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Music Theory Hacks in Ableton Live with Saytek

ableton music theory May 20, 2020

Saytek is back with another lesson for Mixmasters full of quality production tips. In this lesson, he looks at music theory hacks in Ableton Live.


A regular tutor for Mixmasters, his easy to understand teaching style breaks down complicated subjects so you can start implementing them as soon as possible. Which is perfect when it comes to music theory!


Here are some of his insights for hacking music theory in Ableton Live. 


Music Theory Hacks in Ableton Live: Producer Insights

  • You don’t have to follow music theory rules when making tracks, but you need to know the rules to break them. 
  • The Key Detect app or Mixed In Key Studio Edition can help you to find out a key.  
  • To find the pattern of notes in a major scale, put a note on every white note in a piano roll from C to C in one octave. For the minor scale do the same for the white notes from A to A. 
  • Once you have done the above you can find all of the notes in a major or minor scale by taking the inputted notes and transposing them up or down to your preferred key.
  • Once you have your notes in the right place if you fold your piano roll and move your loop brace, every note you play will be in key. 
  • You can use Ableton Live’s Chord and Scale midi effects to help you stay in key, but be aware that the chord plugin will only play fixed interval chords. 

Full Tutorial Description

  • Tools to help you find a key. 
  • How to find the notes in any scale.
  • Looking at modes.
  • Understanding and building basic chords. 
  • Creating functional harmonies. 
  • Using dominant and tonal chords to build and relieve tension and create a hypnotic sound. 
  • Midi effects in Ableton Live that can help you to stay in key.


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