Music Theory for Electronic Musicians
4.6 (854 ratings)
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Music Theory for Electronic Musicians

A class designed for the electronic musician that want to take their tracks to the next level.
4.6 (854 ratings)
Instead of using a simple lifetime average, Udemy calculates a course's star rating by considering a number of different factors such as the number of ratings, the age of ratings, and the likelihood of fraudulent ratings.
5,369 students enrolled
Created by Jason Allen
Last updated 1/2017
Current price: $25 Original price: $30 Discount: 17% off
30-Day Money-Back Guarantee
  • 3.5 hours on-demand video
  • 2 Articles
  • 1 Supplemental Resource
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
What Will I Learn?
  • By the end of this course, you will have improved your tracks by understanding how to build chords and melodies that work together.
View Curriculum
  • Access to a DAW: any program will do. (GarageBand, logic, pro tools, ardour, ableton live, etc.)

A class designed for the electronic musician that wants to take their tracks to the next level. In this class we will focus on learning how to organize pitches and rhythms to make dynamic and interesting melodies and harmonies. No experience with music theory is necessary. Playing an instrument and reading music is also not necessary. We will be focusing on how to use your DAW as your instrument to create with.

For years I've been teaching Ableton Live in the college classroom. As a University Professor, my classes are sought after, and, frankly, expensive. I believe Music Theory can be learned by anyone, and cost shouldn't be a barrier.

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!!!

And of course, once you sign up any part, you automatically get huge discounts to all the upcoming parts of this class. You will not have another opportunity to learn Music Theory in a more comprehensive way than this.

J. Anthony Allen is an Ableton Certified Trainer, and a PhD in Music Composition and master of Electronic Sounds. His music has been heard internationally in film, radio, video games, and industrial sound, as well as the concert hall and theater.

He currently as an adjunct professor of composition at the University of St. Thomas, Macphail Academy of Music, and the CEO of Slam Academy in Minneapolis.

Praise for other classes by J. Anthony Allen:

  • "I've had Live Lite for a while but never quite understood how to use it because of the different options in how to arrange audio. This course explains exactly how to do that and get the most out of Live."
  • "Great overview - I would start here for sure if you are just getting your feet wet with live. clear and to the point. session walkthroughs are great. looking forward to more"
  • "I have never had any formal training in music at all. Trying to learn all the notes and how everything translated was a serious challenge. After going thru this class, Dr. J has totally brought down the barriers. The content was very useful and was easy to grasp for me."
  • Who is the target audience?
    • Any level of musician
    • No experience reading notes required.
    Curriculum For This Course
    38 Lectures
    Class Overview
    1 Lecture 01:45
    An overview of what we will cover in this class. 
    Preview 01:45
    Understanding Music Theory from an Electronic Music perspective
    6 Lectures 38:11

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

    Preview 05:54

    Our first interval: The Octave.

    Preview 09:39

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

    Preview 05:51

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

    The Black Keys (not the band)

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

    Preview 05:47

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

    Section 1 Summary
    The Perfect 5th, and Being "In Key"
    5 Lectures 30:24

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

    Preview 05:44

    Finding the roots of triads, and building our basic triads.
    Finding Fifths

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

    Being "In Key"

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

    The Pattern of a Key

    A few examples of how fifths can work in context.

    Fifth Examples
    More With Keys, The Third, and The Basic Triad
    4 Lectures 26:38

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

    Preview 04:58

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

    The Major and Minor Third

    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.

    Building Triads

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

    Chord Progressions
    Diatonic Chord Progressions
    5 Lectures 34:56

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

    What is Diatonic?

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

    Finding All The Chords

    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.

    Roman Numerals

    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.

    Example Song Analysis No.1

    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
    5 Lectures 21:27

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

    7th Chords Overview

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

    Diatonic 7th Chords

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

    Maj7 (Major 7) Example

    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.

    Dominant 7th Chords

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

    Blues and the 7th Chord
    The Other Intervals
    4 Lectures 27:44

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

    The Fourth

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

    The Second

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

    The Sixth

    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.

    Song Analysis No. 2
    Wrap Up
    2 Lectures 03:03

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

    Wrap Up

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

    Preview 00:53
    Updates! Some answers to popular questions.
    6 Lectures 25:38

    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.

    Preview 07:40

    Question 2: Can the root note be inverted?

    Question 2: Inversions

    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 3: Changing Keys

    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?

    Preview 02:22

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

    Question 5: Using MuseScore

    There is so much more to learn!

    Bonus Lecture: Discount Offers & Mailing List
    About the Instructor
    Jason Allen
    4.6 Average rating
    6,188 Reviews
    35,990 Students
    62 Courses
    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.)