Tags: posts polarity-music Bitwig Tutorial

Chords without Scales and the Bitwig Note Grid

Tutorial | Dec 07, 2023

In this video, I explain how to create harmonies using only note intervals or relations. By understanding the relationships between notes and intervals, you can easily build chord progressions and create different chord shapes. With the help of the pitch bus and voice stacking in the note grid, you can manipulate the chord progression and create variations.

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

As a music producer, I often encounter a screen that many producers dread: a blank note clip with a piano roll. In this video, I aim to explain how to create harmonious music in this seemingly daunting space. Here are the key points I cover:

My video aims to demystify the process of creating harmonies and chord progressions, showing that with a basic understanding of note relationships and intervals, anyone can create beautiful music.

Questions & Answers

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

What is the main focus of this video?

The main focus of this video is to explain how to create harmonies in a blank note clip with a piano roll in music production. The video emphasizes the relationships between notes and demonstrates how to build chord progressions using simple intervals.

How can you create harmonies in an empty space?

To create harmonies in an empty space, start by placing a single note anywhere on the piano roll. Then, use intervals such as seven semitones higher for a power chord or a perfect fifth, or use intervals like three or four semitones higher for a minor or major chord. By continuing to build on these intervals, harmonies can be created.

What techniques are highlighted to create chord progressions?

The video highlights two techniques for creating chord progressions: voice stacking and chord relationships. Voice stacking involves layering notes on top of each other, using intervals like fifths, to create chords. Chord relationships focus on the intervals between notes within a chord progression, such as major or minor thirds, to create harmonically pleasing progressions.

How can the note grid be used to create chord progressions?

Using the note grid, chord progressions can be created by setting up transpositions and offsets for each note in the progression. The note grid allows for precise control over the intervals and relationships between the notes in the progression, allowing for the creation of various chord shapes and progressions.


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.

[00:00:00] What you can see in the background is probably the most feared screen for all producers ever.
[00:00:06] It's a completely empty or blank note clip with a piano roll attached.
[00:00:12] And how do you create actually nice harmonies in this empty space?
[00:00:17] Well, you start with the note.
[00:00:19] We put down here just one note and I don't care for a scale or anything.
[00:00:24] I just put down one note anywhere.
[00:00:27] It's all about relationships between notes in this video.
[00:00:31] And I also want to explain later on how we can rebuild something like this inside of
[00:00:36] the note grid.
[00:00:37] But the voice stacking, of course.
[00:00:39] So but now we want to focus here on some notes so we get the idea what I'm actually
[00:00:43] doing later on.
[00:00:45] So here we have just one note.
[00:00:47] The second note goes exactly seven semitones higher.
[00:00:51] One, two, three, four, five, six, seven.
[00:00:54] It's a power chord now.
[00:00:58] And it's a perfect fifth relationship.
[00:01:01] So this is the root and this is the fifth.
[00:01:03] And these two are exactly seven semitones apart.
[00:01:07] The next note goes in the middle.
[00:01:09] And you can divide basically this distance between these in different ratios.
[00:01:15] So the best ratio is probably either a minor third, which is one, two, three, one, two,
[00:01:21] three, four, right?
[00:01:23] It's a minor chord now.
[00:01:27] So the distance between this and this is called a minor third and it's always, always three
[00:01:33] semitones.
[00:01:38] Then you can move this up here one.
[00:01:40] So now we have here four semitones, one, two, three, four, one, two, three, right?
[00:01:46] It's called a major chord.
[00:01:50] The distance between this and this, it's a major third.
[00:01:54] Okay.
[00:01:55] And with this alone, with this knowledge alone, you can do basically so many things because
[00:02:02] everything is like this.
[00:02:04] So we have four semitones here.
[00:02:07] We have three semitones here.
[00:02:09] The next note is maybe you can guess it exactly four semitones above this note.
[00:02:15] So one, two, three, four.
[00:02:20] So it's a major seventh chord.
[00:02:23] The interesting thing about this is not only that you alternate between three and four
[00:02:27] because we have four here, three, four, but also the distance between this one and this
[00:02:33] one is also seven semitones, which is basically a fifth.
[00:02:36] So it's kind of two power chords combined.
[00:02:45] And these two power chords are placed for semitones apart or a major third apart.
[00:02:53] Right?
[00:02:54] It's, it's all it is.
[00:02:56] It's nothing more, nothing less.
[00:03:00] So you can continue this until you hit notes that are not that harmonic that sound dissonant.
[00:03:08] And it's sometimes interesting because you want to have like dissonant chords for horror
[00:03:14] movies or whatever, but you can continue this.
[00:03:18] So we have four here, three, four.
[00:03:20] Next one is three, one, two, three, one, two, three, four, one, two, three.
[00:03:29] It sounds pretty jazzy, but I just want to show you that you basically continue this.
[00:03:38] So this is a fifth.
[00:03:40] This is a fifth.
[00:03:42] This is a fifth.
[00:03:43] So it's multiple power chords stacked on top of each other with a distance of four semitones.
[00:03:51] So this one here is basically a chord.
[00:03:56] This one.
[00:04:00] So these are basically the kind of fifths, more or less.
[00:04:03] So you can see how it's stacked together.
[00:04:07] But we don't want to use that many notes in the chord progression.
[00:04:10] Now I just stick here with four notes, which is kind of a major seventh.
[00:04:18] It also switches to a minor seventh.
[00:04:20] So bring this down.
[00:04:22] So here we have now three, four here and three here.
[00:04:29] So it's a major seventh or a minor seventh.
[00:04:39] You can also use a normal seventh chord, which is basically that you have a major chord here,
[00:04:45] and this one is diminished.
[00:04:47] So you bring this down.
[00:04:49] So we kind of delete or remove the nice harmonic relationship between these two.
[00:04:56] So here it's now one, two, three, four, five, six semitones.
[00:05:00] So it's not a fifth anymore.
[00:05:02] It's kind of a dissonant chord.
[00:05:05] Sounds like this.
[00:05:06] It's not that nice anymore.
[00:05:12] And usually you use these chords to make something resolve.
[00:05:16] So you want to create tension and you want to resolve it to a nice chord.
[00:05:23] So we can just use this chord here, duplicate this and bring this back.
[00:05:28] So the relationship here is really nice again.
[00:05:32] It's a fifth again.
[00:05:33] And then you bring this down seven semitones.
[00:05:35] One, two, three, four, five, six, seven.
[00:05:43] So it sounds kind of released.
[00:05:49] So tension and release.
[00:05:51] Okay.
[00:05:52] So this is how you kind of use this.
[00:05:56] But just as a side idea.
[00:05:58] So again, we only use seven semitone steps and maybe three or four semitone steps.
[00:06:04] So this is also how you can create chord relations, not only these chord shapes here.
[00:06:11] So you just duplicate this and say this major chord, or maybe let's go with the minor, minor
[00:06:20] seventh chord here.
[00:06:22] So the next chord we can just choose by going down maybe three semitones or a minor third.
[00:06:29] One, two, three.
[00:06:30] You can see these two notes align, these two notes align.
[00:06:33] So it should sound nice.
[00:06:37] Right.
[00:06:40] So you can say, I want to switch this here up one octave.
[00:06:44] So we can use shift and arrow keys.
[00:06:47] We'll bring this up.
[00:06:52] Right.
[00:06:53] You go somewhere.
[00:06:54] You can also say instead of three semitones, you can go four semitones.
[00:06:59] One, two, three, four.
[00:07:01] So now these two notes align, which is nice.
[00:07:04] Can bring this up.
[00:07:09] So usually when notes are close together, it usually sounds better than having here
[00:07:15] this gap, right, this hole in there and then a note down here.
[00:07:19] So I use this just to close the gap.
[00:07:26] We can also do things like instead of going down for, we can say this is a minor, minor
[00:07:33] seventh, and we switch this now back to a major seventh and then go down for one, two,
[00:07:39] three, four.
[00:07:40] Right.
[00:07:41] So now we switch not only the root note.
[00:07:43] We also switch the chord type from minor seven to major seven.
[00:07:48] And we bring this up here.
[00:07:54] It sounds different.
[00:07:55] It has a different feel, but it still works.
[00:07:59] So then we can maybe repeat this here.
[00:08:04] And here we maybe use a different inversion.
[00:08:09] Let's say this is the seventh here or the fifth of this.
[00:08:13] So we bring this down, you bring this up.
[00:08:16] Let's see how this sounds.
[00:08:24] So it's kind of repeating the same chord from here, but in a different inversion.
[00:08:29] So it sounds different.
[00:08:31] And all we have to do now is basically resolve to this one chord here with the different
[00:08:36] chords.
[00:08:37] We duplicate this chord here and go up seven semitones, one, two, three, four, five, six,
[00:08:44] seven.
[00:08:45] So if you go down in seven semitone steps, it's basically a nice cadence.
[00:08:51] And in functional harmony, it's usually this is the five chord and this is the one chord.
[00:08:56] But all you need to know is that if you take a chord and pull this chord down seven semitones
[00:09:03] to this chord, it sounds resolving.
[00:09:07] It's all you need to know.
[00:09:08] So you concentrate basically on the relationship between the chords or the intervals between
[00:09:15] the chords, right?
[00:09:17] So let's use this as a base note, maybe.
[00:09:22] Let's see.
[00:09:23] Bring this down.
[00:09:24] Let's see how this sounds.
[00:09:29] Okay.
[00:09:38] So this is maybe an interesting chord progression you like, but you can see you can diverge
[00:09:43] on certain points in different directions and use maybe four semitones, maybe three,
[00:09:49] maybe seven to create interesting shapes.
[00:09:52] You can also use two or something else.
[00:09:56] It doesn't matter.
[00:09:57] The important point is actually that you stick to some kind of intervals, to some kind of
[00:10:03] pattern that people can recognize.
[00:10:06] So here we have also a pattern in there.
[00:10:08] We have basically the root note, then we have here some kind of idea where we're going to
[00:10:12] somewhere.
[00:10:13] Here, we repeat the first idea, right?
[00:10:16] So there's repetition there.
[00:10:18] And then we have your cadence to resolve basically to the first chord.
[00:10:22] So what we can do now is we can create a base note, additional notes.
[00:10:29] We just duplicate here this bottom note.
[00:10:32] Go down exactly one octave.
[00:10:34] You can see it's G sharp here.
[00:10:35] It's E, D. It's basically the same note, just one octave lower.
[00:10:50] And all we did is basically switch between minor seventh and major seventh, which is basically
[00:10:55] just three here, four here, or three here and four here, right?
[00:11:00] And then switching between the chords between three semitones down or four semitones down
[00:11:07] on here, seven semitones up because seven down is a nice resolution.
[00:11:13] So you stick basically to the same numbers all the time for creating the chord types
[00:11:18] and creating the progression.
[00:11:20] You can also do funny things like in between chords, like from this chord to this chord,
[00:11:27] it's maybe too boring and you want to bring in a chord in between these two, right?
[00:11:32] So you do an easy trick.
[00:11:34] I just create the same chord again.
[00:11:38] Let me see.
[00:11:39] Let me bring this together.
[00:11:46] So this chord here is the same chord as this one, right?
[00:11:50] But you already know that when you pull this up seven semitones, it resolves pretty well.
[00:11:56] So we pull this up one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, and maybe bring these notes a bit
[00:12:03] closer together here, something like this.
[00:12:06] And it's maybe sounds a bit off from here to here, but then you resolve quickly to this.
[00:12:13] So it sounds like this now.
[00:12:20] Okay, you can do the same thing here also if you want to.
[00:12:27] So again, we don't care for any scale.
[00:12:32] I have no idea on which scale I am.
[00:12:35] All I'm caring for is the relationships or the ratios or the intervals between these
[00:12:40] notes and these chords between them.
[00:12:44] Maybe I use here one, two, three, four, five, six, seven up.
[00:12:51] Bring this down.
[00:12:52] Let's stick with this.
[00:12:53] It's a bit dissonance here.
[00:13:08] Maybe let's be a bit more fancy and do the same thing here again with seven, one, two,
[00:13:14] three, four, five, six, seven up.
[00:13:16] Bring the notes closer together.
[00:13:20] Let's see all the sounds.
[00:13:34] So this is basically the magic of sticking to these simple rules of intervals and you
[00:13:40] can create chord progressions this way.
[00:13:42] It's just one way of creating a chord progression.
[00:13:45] But if you are not sure in which scale you are and how scales are built, you can just
[00:13:51] stick to these simple rules and you can create nice chord progressions this way.
[00:13:56] And you can, you know, do these even longer.
[00:14:00] You can say something like this and then you switch certain notes around and see how it
[00:14:09] sounds.
[00:14:12] And maybe we don't go up here.
[00:14:16] Let's go to C.
[00:14:17] That's too high.
[00:14:18] Let's go to F here.
[00:14:20] Something like this.
[00:14:21] So you have a different chord progression.
[00:14:22] You have still the same chords as before, but the inversions are a bit different.
[00:14:28] Oh, wait a minute.
[00:14:40] I need to extend this here.
[00:14:49] And without any hassle, you can create chord progressions the easy way.
[00:15:09] So this is now needed to know for you because we want to create something in the note grid.
[00:15:16] So we have still the piano here and to use a note grid.
[00:15:22] And we have the piano here.
[00:15:24] And what we want to do now is to create multiple notes with the voice stacking here.
[00:15:29] So use a trans pose here, transpose and create multiple stacks, let's say three stacks, and
[00:15:40] we use a voice spread control here.
[00:15:45] And we choose here value.
[00:15:47] You can see value means zero times, one times, two times, up to 15 times.
[00:15:54] So we choose this and we can now modulate this here by exactly seven, which means the
[00:16:02] first note or the first stack plays a note that is the root note.
[00:16:07] Second one plays a note that is seven semitones higher, so a fifth.
[00:16:11] And then the third note is also again a fifth higher.
[00:16:16] So we have seven, seven, seven, seven, seven.
[00:16:18] Okay, it sounds like this.
[00:16:21] And if we pull up here, let's say a virtual keyboard, you can see how it looks like on
[00:16:27] the keyboard.
[00:16:34] So press this note here and then the note grid creates all the other notes.
[00:16:43] So this one is 12345671234567.
[00:16:50] Can create multiple stacks now.
[00:16:54] You can create more and more notes.
[00:17:10] And yeah, you can also create complete, let's say, scales from that because the scales are
[00:17:17] actually only all notes in a scale actually just a fifth apart, just in a different order,
[00:17:27] more or less.
[00:17:29] So it can create scales this way.
[00:17:31] So here when we press the note, you can see it's spread across the keyboard, so multiple
[00:17:36] octaves.
[00:17:37] But when we bring this down here to one scale, let's say with the wrapper, let's say use
[00:17:46] a wrap.
[00:17:49] Let's use a wrap here.
[00:17:50] Let's use a multiply to scale it up.
[00:17:54] And let's use the divide constant and use a constant of 10.
[00:18:06] Go in here and then use this as a thing.
[00:18:09] So we wrap basically everything around in the scale of C3 around C3.
[00:18:23] Actually I need to use a constant here.
[00:18:29] Can see everything is contained within one octave here.
[00:18:32] Now at C3 up to C4.
[00:18:35] So we have some kind of scale now at the moment here.
[00:18:38] And what we need to do is we need to pull this down by minus 28 semitones.
[00:18:42] And the question is probably why.
[00:18:45] So it's just multiple fifth down.
[00:18:49] I show you this in a minute, maybe on the circle of fifth.
[00:18:51] So minus seven next is minus 14.
[00:18:55] Right.
[00:18:56] Seven again is 21.
[00:18:58] The next is 28.
[00:19:00] And now I press D sharp.
[00:19:02] You can see we have now here all the keys of D sharp minor pentatonic.
[00:19:07] So D sharp, C sharp, F sharp.
[00:19:10] Right.
[00:19:11] If I press A, you can see we have all the white notes.
[00:19:15] So it's a minor.
[00:19:17] Probably need one note here seven.
[00:19:19] So it's diatonic.
[00:19:20] Diatonic means I think seven notes.
[00:19:23] So right.
[00:19:24] It's a minor.
[00:19:28] So it's basically just stacking fifth on top of each other to create a scale, a minor scale
[00:19:34] this way.
[00:19:35] We can also create major scale and all the other scales from that.
[00:19:39] It's just all the notes are usually just a fifth apart.
[00:19:43] That's all it does.
[00:19:45] So now that we can create a kind of these things, we pull this back here to zero.
[00:19:51] And instead of modulating this year by seven, we can also say, let's say three, right.
[00:19:58] And maybe not seven notes.
[00:19:59] Maybe maybe only was four or maybe modulate this by four.
[00:20:16] Maybe without a wrapper.
[00:20:25] Let's go back to three here.
[00:20:34] So you can try and create chord progressions or chords with that.
[00:20:38] You can also switch here to rhymes or golden.
[00:20:42] You can see on the left side, the voice levels here, which voice gets which value.
[00:20:49] So dependent on, I don't know why golden and primes is the same, but it's kind of
[00:20:55] roughly the same, probably.
[00:20:57] So you can see the relationship here and how then it bends out.
[00:21:01] So you can modulate this here maybe by 36, which are three octaves.
[00:21:06] You can create interesting chord shapes with this maybe.
[00:21:13] You can also do something like go back here to manual and modulate this again by seven.
[00:21:21] So we have now seven semi tones or fifth stacked on top of each other again.
[00:21:30] I need to switch to value.
[00:21:40] Sorry.
[00:21:42] Okay.
[00:21:45] This is nice.
[00:21:46] Then without wrapper.
[00:21:52] So nice.
[00:21:54] And then we pull this down maybe to two or three.
[00:21:58] We put this here away for a moment.
[00:22:01] I don't need it at the moment.
[00:22:04] We duplicate this here and do a second note output.
[00:22:07] We want to output two notes and both notes do the same transpose at the moment.
[00:22:14] But here we want to offset by three semi tones.
[00:22:17] So we basically do the same thing as before in the note clip here.
[00:22:22] We basically use this and this, right?
[00:22:26] And then we offset the second two notes by three semi tones like this.
[00:22:30] And then we create basically a minor seventh with this.
[00:22:35] That's what we do inside here of the note grid.
[00:22:40] So now it sounds like this.
[00:22:41] It's a nice minor seven.
[00:22:51] If you go up here to four, it's major.
[00:23:01] And then you can bring in the button and say this is the major button.
[00:23:08] It's actually called major.
[00:23:12] It's major.
[00:23:14] Sorry.
[00:23:16] Three and then modulate this by exactly one.
[00:23:20] Now we can switch between the two.
[00:23:26] Okay.
[00:23:32] And then you can do something like let's say change the root note of the chord with the
[00:23:39] pitch bus, pitch bus, constant and switch it around in seven semi tone steps and use
[00:23:51] an add.
[00:23:52] Add this to the root to input note here.
[00:23:56] And then we should actually have zero here.
[00:23:59] We have a D sharp minor minor.
[00:24:03] Yeah.
[00:24:04] Then seven, seven tones higher again.
[00:24:09] Again.
[00:24:10] So you can basically circle around the circle of fifth with the chords with this.
[00:24:16] But you get pretty fast out of range.
[00:24:19] So we need the wrapper again for this.
[00:24:21] Right.
[00:24:22] We get.
[00:24:23] So we take a wrapper here again.
[00:24:30] A wrapper, wrap, wrap, wrap.
[00:24:34] It goes in here.
[00:24:35] It goes there.
[00:24:36] You need of course a second one.
[00:24:39] It's there.
[00:24:40] So now we wrap everything back into an octave.
[00:24:43] We need only maybe two notes.
[00:24:47] Okay.
[00:24:50] So now we can use constant here again.
[00:25:03] Does it make sense?
[00:25:04] I hope so.
[00:25:05] We can also introduce a base note.
[00:25:07] So we use your another one.
[00:25:10] This one gets the top thing here.
[00:25:13] And this one is exactly two octaves lower.
[00:25:18] So we basically construct everything mathematically inside of the note grid instead of, you know,
[00:25:24] counting numbers inside of the piano roll.
[00:25:45] So every step up here sounds nice because you have basically a cadence all the time.
[00:25:56] But you can also like we did with the chord progression, step in thirds, right?
[00:26:01] Something like this.
[00:26:03] Also instead of three step in thirds.
[00:26:20] So also way of creating stuff.
[00:26:24] So let's stick to seven here and maybe major.
[00:26:28] Let's instead of the parallel major, let's use the relative major, which is basically
[00:26:35] always three semitones higher, right?
[00:26:42] Yeah, let's use a transpose here.
[00:26:48] Transpose and pull this up three semitones.
[00:26:54] Let's see all the sounds.
[00:26:56] So minor, relative minor.
[00:27:03] So we can create unlimited circle of fifth progressions with this.
[00:27:33] Set up here.
[00:27:35] You can also switch between seven and three, of course, here all the time to create some
[00:27:40] variety with that.
[00:27:42] So we can do something like using a step mod here and going down to four because we only
[00:27:49] want to have four or the progressions for chord progressions.
[00:27:57] So you have the constant, we want to use a value here.
[00:28:04] So we modulated the value with that.
[00:28:07] But because this range is only between zero and one and we need to your integers one,
[00:28:11] two, three, four, five and so on, we need to multiply this.
[00:28:17] And because we have here, you can see these lines, right?
[00:28:20] So first line, a second line, a third line, fourth line.
[00:28:24] So we go here up with four.
[00:28:28] So we know exactly where we are.
[00:28:29] So this is the first fifth, this is the second fifth and so on.
[00:28:34] So let's bring this here.
[00:28:38] So let's try it out.
[00:28:41] So let's go here, let's go there, let's go there and maybe five.
[00:29:03] So we go back here, maybe.
[00:29:06] Let's go there.
[00:29:11] Let's go forward, let's go up and down for a moment.
[00:29:16] And then we need to trigger this.
[00:29:24] So let's use triggers here for that.
[00:29:35] Does it work?
[00:29:36] Oh, no, it doesn't work.
[00:29:37] We need to trigger from the outside.
[00:29:38] Okay, I see.
[00:29:42] It's too fast.
[00:29:55] So we switch this here to bar.
[00:30:22] Okay, and then we use your second one, a second step mode and go to three steps and we switch
[00:30:28] to, let's say to major at different points because they loop differently, right?
[00:30:36] They sometimes this is a major then and this is a major and so on.
[00:30:41] So let's see what we saw.
[00:31:00] We can kind of create these chord ration devices that give you interesting chords at certain
[00:31:20] points.
[00:31:21] That's just a basic example, right?
[00:31:24] And I want to give you basically an idea how to approach this and how to think about this.
[00:31:30] So like I said, the number seven is magic.
[00:31:35] Three is nice.
[00:31:37] Four is nice.
[00:31:38] And you can basically build everything just from that.
[00:31:41] And inside of the grid here with the pitch bus and with the voice stacking, it's also,
[00:31:46] you know, nice to do.
[00:31:48] So that's it for this video, I think.
[00:31:52] If you have some questions about it, probably then let me know in the comments, leave a
[00:31:56] like if you liked the video, subscribe to the channel and I see you in the next video.
[00:32:01] Thanks for watching and bye.
[00:32:03] [MUSIC]