How to compose melodies and chords with Ableton Push

Push is designed to make composing a breeze, even if your knowledge of music theory is limited. Here’s how to get going…

Press the Note button once you’ve loaded any instrument that isn’t a Drum Rack, and the 64 pads turn either white or blue: white pads are notes in the current scale, with the blue notes representing the root note at various octaves.

When in In Key mode, notes outside of the current scale don’t appear, so you can happily tap away on the pads to create musically-‘correct’ riffs and chords with no prior knowledge of music theory.

By default, playing the pads sequentially from left to right will ascend to the next note in the scale, while the next vertical pad up will play a 4th higher in the scale. This configuration, along with the current key and scale, can be changed via the Scale menu.

Step 1: Enter Note mode and the 8×8 grid becomes a melodic instrument on which you can play in MIDI notes and chords. In the default In Key mode, blue pads represent the root note in a given key, ascending in octaves from low to high, while white pads are notes in the current scale.

Chords in C Major scale

Step 2: Hit the Scale button to choose a key and scale. When In Key mode is active, Push’s pads filter out any notes that aren’t in the current key and scale. Switch to Chromatic mode to show all notes of the current key, with notes in the scale appearing brighter.

Chords in C Minor scale

Step 3: Pressing the Note button again will call up the melodic step sequencer. Use the upper row of pads to set clip and loop length, then tap sequencer steps to enter notes at a division set by the right column of Scene/Grid buttons. Light up steps vertically to create chords.

Step-sequenced baseline