Learn Music Theory Terms and Concepts with Ableton Live | Will Edwards | Skillshare

Learn Music Theory Terms and Concepts with Ableton Live

Will Edwards, Artist. Creative Problem Solver. Musician

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16 Lessons (28m)
    • 1. Introduction and Overview

    • 2. What is Pitch?

    • 3. Enharmonic Equivalents

    • 4. Pitches and Enharmonics on Keyboard

    • 5. Understanding Double Sharps/Flats

    • 6. Chromatic Scale on Push 2

    • 7. Why Do We Have Sharps/Flats?

    • 8. Sharps and Flats on Keyboard

    • 9. Octaves on Push 2

    • 10. Accidentals Explained

    • 11. What is a Half Step?

    • 12. What is a Whole Step?

    • 13. Intervals Explained

    • 14. Intervals Demonstrated on Push 2

    • 15. Key Signatures Explained

    • 16. Applying Key Signatures on Push 2


About This Class

Developing confidence with music theory (and using it in your electronic music) starts with a firm grasp of the fundamentals.  You'll quickly learn about pitch, sharps and flats, the chromatic scale, accidentals, intervals and more.  If you don't know what those are, you're making electronic music harder than it needs to be.  Every time you want to learn something in music theory, you'll encounter these terms and concepts. If you're not comfortable with these terms and concepts then you'll be at a disadvantage in learning quickly.  

Learning music theory is fun!  But, not if it doesn't make sense.  Do yourself a favor and sit down with this quick course and familiarize yourself with these terms and concepts.  You'll be glad you did! Music theory is a wide, wonderful world and you'll need to know the language if you want to succeed.


1. Introduction and Overview: Hi, My name is Will Edwards and welcome to my course on music theory, terms and concepts. So this course is part of a larger Siri's that's really focused on a built in users. So a lot of the demonstrations are going to be done with a push to or, ah, launch Key 49 which isn't able to keyboard controller. So this course is really just looking at terms and concepts that he used a lot in music theory. It's not designed itself to be a music theory course that I do offer other courses that talk more about music theory concepts like harmony, building scales, building cords, that sort of thing. But when you get into those lessons, you can encounter terms like whole steps and half steps. He may encounter terms like intervals, accidental Sharps flats and this is the course. That's gonna kind of explain to you what those different concepts are in order to support you. Learning Maurin depth music theory lessons down the road says a great course for you, even if you're not enabled in user. Of course, music theory concepts in terms are universal to music theory, applied anywhere on any instrument this is not unique to able to, and it's just that a lot of the demonstrations air done with a built in related contexts at the end of the course. Once you've had a chance to watch all the videos have recommended course project or an outline for a project, which is gonna help you really internalize this information. The project simply outlines a process by which you can start practicing intervals using whole steps and half steps. Started naming notes start recognizing, especially on the push and chromatic mode, which pads and which pad colors indicate sharps or flats like black and white keys represent that on a piano. So it's a great study in all the topics that this course covers. Of course, I suggest that you do that project and maybe share with myself and other students, even collaborate and learn a little more deeply. If you have any questions, I'm always available to answer questions to please reach out to me and without any further ado, let's continue with the course 2. What is Pitch?: Let's start our lecture off with talking about it and the chromatic scale. The Chromatic Scale is a collection of all the notes used in Western music Western music. He does use a unique set of notes compared to some other musical paradigms around the world . So you'll often hear me in this course. Talk about Western music. And that's why now there are 12 pitches in Western music in the chromatic scale. There's a a sharp or beef lab that's the same pitch, and we'll talk about that later on in the lecture about and harmony equivalents. Then we have be see C Sharp or D flat. Dee Dee Sharp, Courtney Flatt, E F. Again There is no and harmonic equivalent between E and F. Then you have F sharp or G flop G G sharp or a flat. And then we're back to a So you see, if you look at a keyboard or you look at your able to push, you'll notice that there are many instances where the same pitch or the same name is being played in more than one area. And that's because keyboard, which is the simplest way to see this is actually a series of Octomom's that Siris of these 12 pitches grouped one after another. That's why you'll see a pattern of white and black keys. But more on that later. I just want you to be clear at this point in time, what a pitch is, what the chromatic scale is and what notes are within the chromatic scale. Now, one more note about pitch pitch is defined by Hurts, which is a measurement of frequency. So if a string resonate 440 times in a second, it generates a sound or hitch that as human beings we call a The Pitch A is technically defined as a residence off 440 residents per second or Hertz, so pitch is also a specific measurement. It's a scientific thing. It's not entirely cultural, and it's not entirely socialized. It is actually in case that there is a correct a at least what we've determined to be. A. And then there's many other frequencies. We don't have a note name for every possible frequency. For example, 443 does not have its own pitch name, but 440 does so pitch could be measured in Hertz. It could be talked about in Western music as having a note name like G, Sharp or D, and all the 12 notes that we use in Western music are within a large collection we refer to as the chromatic scale. 3. Enharmonic Equivalents: Now that we know what the chromatic scale consists of, it's important to understand a little more about why some notes have two names. For example, we could call a note C sharp or D flat, but it would sound the same to are here now. See, Sharp and Deflect are actually the same pitch. However, it's two different names, and when that happens, we refer to these two notes as being end harmonic equivalence, sometimes in music. For example, if we're in the key of B flat, it's appropriate to refer to the note as Deflect Nazi Sharp. Likewise, if we're in a key like C Sharp, then it's appropriate to refer to the note as C sharp and not deep flat. You'll find out more about scales as we continue, but for right now it's important to realize that sometimes a note has two names, and that's OK. It is actually the same pitch, and the pitch is actually interchangeable. Deep Latin C sharp are the same pitch. They just have to different names 4. Pitches and Enharmonics on Keyboard: So far, we've talked about what it pitches and what an and harmonic equivalent is. I want to demonstrate them quickly on a traditional keyboard, so you're familiar with the visual side of understanding this. Let's start with a note. See, moving up to the D Theo Blackie in the middle could either be called D flat or it could be called C Sharp. Either way, this pitch never changes. Its name can change, however, the actual pitch never changes. 5. Understanding Double Sharps/Flats: Now it's time to consider some wackier concepts around note names. Earlier, we could learn about the chromatic scale and what a pitch is. Sometimes in an harmonic equivalence, a note can actually have two names like C Sharp in D Flat. Well, sometimes you also get these very bizarre and wacky things double Sharps or double flats. And they're especially disconcerting because they actually there and harmonic equivalents are other normal note names. So, for example, a C double sharp in some contexts is an appropriate note name and a C double. Sharp is really the same as D. So it's very confusing. Why, you would call a D I c e double sharp. I'm not gonna get into too many real world examples here. I just wanna specify that if you really want to look at this deeply, figure out what notes would be in the key of a sharp. Now, there are two rules that you always have to follow when you're writing out of scale. And if you try to ride out the scale a sharp following these two, you're gonna find you have to have a C double sharpen at double sharp in a G double shirt. Okay, The first rule is you have to follow the whole half whole whole whole half scale pattern, which we haven't talked about quite yet, but we'll talk about it in a lecture very soon. When you follow that model, you wind up with seven specific pictures. How are those pitches named? The rule is that you have to have every letter represented. Okay, so you can't have two kinds of the or two kinds, and D. You have to have one of each letter representative. If you try to follow that pattern and you write out the scale a sharp, then you'll wind up using C double sharp F double sharp and G double sharp so you can see for yourself. And so in that contact. Those note names are legitimate. They are fair. They are riel, but we won't run into them very much in electronica music or really any Western music that very rare, even in the classical or jazz realm. But I wanted to bring this topic up. Four is to make sure that your training is complete. I don't want you to come out of this court having any vague concept, and it's important to understand. Sometimes a double, sharp or double Platt will exist. One other kind of similar wacky topic is that although typically there is no be sharp, it would be the same A. C. Sometimes it is appropriate to name that pitch. Be sharp. Sometimes it's appropriate to call a B a C flat. I don't want to get into real world examples because it doesn't apply a lot to electronic music or really all like of a lot of Western music in general. I just want to make sure we brought up the topic, and in all fairness, you are educated about the fact that they do exist. They can occur and under started circumstances. They're totally legitimate. 6. Chromatic Scale on Push 2: thistles, a simple demonstration of how you can play the chromatic scale on the push. There are many scales built into the bush. The chromatic scale is one of them. This is how you access it. First, you want to press the scale button. Now in the upper left, you want us press the button under in key and chromatic to select dramatic. I've prepared, unable to project that you can download along with this lesson that contains just one channel with a basic analog sawtooth wave in it. That way, once you've selected the chromatic scale, you can go ahead and play. What you'll notice is that all of the darkened pads represent black keys, while all of the white pads represent natural keys from the keyboard. 7. Why Do We Have Sharps/Flats?: in my level one music theory for electronic music class. I explain what pitch is and then how to build scales. We talk in that course about double sharps and flats, that sort of thing. In this course, I want to get a little deeper into why we have a chromatic scale and how those notes come about and also why we have sharps and flats. So let's address the first question. Where does the chromatic scale come from? While in essence there is a very magical interval of 1/5 what we call a perfect fifth an example would be the distance from the notes C to G. Now 1/5 is actually a special interval because 1/5 actually is a pitch that resonates within. See. In other words, if we tune a string to the pitch, see and we pluck that string, then that string actually resonates at a number of frequencies, one of which is C and the next loudest is G. So if we move in perfect fifths, we wind up with 12 notes. We wind up with C and G, we wind. It would be an f sharp and so on so forth and If you do this round in a circle until you come back to the same note, you wind up with 12 individual knows and in that way we wind up with a 12 note chromatic scale in Western music. Let me address the second topic, which is where the sharps and flats come from. Well, in essence, when we build a key, we need to have sharps and flats in order to minimize the number of alterations or sharps and flats that were using. So, for example, the key of C has no sharps and flats. It follows that the key of C Sharp has seven sharps and the key of C flat has seven flats Now. In that case, there's not really any way you can write c flat except to talk about it as being the key of B. Now the key of B that only has five sharps. So in the old days when you actually write out music on paper, it was a lot easier to write out five Sharps, then right out seven flats. Musically, the pictures are identical between the keys of C flat and be, however, be takes up a little bit less memory to keep track of five Sharps running seven flats. And there in lies the main reason why we have sharps and flats. That's a review of where the chromatic scale comes from. If you need more information about this, refer to the level one course that I offer here and then I'm gonna continue with some more music theory training coming up. 8. Sharps and Flats on Keyboard: Now that we understand where sharps and flats come from and why we have them, it's important to see them visually on keyboard. One of the great advantages of using a keyboard is that a lot of this music theory is demonstrated visually with white and black keys. Let's look at a simple active from A to A. We have these notes that's from A to A and you'll notice there. 12 unique notes. 123456789 10 11 12 For their 13th note being the octave, this is a than to be flat for a sharp B, C, C sharp or defect de sharp or E flat E. Then you have F F sharp or G flat, G G sharp or a flat back to a so each of the black notes could be called a sharp or flat. And generally speaking, it's gonna have one preferred name because that's gonna be the name where it's used in keys that don't have double sharps and double flats. That sort of thing, that's not too important. But here, the preferred names in general you're gonna have a be flap, C, D C sharp or D flat. Those are both quite common D e flat, much more common than the sharp E f f sharp G and a flat. Those are the most common names for these notes. It's helpful to see them on the keyboard. I recommend you practice them and memorize them. Furthermore, understand that the whole keyboard is just a series of octaves, from a to A to A to a so on so forth. In other words, a few master a 12 key range, then you've mastered the whole keyboard. 9. Octaves on Push 2: one of the most important concepts to understand in music theory is the concept of an octave now on the push knocked. It is very easy to identify, and I want to just run through a demonstration of that here for you, so you're very clear on it. First of all, what is inactive and active is the point at which a note is a double or half of its original frequency. In other words, when you start with an A that is tuned at 440 hertz, then you double that 880 hurts. You get another a one up to higher. So essentially, when you double or half in you going either a knocked up up or knocked it down and the octaves air always represented on the push as the colored pass. Let's listen to an example of an octave. These are both A's, and I can say that because when you going to scale, I can see that I have a major selected now. If I were to select D, suddenly those Air D's or B flat. So essentially these red pads are always representing octaves, and then the scale, which I have selected. His nature allows me to be assured that all of the pads in between represent intervals within the scale, So route the 23 That's a major third since I have a major scale for 567 October. 10. Accidentals Explained: Let's talk a little bit about accidental the's air some of the most interesting notes you can use in your melodies, and you could also use them in your courts to create interest. Intention dynamics An accidental, isn't it? It's not in the scale. We look at a C major scale. We know that. See, E g and the quarter tones. We know that the deep on a those are all color comes. What about C Sharp or a flat? Well, those are called accidental and using them in your competition, either in your malady or in your armory, and really contribute a lot of interesting texture here. You suggestions on specific dramatic that you should look at the flat third in this case E flat and the sharp poor, which would be up shar those air two topics. Another very interesting one is actually the sharp fine, which could also be called Platzeck. That would be the note g sharp working flat, So using those three accidental in your compositions will give it a new, interesting flavor. One of the best ways to use accident is is in a baseline when you're moving between those that are in the scale, so you can actually chromatic Lee migrate from the tuna in your baseline and in base. It sounds especially nice. Using accidental is can really elevate your compositions. So I suggest you explore them, try them out, work with the three that I suggested. But try them all out. See which ones have the flavor you're looking for. They won't work all the time, but they're very effective when they do work. And it's nice to know what they're called, how they're used and understand that you can use them even though they're not formally in the gate. 11. What is a Half Step?: All right, So now we've discovered all the pitches were familiar with chromatic scale and harmonic equivalents. We talked a little bit about those wacky concepts like double Sharps, double flat. Before we get in, actually building scales, though we need to start talking about intervals. So within our chromatic scale, we've got 12 notes and any distance from any one of those notes to any other of those 12 notes yields an interval. The 1st 2 intervals we're gonna be talking about our half step and a whole step. 1/2 step is the simplest interval. It's simply from one note to the next note. Now it's not necessarily from A to B. It would actually be from a a sharp. An easier way to think about this. If you're a guitar player or piano player, is that 1/2 step? Is one key or one friend? Next, we're gonna talk about whole steps, and then we'll have all the vocabulary we need to start building major scales 12. What is a Whole Step?: next interval that you need to know is the whole step. Whole step is very simple if you understand 1/2 step because it's just too half steps adjacent to each other. So on a guitar on a fretboard, for example, it would be to friends on a piano or a keyboard. It would be two keys, so to half steps equals a whole step. It's really that simple. Now we're gonna talk a little bit more about other intervals because, of course, we can move through the whole chromatic scale from any notes in the chromatic scale. Any of the other 12 notes in the chromatic scale and each distance is gonna provide us with a new interval. Those intervals can always be divided by half steps in whole stepped, but it's actually easier to give them names. Once you get into five or six or 7/2 steps, it's a lot easier. Just call that, uh, that's a perfect fourth. Or that's an augmented fourth or perfect. If rather than calling it that's 5/2 steps in that 6/2 steps and so on so forth, we're gonna talk more about the other intervals moment. Right now, it's important to understand hold steps in half steps are the essential interval. And there the building blocks for scales, which we're gonna talk about later as well. 13. Intervals Explained: So far, we've talked about the chromatic scale and the concept of an interval being 1/2 step whole step. However, there are other intervals, and they're really almost more useful and start talking about melody and harmony later on in the course. So I want to illuminate for you now that there are 12 different intervals within the chromatic scale. Technically, I guess there's 13 because you can come around full this since the octopus. Well, I've got a cheat sheet that you can download and so you can use it as a reference. It's a pdf, and you can use that as a reference for all of the intervals I'm about to go over first. We talked about 1/2 step, but it also has the name a mine or second, and I want to explain why it's called a minor second. Okay, we start with half steps and hold steps, and later on the course, we're gonna talk about how to build a scale using a pattern of whole steps in half steps. But let's just assume for now that we start with a major scale. The easiest major scale to talk about academics is the C major scale because there's no sharp this class. It's just see the F g A b and then the Octopussy well between C and D. There's another note there. See sharp or D flat, depending on which and harmonic name that you decide to call that enough. Well, what is that? No, in the context of C major, it's not in the scale. It's closest to the second, which is the but it's a D flat or being harmonic Name. C sharp. So what do we call it? We call it the interval of a minor second. It's not. It's not a major second, it's a minor second. Now we have the interval of a whole step that's from C to D, and we would call that a major second. It's the second within a major scale. Coming to the third in the scale, which would be E in the context of C Major E flap would be considered a minor heard while he would be the major Third. A major third is also to half steps and two more half steps. It's two whole steps put together that is the distance, or the interval of a major third as well. Any interval can be divided by half steps. Not every interval can be divided. My whole steps, for example, a perfect fourth, which is from Seat F. That distance is 5/2 steps, but only 4.5 holds that. Again. We're getting into one of the reasons why it's not appropriate to just referred. All intervals has being half steps and hold steps or combinations of those. It's more helpful to think of mine or third for perfect ports to give each distance its own name. Let's continue from the four, adding 1/2 step. You get untenable. We call a try item or an augmented fourth. This has 1/3 name who call it a diminished fifth. Then you go one more half step. You get a perfect fit one more half steps till you get a minor sixth. One more. You get a major six, followed by a minor seven, a major seven and then you're back at the Octomom. So those are all the intervals that exists in Western music, and they can be looked at in terms of any specific key. That's where their names really come from. 2nd 3rd 4th 5th or they can be looked at in terms of the chromatic scale as being a distance between any two notes in the chromatic scale. 14. Intervals Demonstrated on Push 2: Let's talk about how you can play different intervals on the push to. First of all, you have a number of options. If you know the intervals that are within the major or minor scale already, then you can simply select a scale by using the scale button, navigating to major or minor, using the controls along the top. Or you can select chromatic. And then you can play the intervals similarly to the manner in which intervals air played on a keyboard. Let's look at both of those. Now I'm gonna start with chromatic and show you how you can play an interval of a minor second and a major second. If you were to start with this note and you want to play a minor second one key, one fret one pad when you're in a chromatic method. If you wanted to play a major second, that would be a whole step a minor. Third, a major third, a perfect fourth. You can move through all 12 intervals, moving all the way up to the octave 15. Key Signatures Explained: in the first part of the courts. When we were talking about building scales, we encountered this concept of Sharps flats and how scales contain a different collection of numbers. Now we want to bring up the topic of a key signature and talk a little bit about what that ISS. So a key signature is a way of telling a musician that all the measures of music coming up are written in a specific key. And really, what that means is which notes or sharp or flat on which notes or natural. So when I see, for example, key signature that has three sharps, this sharps here are seizure F Sharp and G shar that conveys that all the sea knows all the F notes and all the G notes anywhere on this staff should be assumed to be sharp. Now, one of the things to understand for why we use key signatures is to go back 200 years when they're actually copyists. Who would write out music or each member off the orchestra so composer would compose a great pizza music, Give it to the copyist and the copyists job among many was to make sure that There was an accurate copy of the music that was appropriate for each member of the orchestra, said the orchid, because orchestra could play music. Now, when you do that and you have to write sharps or flats all over the page, it's a big headache and it's more likely that you'll make a mistake. So the key signature was a way to work with the fact that you'd have sharks all over the page or flats all over the page. But you don't want to have to write them all out as they found a key signature, then has a secondary function, which is it's kind of a nice quickly to convey what key we're in, right? So when I see three sharps, I know I'm in the key of a A Major has three sharps. It's the only key with three sharps, and every key has a unique combination of sharps or flats or natural right. So by using a key signature weekend, convey first of all ah, whole lot of information for several measures of big, and we can also convey quite quickly what key were in in one thing on the for you and I want you to keep in mind if you go back to our talk about building a major and minor scales . We talked about this idea rubella, Tin miner. We talked about how a was the relative minor of C major. And so when you see a key signature for C, that also could be the key signature a minor. Now, major and minor keys are separate in terms off whether or not a piece of music is in a minor or C major, even though both scales or relative and they both contain the same, so just keep that in mind. 16. Applying Key Signatures on Push 2: key signatures in written music are exactly like e signatures on the push. However, you have to understand them from an abstract perspective Toe work with them within push. Essentially, if you know, the key signature is three sharps. That's the same as a major I'm gonna add Attract a midi tracks specifically and I'm gonna go ahead and just add a default analog sound gonna load that into Channel two Now that I've got analog selected, I'm getting it clear and along sound. Now, when I want to change the key signature here, I need to know what key name corresponds to my key signature. For example, if the key signatures three sharps, I just have to know that that is a major. There's no way within push toe actually specify specific sharps and flats for a specific key, but it does support every normal key. You use the scale button, you can select major or minor and then you can select c g d. So unserved worth e flat. You have all your choices right here. You select the key, then you exit scale. Now my analog instrument is set up to play notes from that key. I don't really have to know how many Sharps are in D major. There happen to be, too. But I don't really need to know that pushes taking care of all that for me just when I select D as my root and major as my scale.