Lesson 3: Basic Music Theory for Live Electronic Music
You will learn how to apply music theory concepts, specifically using the Camelot Wheel, to ensure harmonic compatibility by modifying clips and sample loops or using MIDI effects like Scale in Ableton Live.
Approximately 60 minutes
Same as last week.
For this lesson, download the 'Chop and Swing' Pack which is available to all Ableton Live users - click here for instructions.
You can use a MIDI controller, to get a more tactile performance experience, but you can also launch clips using your laptop keyboard.
1.Introduction to Music Theory Integration in electronic music (5 minutes)
What is the importance of music theory in creating harmonically pleasing performances?
- sample loops come in different keys
- when sample loops are not harmonically compatible, combining them creates clashes
How the Camelot Wheel is a tool to help with harmonic mixing / sample selection
- Samples with the same key are perfect key matches - 8A will always go with 8A
- Samples with numbers immediately up or down will also be compatible - 8A will always go with 7A or 9A
- Samples with same digit are compatible - 8A will go with 8B.
2. Importing MIDI Clips into your Ableton Live project (15 minutes)
Open Ableton Live in the Session View (vertical columns)
Open the Pack called 'Chop and Swing' and go down into the subfolder MIDI Clips / Tonal
2.1 Working with Clips that are harmonically compatible
|Importing MIDI Clips|
For this lesson we will load MIDI Clips that are in the key of A minor (A min) or harmonically compatible:
- MIDI Clips with the same key are perfect key matches - 8A (A minor) will always go with 8A (A minor)
- MIDI Clips with numbers immediately up or down will also be compatible - 8A (A minor) will always go with 7A (D minor) or 9A (E minor)
- Even though 7A is not compatible with 9A (more than one step up / down)
- MIDI Clips with same digit are compatible - 8A (A minor) will go with 8B (C major).
2.2 Working with Clips that are not harmonically compatible
- Try loading a MIDI Clip that is in B minor - hear how it clashes
- In the Clip view, select all the notes using Ctrl-A
- Use your laptop arrow keys to move it down 2 steps to A minor - now it fits
|How many steps (semitones) to move up or down|
3. Importing Sample Loops into your Ableton Live project (15 minutes)
For this lesson, load sample loops that are in the key of A minor (A min) or harmonically compatible:
- Sample loops with same key (A min and Amin)
- Sample loops with keys whose Camelot numbers one step up or down (8A with 7A (D minor) or 9A (E minor) but remember 7A and 9A don't match)
- Sample loops with keys of same Camelot digit (8A with 8B (C minor))
- Try loading a sample loop that is in F minor - hear how it clashes
- In the Clip view, select the Pitch and move it up +4 semitones (steps) to A minor
- You could also move it down -3 semitones to D minor!
4. Playing melodies in the correct key with MIDI Effects: Scale (15 minutes)
Remember this keyboard icon?
- When it is on, your laptop keys ASDFGHJK can be used to play notes or finger-drumming
- When it is on, you cannot use your laptop keys to launch MIDI clips or sample loops
For this section, make sure the icon is activated.
Ableton Live can help you stay in the correct key as you play along on the keyboard
- Create a new MIDI track
- From the Browser, go to the Instrument / Drift, and drag over one of the presets in the Synth Keys folder
- Then from the MIDI Effects, drag in the preset from the Scale folder called "Minor" or "Minor Pentatonic"
- Change the Base to "A" - now everything you play is automatically in the key of A minor!
Recording and Performing (recap from previous session)
You can record a performance in Session View using the "Arrangement Record" button (black circle). Press the space bar to stop recording.
You can switch to Arrangement view, and see what you have recorded.
When your mouse is at the Clip Overview section, you can
- Click and drag horizontally to move around
- Click and drag vertically to zoom in and out