Congrats! You can play a few chords. But how do you actually use them? How do you get to a place where it’s as easy to use chords as it is to speak words? The answer might surprise you.
When we hear a chord in a song, we hear it in a web of chords. We connect it to other chords in the same song, and we connect those connections—the chord progressions—to thousands of other songs that we’ve heard. This is what gives the chord meaning for us, and every detail about the chord determines how it fits into this web.
Every listener has this web, but professionals have something else: they have an actionable understanding of it. They understand how to use chords to fit the emotions and styles of any given project. And when they hear a new song, they understand how the chords are used, and can easily recreate it. This is how they improve constantly—by learning from every song they hear.
I want you to get to that place, and I’ve made a course that will get you there. My secret weapon is a visualization that I call the Keyring. The Keyring does things that the music staff and the piano roll don’t do: it shows you how each chord is its own shape no matter what key or inversion it’s in. And it shows you in the simplest way possible how you can move from one shape to another.
Hi I’m Nate May. I’m a professional composer, pianist, and professor of theory and composition. I’ve taught students of all ages—I’ve seen them struggle and I’ve helped them succeed. I’ve found that their key to success is something so simple, yet so radical: they must love music. Surprisingly, so much music education is about convincing students that they need to learn things that don’t apply to the music they love. People who truly love music find the tools they need to grow that love into an art and craft, and they don’t get distracted by made-up rules and patronizing assignments. In 2021, I founded an online music school called Synthase in order to be able to teach music in a way that I believe creators of the world need right now. Chord Candy is the first course offered by Synthase.
So to help you learn to use chords, I’m going to give you the most powerful thing I can give you: an opportunity to understand and enjoy them at the same time. You need to understand not only what they do, but what you love about them. That’s why this course is packed with real music—over a hundred song excerpts that show you how each chord type can be used in R&B, soul, rock, pop, jazz, classical, and Latin music. No bad MIDI sounds, no confusing staff notation, just the Keyring, my hands, my voice, and the music. It’s more like candy than music theory, so I’m calling it Chord Candy. But don’t be fooled: this is for budding professionals with no time to waste.
Chord Candy starts with the most basic chords and then moves quite quickly from there, so it’s probably most comfortable for people who already have some experience playing at least a few chords and scales. There’s an introductory section that gives a quick overview of the terms that I use, but if you’re new to building major and minor scales in different keys and referring to chords by the number of their root (e.g. IV-V-I), you’ll want to take this course slowly or do some additional review on your own beforehand.
You’re in the right place! While reading music is a useful skill for some musicians, it’s entirely possible to become a sophistocated musician first, and then learn to read music later, or never. This course contains no notated music except in the PDF guide where it’s added purely for convenience.
I’ve geared it toward music creators—beatmakers, producers, songwriters, improvisers, composers, arrangers, etc.—but you don’t have to be an active or experienced music creator for the course to be effective.
No. It works on any instrument that plays chords, and I give several examples on guitar, although most of them are on a keyboard. Knowing the layout of the keyboard will help greatly in understanding the Keyring though.
Yes. I’ll be responding to questions and work submissions in the forums as often as I can. There may also be other educators available to help you as well.
Examples are provided in Spotify playlists, and you’ll be able to listen to 30-second previews without an account, but you’ll want an account for the full experience. Spotify accounts are free and available in a long list of countries as of April 13, 2021.
Yes! At the moment these captions are only available in English.
Yes! You’ll have access for at least 12 months, but likely much longer. The only reason I would take away your access after 12 months is if the course came down for some reason, but I would let you know in advance. This is essentially “lifetime access” but I want to make sure I can still follow through if you live longer than me 🙂
Yes! The course is fully functional through a browser on mobile, desktop, and tablets.
Please email email@example.com and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
If you’ve read these FAQ and it sounds good, I’m confident you’ll find this course valuable for you. But I also want you to feel comfortable purchasing and trying it out risk-free, so I’m offering you a full refund for 30 days from the time of purchase. Just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org letting us know why the course doesn’t meet your expectations, and we’ll process your refund as soon as we can.