Tags: posts polarity-music Bitwig Chords Harmony-Theory

Creating Jazzy Chord Progressions in Bitwig Studio

Tutorial | Aug 23, 2022

In this video, I demonstrate a simple trick to create a modal chord progression in Bitwig Studio. By stacking major chords and using a multi-note, I'm able to create a jazzy, yet smooth chord progression that is not in a set scale. I then use a note wrap preset to create an auto-inversion effect, and use a pitch quantizer to ensure that the notes fit the chords. To add to the jazzy feel of the track, I use a polysynth with a channel filter to create a bass line, and an arpeggiator with note repeat for a more interesting melody.

You can watch the Video on Youtube - support me on Patreon

Questions & Answers

Maybe you dont watch the video, here are some important takeaways:

How do you create modal chord progressions?

Modal chord progressions can be created by stacking major chords and only using major chords in the progression. This can be done by taking a basic major chord and then cloning it and transposing it up by 7 semitones. This creates a dissonant and jazzy sound.

What is the note wrap preset?

The note wrap preset is a plugin that can be used to pitch down and pitch up notes that are outside of a certain octave. This allows the user to stay within the octave, creating an auto inversion tool. It also creates a bass note two octaves below the root note.

How do you create a generative patch with the note wrap preset?

To create a generative patch with the note wrap preset, you can disconnect the preset and route the output to a polysynth instrument. You can then use a quantizer, sample and hold quantizer, and a legato setting to create the patch. You can also use an arpeggiator or note repeats to make the note more interesting.


This is what im talking about in this video. The text is transcribed by AI, so it might not be perfect. If you find any mistakes, please let me know.
You can also click on the timestamps to jump to the right part of the video, which should be helpful.

[00:00.000] Hey folks! Welcome back to another video. Normally I do a lot of diatonic chord
[00:06.920] progressions in my songs and I still kind of like it but sometimes you want
[00:11.320] to go off the grid and want to use some kind of modal chord progressions and it's
[00:16.560] actually easier than you might think because you can just stack for instance
[00:24.560] major chords and use only major chords in your chord progression and you end up
[00:29.960] with the modal chord progression that that's not in a scale and I usually do
[00:34.320] this for some kind of liquid drum bass tunes where you need some kind of
[00:41.600] jazzy chord progressions that sound smooth and happy but at the same time
[00:49.680] a bit jazzy and dissonant so I usually go with this here for a multi note and
[00:56.960] just dial in major chord 0 4 and 7 and this is a super simple basic major
[01:07.760] chord with nothing on it and just take your Polys and just to have some kind
[01:13.400] of sound now also have my MIDI keyboard on you can see can hear it's basic
[01:19.880] chord right that's nothing nothing special maybe Eunice in a bit here
[01:37.920] and this already is is a modal chord progression because we only play major
[01:43.120] chords and when you play in a scale you have to switch between major chords and
[01:48.320] minor chords all the time at the right root notes but here we have all way
[01:53.400] always major chords so what I do mostly to get this jazzy feel to it I'm
[02:00.240] basically cloning this major chord here and stack it on top of this chord but
[02:06.560] seven semitones transposed so I'm using here another multi note and just take
[02:13.280] the same chord as here but several transposition and then I use seven here
[02:18.640] and basically stack the same chord seven semitones on top so this sounds like
[02:23.680] this and it sounds a bit more jazzy right because you have it's not really
[02:33.720] clear if it's a minor chord or major chord it's something in between it's not
[02:38.080] really decided on what it is because you have sometimes here major thirds in
[02:44.560] there and then plus seven here you have at some point also intervals of minor
[02:52.720] minor thirds in there so it's not really decided what it is and if you want to you
[02:58.720] can stick here diatonic transposer in between and just say maybe just correct
[03:05.840] this here to minor chords when it's needed or if you want to have it all
[03:10.160] completely diatonic then you have to put this here on the end but then you lose a
[03:13.960] lot of spiciness and it sounds too straight so I just keep removing this
[03:23.560] here and we only play with static chord shapes at the moment and what I usually
[03:30.640] then do is I use my rap preset that's available also in the description below
[03:37.480] I also made a video about this how this works and why it works but the short
[03:42.800] explanation is you basically pitch down pitch down and pitch up notes that are
[03:50.680] out of the current octave so at the moment everything between C3 and C4 is
[03:57.760] allowed with this wrapper but when a note goes above C4 like this it gets
[04:05.880] pitched down to C3 right so if you go to D form from for instance it's it got
[04:12.920] pitch pitch down to D3 and so on also if you go down here to a it's exactly
[04:19.600] pitched up one octifier so you always stay with all your notes within C3 and
[04:24.520] C4 with kind of which kind of leads to an auto inversion tool kind of and you
[04:32.760] also create here a bass note to octaves below and the root note is used for the
[04:39.640] bass so now it sounds like this so this is before and this is after
[04:46.680] so there are a lot of voices playing so I'm maybe pull this down or even use a
[04:55.000] peak limiter at the end just to make sure
[05:00.440] pull this down a bit
[05:05.920] now the thing is because we are playing so many notes a lot of notes are
[05:10.680] actually at the same position as the chord before so it always sounds like
[05:16.280] kind of a pleasing transitioning from one chord to the other and when I show
[05:21.680] you here what I play on the keyboard let's use here this one
[05:32.880] you can even use the black keys sometimes to get some more spiciness in
[05:37.520] there but all you have to do is to find combinations
[05:51.520] that's that sound good so yeah that's basically an easy trick for some nice
[06:00.280] liquid drum bass chord progressions maybe put in here small drum loop let's
[06:10.920] say maybe I find a liquid
[06:14.280] something like this one of the 72 look this and maybe record something here
[06:30.120] oh that's the wrong starting point I see
[07:30.120] so I think it's a nice chord progression and it's already a modal chord
[07:37.200] progression so it's not within a scale so the only hard time you have now is
[07:42.680] basically to play a melody on top of that because it's not in a scale you
[07:47.600] just can pick a scale and then play these notes and yeah improvise on top you
[07:55.640] have to make sure that you play the right notes over each of these chords here
[07:59.440] because you switch between different scales all the time so you can use the
[08:07.280] note grid for that of course there it is and then say I want to use a quantizer
[08:19.440] here at least that's that's what I do all the time use a quantizer here and
[08:26.600] then select the quantizer and use note input here and then select the chord
[08:30.840] track of course we want to use the note wrap output here and then you can use
[08:37.040] here a polysynth or whatever instrument you want to use maybe put a delay on it
[08:44.240] and then you can use a MIDI keyboard
[09:14.280] and if you press the wrong notes or the chord changes then the pitch quantizer
[09:18.800] drags the note with it right so you have if you basically hold the note here and
[09:24.680] then the chord changes and the chord doesn't allow this note then you create
[09:30.240] another note by the chord change so I'm just holding now here the note of D and
[09:34.960] see what happens here when the chord changes
[09:46.680] see I'm just holding D here so the sound sometimes a bit off so I usually also
[10:00.440] use a leg here after pitch quantizer to bring in some kind of yeah glide
[10:30.440] so yeah you have to you have to play a bit on the keyboard and find a sweet
[10:44.080] spot on how many notes you have to play and what kind of notes and sometimes you
[10:48.600] have to just record it and then I did it in the piano role to find you know the
[10:54.960] right position so you don't have to so you don't have all these glitches in
[11:00.240] there sometimes when the chords changes and you're not prepared for it in the
[11:04.880] melody so yeah so this is something you can do here with the note grid and I do
[11:09.960] this sometimes when I do liquid drum bass tunes or these kind of jazzy sounds
[11:15.240] it's not only for liquid drum bass but when you when you go for this jazzy
[11:19.680] sound and you have no idea how jazz works and you still want to have this kind
[11:24.600] of flavor in your tune then this is a nice workflow to start with so to get you
[11:30.840] basically started and you can also try to create inside the note grid maybe or in
[11:38.520] the Poly-Grid and yeah and generative patch basically and yeah correct us with
[11:52.920] the quantizer attenuate it's what we need
[12:00.360] with the sample and hold quantizer and you also you switch basically to use
[12:08.560] note input from your Poly send note wrap and then we need here sign
[12:16.920] mod it's also nice maybe trigger another one
[12:28.520] and let's trigger this
[12:48.320] where you put your also delay on it
[13:48.320] so yeah it's super easy actually to to create some kind of this flavor in
[14:07.400] Bittic studio just by using the multi notes here in serial mode using this
[14:14.760] note wrap and like I said this is a preset you can download for free
[14:18.200] I think I also made a video about this and how it works and how you can create
[14:23.080] it because it's a bit fairly complex another trick here is also that's not
[14:30.680] included in the in the wrap preset is that you can just disconnect this here
[14:35.960] and then you can say well the edit base which is this button here right where we
[14:41.920] add your base note can play this on channel number two note channel number
[14:48.840] two and then you can create here a bass sound like a polymer for instance
[14:55.960] polymer and you can receive the note from the first track after the note wrap
[15:03.280] here and then use a channel filter say we only want to play the bass with this
[15:09.360] instrument here maybe put this here to monophonic mode
[15:22.400] then you can maybe use an arpeggiator if you want to or note repeats to make
[15:40.560] this note a bit more interesting so we have like here maybe switch this to that
[15:47.800] so we can hear the text that's too fast of course so maybe you switch this here
[16:03.600] to Euclid mode and I always like to rotate here there's a bit so not the
[16:14.120] first notice not on the one right so we have a bit of offsets yeah activate the
[16:24.920] gate so the note is longer
[16:54.080] this is something like this
[17:24.080] something like this so I want to show you just your basically a trick how you
[17:49.000] get this jazzy feel into your tracks and how you can use the moody note for
[17:54.040] that without using a diatonic transposer creating some kind of modal chord
[17:58.440] progression using the note wrap here to make it smooth to make smooth chord
[18:03.720] progressions then using here the pitch quantizer to create some kind of melody
[18:11.560] on top while still maintaining to grant chord scale and then also using this
[18:20.080] here for kind of a generative patch and using polymer to just grab the base note
[18:26.240] of the note wrap here so smaller the workflow just for the jazzy flavor
[18:33.200] inside the studio so that's it for this video thanks for watching guys hope you
[18:38.280] learned something new leave a like if you liked the video leave a comment if
[18:41.680] you have some questions thanks for watching I'll see you in the next video
[18:44.760] bye