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Timo Finkbeiner

FR: Chord track

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As I read in another post Noel wants feedback from us for a chord track and what features we would wish for it. So I open here a topic for this. I'll hope I will find the right words, because english is not my foreign language. Generally I would like to see a chord track like in Cubase or in S1 with the followin features:

- drag 'n' drop a chord or pad from the chord track onto a midi track and it will create a midi-part with the right notes (in S1 not possible at the moment)
- listen to a chord-pad / preview with a vsti
- send chords (midi-data) direct to an external instrument on a specific midi-channel (like in S1). In Cubase you have to route the chords to a midi-track and send those midi-data to the external instrument. Also possible, but one step more.
- togehther with ARA2, audio-data can be transformed with the chord track like in S1 (nice to have)
- midi-data must follow the chord track and are automatically transposed when a chord will change
- something like a chord assistant or a circle of fifths where you can see chords matching together and a drag 'n' drop feature from this assistant

Again, a chord track like in Cubase AND i AM HAPPY:

Edited by Timo Finkbeiner
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I used chord track in Cubase and StudioOne.
I never use stretching and that kind of stuff, to switch key on full project or anything.
Daw is just a holder or recorded clips, some plugins, and automation - for me.

Chords are just for visual presentation for guitar or keyboard as I am recording.
Projects evolve over many years for me - so kind of forget harmonies when coming back to a project and arrange a bit further.
And moving projects from StudioOne last I missed chords I had access to a lot.

So I used conversion of audio clips to chords as well as midi clips of course.
Sometimes do free playing and record and would be smooth to get chords up there.

I can also from this see good use for staff view - to select guitar chord diagrams for sheet music.
Almost automatic, or get a suggestion and you can browse and select another or get another inversion etc.

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Rather than post a long winded FR,  I thought I would just post a couple of video examples of using the chord track in Studio One 4 Pro. I'm not suggesting an exact copy of the PreSonus feature, but this is used to give an idea of the general function to shoot for. This feature would probably be most useful in the songwriting stage. If you are already working on recording and mixing your final song version, probably not so much.

In a nutshell, the main points to harmonically adjusting your entire song via chord track are:

1. A project chord track at the top, similar to an arranger track or a tempo track, but one  that can mark specific chord changes along the timeline.

2. The ability for the instrument and audio tracks follow the chord changes (follow chords enabled) by transposing  harmonically to match the chord track. You should be able to select which  tracks will follow, such as you wouldn't want your rhythm parts such MIDI drums to transpose.

 a. Instrument (or MIDI) tracks will be able to transpose directly to match the chord assigned in the chord track. Chord detection is a no-brainer here, as the note data    already exists in  MIDI tracks.

b. Audio tracks are probably a bit more challenging, dependent on ARA for accurate chord detection within audio, and pitch shifting them to match harmonically. There are probably reasonable limits to how much shifting would remain musical.

3. It is non-destructive. You can change the chord track at any time, and you can disable it and revert to your original version.

4. A chord selector to choose chords from (such as a circle of fifths).

5. Extract chords  to the chord track. Example: if you have already recorded a MIDI instrument part in your song with your original chords, those chords can be extracted to the chord track by selecting that track and extracting them. It's also possible to extract chords from audio, but possibly a bit more work.

This first video is a good overview of chord track:

 

This second video takes a bit of a deeper dive into working with audio in chord track:

 

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I was surprised that CbB wasn't working on a chord track while they were doing the arranger track.  I think something in the line of Studio One would be nice addition.  I don't have that much to add as I only touched on Studio One Chord track but I like it.  I still seem to get along better in CbB  so a Chord Track would be welcome.

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40 minutes ago, abacab said:

thought I would just post a couple of video examples of using the chord track

Thanks for these posts.  

I don't have hands on experience with Chord Track so it's good to hear from users who have other Daws that provide it.

I encourage others to keep posting.  Your enthusiasm will encourage the Cakewalk developers to put Chord Track into the future feature pipeline.

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21 minutes ago, Steve Harder said:

Your enthusiasm will encourage the Cakewalk developers to put Chord Track into the future feature pipeline.

I really think this would be a nice and useful addition to Cakewalk for songwriters that write on their computer.

I  am hopeful since the developers have already added the arranger track. So adjusting the song harmonically is the next logical step.

Moving forward! 👍

Edited by abacab

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I am familiar with chord tracks in hardware (e.g., sound modules) as implemented in what Roland called "Intelligent Arrangers" a few decades ago. I am not sure if the chord tracks in other DAWs have similar capabilities, but I can envision Cakewalk implementing them in such a way as to work together with and complement articulation maps, the arranger, and the inspector-based arpeggiator as well as 21st century functions (e.g., chord manipulation).

 

   

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1 hour ago, abacab said:

So adjusting the song harmonically is the next logical step.

Moving forward! 👍

Yep to seems to be.  I did a simple canon /round in Studio One to see how it works and it was so easy to do and experiment with. 

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Here is a good intro vid of Cubase Chord Track that will get you thinking.

Nico is Swiss. He uses a text to voice narrator. He has many excellent vids on youtube or his own site composingtips.com.  Check him out.  Some of the vids are Cubase specific but most are Daw neutral with a focus on orchestration techniques.

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I could see "all things chord track" being implemented incrementally in phases, as there are many facets to be considered, with some features I perceive to be easier to implement than others.

My perception of functions, in increasing order of implementation difficulty:

  • Tools to generate chords on the chord track: 
    •     chord selection/voicing tool 
    •     circle of fifths tool
    •     chord proximity tool
    •     chord suggestion tool
    •     MIDI keyboard input
    •     chord pads (with MIDI mapping for realtime triggering)
    •     existing MIDI track data
  • Tool to generate scales as part of the chord track
  • During editing, having option for MIDI notes to snap to the chords and/or scales on the chord track
  • During playback/recording, having the option for existing MIDI tracks to follow the defined chord track and/or scales (should note changes be made destructively or in real-time? - there are pros and cons to each)
  • During recording, transform in coming MIDI notes to snap to the chords and/or scales (never play a "wrong note")

(For the following audio related items, I'm assuming that Cakewalk ARA 2 support or the presence of some version of Melodyne could be parlayed)

  • Enhance ARA 2 support to enable bi-directional sharing of chord track data between Cakewalk and Melodyne
  • Extract MIDI from monophonic melodic audio
  • During editing, having option for monophonic audio notes to snap to the chords and/or scales on the chord track
  • During playback/recording, having the option for monophonic audio notes to follow the defined chord track and/or scales
  • Extract MIDI from polyphonic harmonic audio
  • Extract chords from polyphonic harmonic audio
  • During playback/recording, having the option for polyphonic audio notes to follow the defined chord track and/or scales
     

 

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Hi to all,

given that a different use of this function will probably be made depending on both the type of music that is being composed and the instrument with which the chord will be played, I would suggest that in any way the function is implemented, the maximum possibility of customizing the database of chords by the user (in any way that is technically possible) was always taken into account.

First of all doing so, even if there was no particular chord or inversion of it, each person could add it manually. That would be really important: maximum ability to add custom chords!

Sometimes, in fact, it's really necessary to make use of particular combinations. Example, add the bass note to the chord, many times even two bass notes at the same time. Or when working with strings section (or brass) it is very common to reverse the chords in a particular way, add a bass note, perhaps even repeating the chord twice with both hands, etc..
In short, sometimes "simple" chords are not enough and even during sketching, it will be very useful to have "ready" these particular combinations too. If there is a customization option, every user can add to the base chord category (let's assume Cm) every variation he would like to have ready to use (with bass, inversions, ten or more fingers :-))

Too many times I have been faced with small programs that were supposed to serve to simplify the process of inserting chords, but which in the end (for me) were not very useful precisely because of some limitations: one does not have inversions or has too few, lacks chords, lacks the possibility of adding the bass note (or notes) ... in short, something was always missing.
If you find a way to leave the option to add new custom chords into any combination (adding or remove/move the 3rd, 5th, a particular inversion, a low note, two, etc...), anyone can better customize the function for the use it needs to make of it.

Thank you all and I hope I have explained clearly what I meant.

Edited by Ronny.G
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13 minutes ago, Ronny.G said:

First of all doing so, even if there was no particular chord or inversion of it, each person could add it manually. That would be really important: maximum ability to add custom chords!

I think that is an excellent point!

I would even add the suggestion that a versatile chord selector be considered as a first step on the roadmap towards a fully fledged chord track!

Just having the ability to add chords from a selection tool to an instrument track would be indispensable.

Edited by abacab

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1. It should be in the visual style of the Arranger Track as mentioned above

2. Midi Input Menu should have " Chord Track follow" or " Force to Scale " as options

3. ARA-2 Melodyne Tracks  should have the option to follow chord track

 

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2 hours ago, abacab said:

Don't forget to rate the topic! (at the top)

I thought I was stupid because I couldn't how to rate this topic on my phone.  You must view the desktop site option in your browser.  👍

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On 11/14/2020 at 9:21 PM, pbognar said:

I could see "all things chord track" being implemented incrementally in phases, as there are many facets to be considered, with some features I perceive to be easier to implement than others.

My perception of functions, in increasing order of implementation difficulty:

  • Tools to generate chords on the chord track: 
    •     chord selection/voicing tool 
    •     circle of fifths tool
    •     chord proximity tool
    •     chord suggestion tool
    •     MIDI keyboard input
    •     chord pads (with MIDI mapping for realtime triggering)
    •     existing MIDI track data
  • Tool to generate scales as part of the chord track
  • During editing, having option for MIDI notes to snap to the chords and/or scales on the chord track
  • During playback/recording, having the option for existing MIDI tracks to follow the defined chord track and/or scales (should note changes be made destructively or in real-time? - there are pros and cons to each)
  • During recording, transform in coming MIDI notes to snap to the chords and/or scales (never play a "wrong note")

(For the following audio related items, I'm assuming that Cakewalk ARA 2 support or the presence of some version of Melodyne could be parlayed)

  • Enhance ARA 2 support to enable bi-directional sharing of chord track data between Cakewalk and Melodyne
  • Extract MIDI from monophonic melodic audio
  • During editing, having option for monophonic audio notes to snap to the chords and/or scales on the chord track
  • During playback/recording, having the option for monophonic audio notes to follow the defined chord track and/or scales
  • Extract MIDI from polyphonic harmonic audio
  • Extract chords from polyphonic harmonic audio
  • During playback/recording, having the option for polyphonic audio notes to follow the defined chord track and/or scales
     

 


Nice list! 

I would like to see implemented (partly overlapping with your list):

  • you give in the key (or play the bass note) in which you want to write a song. Then you play a chord (and as option for those who prefer to select chords instead of playing) and a chord track tool gives you a random and/or selectable list with suggestions for different (and more complex) voicings, like for example these "10 Best Neo Soul Chords"
  • you put in a chord progression and get other chord progressions as alternatives for that same part
  • you put in a chord progression and get other chord progressions as suggestion for a next part
  • the option to select the music style and have chords, progressions and timing/rhythm generated accordingly (e.g. like in Superior drummer and EZbass)
  • the option to select the instrument and have chords, progressions and timing/rhythm generated accordingly (e.g. a guitar voicings are not the same as piano voicings)
  • Most preferably the above implemented much more in-depth than common time with just 4 standard chords like you hear these days in most songs...(I long for the sixties and seventies with The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, The Beach Boys, Chicago, Pink Floyd, psychedelic and symphonic rock,...when music was real music😬🧐)

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17 hours ago, Teegarden said:
  • the option to select the music style and have chords, progressions and timing/rhythm generated accordingly (e.g. like in Superior drummer and EZbass)
  • the option to select the instrument and have chords, progressions and timing/rhythm generated accordingly (e.g. a guitar voicings are not the same as piano voicings)

I followed your comments regarding getting suggestions for alternate chord voicing and for chord progressions with interest. That would be very useful!

But I'm not sure that having styles, timing, and rhythm generated for you would be  a core feature of a chord track. That sounds a bit more along the lines of something like Band in a Box, and not a typical core DAW feature. Which although might be nice to have, in my opinion that's not really a necessity for Cakewalk.

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maybe something akin to a stripped down band-in-a-box where you can write out chords, customize the instrumentation with some specialized notation, and it can generate the necessary midi and controls to have either other midi tracks or auto-generated chords, etc without all the heinous complexity of the BIAB application... 🙂 

example you could set up your "stock" configuration - bass, drum, guitar, strings, horns, etc and using NN or common chord names, + plus some specialized bits Cm9 {b.d.g} which only plays the bass drums guitar on the Cm9 for that measure or until next chord, or some strum bars, or etc. or even tab and the related articulations...

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One of the things that has been bugging me about Chord Track discussions, is the existing chord events that have been there for decades in Cakewalk/SONAR (used in the staff / fred board view),  Meter/Keys, and the Marker pitch  (with respect to Groove clips).

So if you take an existing audio (or MIDI) clip and make it a groove clip, you can already use Pitch markers to transpose the clips in real-time at various points in the time-line.  For a lot of people, this might be all they want from chord track (but obviously looking more like arranger sections rather than markers!)

Obviously this is very simplistic compared to a full-blown chord track, but what I am interested in is everybody's expectations as to how integrated a new chord track should be with the existing features.

Do you think they should be completely separate to the chord track, or should they be aware of each other somehow?

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