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Ableton Live Chord MIDI Effect Cheat Sheet

Chord MIDI Effect

Live’s Chord MIDI effect is a powerful tool. It lets you play one note and create full chords. The built-in presets are great but don’t cover the full spectrum of basic chords. Download the cheat sheet at the bottom of the page to help you build any type of basic chord with ease, Without knowing any Music Theory. But if we already mentioned Theory, Lets talk about it for a second.


The Chord MIDI effect have 6 knobs. Each knob can add more notes on top of the note you are playing on your MIDI or Computer Keyboard. The knob values are “st” which stands for Semi-Tones.

Semi-Tones are the way we count the distances between two notes. The Distances are called Intervals.

We give each type of interval a name. For example:

The distance between the C note and the C# note is 1 Semi-Tone and that interval is called Minor 2nd.

So that means that the interval between G and G# is a Minor 2nd and the distance between F and Gb is a Minor 2nd and the distance between E and F is a Minor 2nd and so on.


Here is a List of all the Intervals in one Octave (Which is actually also a name of an Interval):

*Remember that “st” stands for Semi-Tones

  • Unison – 0st
  • Minor2nd – 1st
  • Major 2nd – 2st
  • Minor 3rd – 3st
  • Major 3rd – 4st
  • Fourth – 5st
  • Tritone – 6st
  • Fifth – 7st
  • Minor 6th – 8st
  • Major 6th – 9st
  • Minor 7th – 10st
  • Major 7th – 11st
  • Octave – 12st

Check out this list of examples for the intervals in famous melodies.


Now lets take a look at a few Chord Formulas:

  • Major: Root Note, Major 3rd, Fifth
  • Minor: Root Note, Minor 3rd, Fifth
  • Diminished: Root Note, Minor 3rd, Tritone

Ok now what? Now using the Interval list and this three chord formulas we can play Major, Minor or Diminished chord on any key.

For example: If we start from the C note. That’s going to be our root note. And lets say we want to play the C Major chord:

  • The root note is C
  • The Major 3rd is 4 Semi-Tones above C so we will end up on E
  • The Fifth is 7 Semi-Tones Above C so we will end up on Gplay C Major we play the C, E and G notes.

You can repeat this for any type of chord on any key.


But what if we don’t care about Music Theory and just want some chords to play around with? We can use the Chord Effect!

If we want to play all the Major Chords we can set up the first knob to 4st (Major 3rd) and the second knob to 7st (Fifth).

Now every single note I’ll play will be the Root Note of that Major chord.

Check out the Free Download for a Cheat Sheet showing you how to set up the Chord Effect for all types of basic chords.

Bonus Tip: While focusing on one of the knobs of the Chord Effect, Hold Shift and hit the up or down arrow keys to jump the value up or down by an octave. This will give you a different Inversion of the chord.

And remember, If you like a chord save it as a preset!

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