can make sense of it.

Wrap Up

Wrap Up

Thats it! Thanks for hanging out - I have a few quick parting words to send you off with!

Some Extra Video Resources

I recently made some cool (animated!) theory videos for another project that you might enjoy. Here they are!

Updates! Some answers to popular questions.

Question 1: Making the F# and C# chords in D Major

Question 1: This might be a dumb question, but I'm confused with how to make the F# and C# chords in the D major scale for the homework. For F#, I have the A for the third, and C# for the fifth, because I still counted the whole (white on the keyboard) notes only.

Question 2: Inversions

Question 2: Can the root note be inverted?

Question 3: Changing Keys

Question 3: Now that i know what a key is,I've heard that few electronic songs have multiple keys (Daftpunk) in different parts of a song ie.chorus,bridge. What impact does it make ? because some people refer to it as the energy of the song....

Question 4: Can I use the Ableton Trial version?

Question 4: I'm interested in taking your course. I was wondering if you knew there were any limitations for the trial version of Ableton? For example, can I export audio tracks or save projects?

Question 5: Using MuseScore

A few people have asked me about what software is around for working with notes. This is the answer.

Bonus Lecture: Discount Offers & Mailing List

There is so much more to learn!

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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