Music Theory for Electronic Musicians 2: Minor keys and More

Featuring tracks by Avicii, Aphex Twin, Deadmau5, Skrillex, Daft Punk, Boards of Canada, and more!
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  • Lectures 30
  • Length 5.5 hours
  • Skill Level Intermediate Level
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
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    Available on iOS and Android
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About This Course

Published 3/2014 English

Course Description

This course is an extension of Music Theory for Electronic Musicians, in which we learned how to work with the piano roll editor in a DAW to make harmonies, melodies, and whole tracks. In this class we expand on those ideas and work with minor keys, focus some time on melody writing and bassline writing, and talk about how different tracks work.

Extensive Analysis
The most important part of this class is an extensive analysis of tracks by Daft Punk, Avicii, Skrillex, and many more. In each of these analysis segments, we look at their tracks on the piano roll editor, and talk about why they sound the way they do, and how you can use similar techniques in your own music. Each of these segments picks apart multiple elements of the song and dissects it in an easy to understand way.

Who should take this course?
Anyone interested in producing their own tracks. 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.

What are the requirements?

  • Although Ableton Live is used in the class, students do not need to be Live users. But they should have access to some kind of audio program with MIDI sequencing. Garageband, Logic, or several free pieces of software all work great.
  • No MIDI instruments are required.

What am I going to get from this course?

  • 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

Who is the target audience?

  • This course is ideal for music theory beginners, as well as student with some background in music theory.
  • Anyone who produces music, or aspires to produce music, should take the course.

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


Section 1: Welcome & Overview

Welcome! In this first video we talk about what we will cover in this class, and how we will cover it.

Section 2: Analysis: Shame On Me (Avicii)

Our first analysis - in this lesson we examine the track Shame on Me by Avicii, We find the chord progression, figure out why it sounds the way it does, and how it works.

Section 3: Minor Scales & Keys

Minor scales! What separates major scales from minor scales? What are the patterns in a minor scale?


Every minor key has a relative major key, and every major key a relative minor. In this lesson, we talk about how to find the relatives, and how to use them.


Our old friend the diatonic chord progression that we learned in Music Theory for Electronic Musicians I in the major key. Now, we learn it again for the minor key.


The minor scale (and key) isn't as simple as the major. It has a few variations, and we look at them in this lesson.

Section 4: Analysis: Ghosts N Stuff (Deadmau5)

In this lesson we examine the track Some Chords by Deadmau5, We find the chord progression, figure out why it sounds the way it does, and how it works.

Section 5: The Circle of Fifths

What is the circle of fifths, why is it important, and how can we use it in our tracks?


Now that you have a command over the circle of fifths, we can use it as a creative tool to find new and different chords for our tracks.

Section 6: Analysis: Get Lucky (Daft Punk)

In this lesson we examine the track Get Lucky by Daft Punk, We find the chord progression, figure out why it sounds the way it does, and how it works.

Section 7: A Few More Chord Extensions

We looked at 7th chords in the previous class, and here there are again applied to minor keys.


Moving beyond 7th chords, we can add more extensions - 9ths and 13ths. See how these sound and can be useful to us.


Adding the 2nd and 4th into our chords for a "suspended" sound.


Why not a little Michael Jackson? Lets try reading a chord chart, you will be surprised at what you already know how to do.


Found a chord without a good name? Call it a cluster chord.

Section 8: Analysis: Everything You Do is a Balloon (Boards of Canada)

In this lesson we examine the track Everything you Do is a Balloon by Boards of Canada, We find the chord progression, figure out why it sounds the way it does, and how it works.

Section 9: Melody Writing

How can we find a melody that fits with a chord progression? Some techniques and strategies for finding a melody in this lesson.


How about finding the chords to fit with a melody we have? Techniques and tricks for finding the right chords in this lesson.


We now have a chord progression and a melody. In this lesson we look at adding another layer - a countermelody - to the mix.

Section 10: Analysis: Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites (Skrillex)

In this lesson we examine the track Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites by Skrillex, We find the chord progression, figure out why it sounds the way it does, and how it works.

Section 11: Bass Lines

How do we find a bass line that works with a chord progression?


If we have a bass riff, how can we find chords that work together with it? A few tricks in this lesson.


A word of caution for creating bass lines.

Section 12: Analysis: Windowlicker (Aphex Twin)

In this lesson we examine the track Windowlicker by Aphex Twin, We find the chord progression, figure out why it sounds the way it does, and how it works.

Section 13: Chromaticism

Getting outside of the box with your chords. Way outside of the box.

Section 14: Thanks and Goodbye! (for now)

Thanks for hanging out! A few final words. Give me a good review if you enjoyed the class!


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


There is so much more to learn!


Here is another way to look at diatonic chord progressions in minor. This example is from my Music Theory Comprehensive class - so its using notes, but I think it will still be useful to you. Have a look.


By request: Here is an analysis of Aurora by JJD.

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Instructor Biography

Jason Allen, Ph.D / Ableton Certified Trainer

J. Anthony Allen has worn the hats of composer, producer, songwriter, engineer, sound designer, DJ, remix artist, multi-media artist, performer, inventor, and entrepreneur. Allen is a versatile creator whose diverse project experience ranges from works written for the Minnesota Orchestra to pieces developed for film, TV, and radio. An innovator in the field of electronic performance, Allen performs on a set of “glove” controllers, which he has designed, built, and programmed by himself. When he’s not working as a solo artist, Allen is a serial collaborator. His primary collaborative vehicle is the group Ballet Mech, for which Allen is one of three producers.

J. Anthony Allen teaches at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN., and is an Ableton Live Certified Trainer. He is a co-founder and owner of Slam Academy, a multimedia educational space in downtown Minneapolis. Recently, Allen founded Hackademica – an innovative net-label for new music.

J. has a PhD in music composition, 2 Master’s degrees in music composition and electronic music, and a bachelors degree in guitar performance. Through his academic travels, Dr. Allen has received numerous awards along the way.

If you run into him on the street, he prefers to be addressed as J. (as in, Jay.)

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