The Ultimate Guide to Using the Ableton Chord Plugin

Are you ready to take your music production skills to the next level? Look no further than the Ableton Chord Plugin. This incredibly powerful MIDI effect can automatically generate complex chords from a single note, revolutionizing your compositions. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the ins and outs of using this plugin effectively.

Getting Started with the Ableton Chord Plugin

To harness the full potential of the Chord Plugin, it’s essential to pair it with the Scale Plugin. Start by dropping a Scale effect before your desired synth instrument. This combination will lay the foundation for creating harmonically rich and melodic sounds.

Setting up the Chord Plugin

To add the Chord Plugin, simply place it to the left of the Scale effect (remember, if you place it on the right, the chords will be out-of-key). Now, let’s dive into the settings. The “Shift” knobs are the key to configuring the notes in your chords. Each knob represents a specific step in the musical scale. For example, if the first Shift knob is set to “+3,” and you play an E on your keyboard, the Chord Plugin will add a G to the output sound, creating a harmonious chord.

For minor chords, adjust the first Shift knob to “+3” and the second Shift knob to “+7.” Experiment with different combinations to discover the perfect chord progression for your composition.

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Fine-tuning the Chord Velocity

Underneath the Shift knobs, you’ll find numbers that control the velocities of the notes in the chord. By adjusting the velocity, you can add depth and nuance to your chords. Increase the velocity on the first knob slightly to highlight the middle note in the chord, and lower the velocity on the second knob to achieve the desired balance.

Transposing and Playing Different Chords

Now it’s time to play and explore the chords you’ve created. If a chord sounds too high-pitched, you can bring it down by setting the “Transpose” control on the Scale Plugin to -12. This adjustment will give you a broader tonal range to work with.

To play different types of chords on the same track, utilize a MIDI Effect Rack. Right-click on the Chord Plugin and select “Group” to add it to a MIDI rack. You can then create copies of the Chord Plugin within the rack by pressing “Ctrl+D” twice.

Diving Deeper: Advanced Techniques

To harness the full potential of the Ableton Chord Plugin, let’s explore some advanced techniques.

Creating Macros for Chord Selection

As you start working with multiple chord options, it’s essential to have seamless control over chord selection. By dividing the chords into zones and using a Macro knob, you can easily switch between them. Open the Chain Selector section in the rack and set up the zones. Assign the blue boxes to each chord, specifying the range to activate a particular chord. For example, values 1-8 could trigger a minor chord, 9-16 a minor 7th, and 17-24 a minor 9th chord.

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Right-click on the numbers along the top of the rows and select “Map to Macro 1.” This will connect the Chain Selector to the first macro knob, enabling you to effortlessly switch between different chord progressions by adjusting the knob.

Exploring Different Keys

If you want to switch to a major key, you’ll need to create nested MIDI racks. Start by selecting the Chord Plugins, right-clicking them, and selecting “Group.” This action will create a new MIDI rack within the existing one, which we’ll refer to as the “minor rack.” Add an E Minor Scale Plugin to the minor rack. By mapping the Chain Selector on the minor rack to the first macro knob, you can conveniently control chord selection.

Within the outer rack, you can now drop three Chord Plugins and set them to create major chords (+4, +7), major 7th chords (+4, +7, and +11), and major 9th chords (+4, +7, +11, and +14). Group these major chord plugins into a separate rack and add an E major Scale Plugin.

Open the Chain Selector in the major rack, assign the appropriate chord ranges, and map the Chain Selector to Macro 1. Finally, set the Chain Selector in the outer rack to switch between the minor and major racks, allowing you to effortlessly switch between minor and major chord progressions.


Unleash your creative potential with the Ableton Chord Plugin. By effortlessly generating complex chords, this powerful tool will take your musical compositions to new heights. Experiment with different chord progressions, explore various keys, and let your creativity soar. Remember to visit ProgramMatek for more information and to discover how this plugin can enhance your music production journey.

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