Music Foundations Tutorial Pt. 2: How to Transcribe Chords w/ Max Wild

In part two of this three-part Music Foundations video tutorial series, Dubspot Instructor Max Wild explains how to transcribe the harmony of a song and create chord progressions in Ableton Live.

In part one of this Music Foundations video tutorial series, Max introduced a method in Ableton Live to extract melodic content from an acapella vocal sample. In this second installment, Max Wild demonstrates how to transcribe the chords that make up the harmonic progressions of a song. Just to review, a melody usually consists of single notes played in succession to make up a strong, recognizable shape using pitch and rhythm. Chords on the other hand consist of two or more notes played at once used to support the melody.

The methods Max introduces to transcribe chords is made up of two steps: Identifying the bass notes, and determining if the chords are major or minor. To help focus on the low frequencies of the bass, Max uses a low-pass filter to hear the bass notes in a chord progression. After filtering the bass frequencies, Max demonstrates how he sings along with the harmonic progression so he can determine the pitches and play them on a keyboard. In this example, he hears four bass notes being played for a duration of four beats (one bar) that repeat every four bars. Since the bass notes are more often than not the lowest note (root) of each triad, Max can determine if each triad is major or minor. This method can then be tested by playing both the major and minor triads along with the recording to hear which sounds better.

“Don’t forget, this method can be applied to any song and any chord-progression. Once you are able to transcribe both melody and harmony (chord-progressions) you can do lots of cool things, such as composing a new chord progression to go with an existing melody (re-harmonization) or composing a new melody over a pre-existing chord-progression, both great tools for creating remixing, as just one example. I hope you find this tutorial useful, enjoy!” – Max Wild


Music Foundations Tutorial Pt. 1: How to Transcribe Acapellas

Music Foundations Tutorial Pt. 3: Reharmonizing Chord Progressions


EDU Summer Sessions

Music Foundations Program

Unravel electronic music’s origins, build your chops, learn musical language and theory, and make and play music the way you want. Students will develop a deeper understanding of the roots and lineage of a variety of electronic and dance music genres, strengthen their keyboard skills, and learn valuable music theory, deepening their creative practice and facilitating effective collaborations with musical partners.

About This Program

The best producers, DJs, and musicians in the world strive to be well-rounded. So should you. In Dubspot’s Music Foundations Program, you’ll explore three major aspects of music: rhythmic theory, melodic theory, and critical listening.

Most pioneering early electronic musicians had years of conservatory training in theory and performance but had access to very limited technologies. In today’s musical world, it’s the opposite: we have a powerful and versatile array of electronic music making tools at our fingertips, but often fall short in our theoretical understanding of how electronic music works.

Our Music Foundations program is designed to fill this gap and provide training in fundamental skills and concepts with the electronic musician, DJ, and producer in mind. In this course, you’ll build your chops and learn the basics of musical language and theory so that you can make and play the music you want. You will also develop a deeper understanding of the roots and lineage of a variety of electronic and dance music genres, and explore compositional techniques and song structure. The weekly homework lessons for all three courses have been designed using Ableton Live, and along the way you’ll also learn the basics of Ableton and how to use it as a powerful tool to improve your musicianship in a variety of ways.

What’s Included

  • Music Foundations Level 1: Pads & Rhythmic Theory
  • Music Foundations Level 2: Keys & Melodic Theory
  • Music Foundations Level 3: Critical Listening

Additional Information

Visit the Music Foundations course page for detailed information on this program here.

If you have questions, please call 877.DUBSPOT or send us a message.

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