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Timo Finkbeiner

FR: Chord track

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4 hours ago, msmcleod said:

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?

I would encourage avoiding a simplistic approach. The essential idea of a chord track is that it is global to the project, and all tracks are capable of being aware and following it (follow on/off). So you can re-harmonize the entire project just by a simple tweak to the chords and progression in the chord track. Another benefit to the chord track is that it provides clear chord markers.

Studio One is a proven commercial success. I think the bakers should follow that example of chord track, with a Cakewalk spin, of course!

Edited by abacab
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And I actually almost picked up Cubase Elements a few years ago for their chord track. That was v9 at the time. It's been a while so I'm not sure how Cubase and Studio One now compare in that regard, but personally don't recall the Cubase details. Cubase was probably the  one of first, if not the first, to offer the feature.

I own Studio One Pro now as a result of a crossgrade deal that I took advantage of back when Gibson/Cakewalk shutdown. Studio One added chord track to v4, and I'm assuming PreSonus borrowed some ideas from Cubase (as well as some developers).

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Chord tracks were introduced in Cubase 7 (2012), six years before Studio One 4.0 was released with a similar function (2018). So Cubase was clearly leading the way. However, I have no idea how Cubase now stack up against Studio One in that respect.

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1 hour ago, msmcleod said:

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?

Thanks for popping in Mark.

The chords and symbols in the staff view are for display only with no effect on MIDI and are not visible in other views.

Pitch markers are cool, but they only work on the root note of a loop, so they don't affect individual notes in chords, e.g. major to minor chords, etc.  But they could be seen as a place holder for where chord track logic / display could go, but as you say, look more like the arranger.

The Cakewalk snap to scale track function leads me to believe that the logic to move MIDI notes around based on a parameter (scale or chord) exists and together with the pitch marker logic, could be used as the basis for a global chord track for MIDI.  There are also the chord analyzer and transpose MFX.

The chord track related functionality can be broken up into chord creation, display, detection from MIDI, affecting MIDI, detection from audio and affecting audio.  There are tools, like Scaler, which can do the heavy lifting of generating MIDI chords - but Cakewalk would need a way to import the results into the chord track (MIDI capture is already present).  Likewise, Melodyne with ARA 2, can analyze audio and generate a chord track, which could also be imported into a chord track (although working with polyphonic audio comes at a hefty price).

I don't want to speak for everyone, but I look at the chord track primarily as a song writing tool, providing a way to prototype compositions and ideally affect song affect song playback.  The current capabilities Cubase would be a great start, with the chord track affecting MIDI and monophonic audio.  Maybe ARA 2 / Melodyne Essential (or Editor if present) can be leveraged.

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2 hours ago, abacab said:

And I actually almost picked up Cubase Elements a few years ago for their chord track.

I played around with Cubase Elements when it was available to evaluate for free in the spring.  You could do a lot worse for prototyping a composition with MIDI.  As far as chord track features compared to the PRO version, the only thing missing is the chord assistant proximity function - for the price it's pretty cool.

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1 hour ago, Canopus said:

Chord tracks were introduced in Cubase 7 (2012), six years before Studio One 4.0 was released with a similar function (2018). So Cubase was clearly leading the way. However, I have no idea how Cubase now stack up against Studio One in that respect.

Cubase was the pioneer for chord track tools within a DAW.  The differences between Cubase and Studio One:

  • Cubase seems to be more musical when it comes to different ways of creating the chord track, with chord pads and a chord assistant.
  • Cubase's affect of chord track on MIDI data is destructive, whereas Studio One, it is not.
  • Studio One's chord track affects polyphonic audio playback!  It can also extract chords from polyphonic audio.
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3 hours ago, Mark Morgon-Shaw said:

I would like to be able to drag and drop any midi track I have created into the chord track. 

You can do this easily in Studio One by dragging and dropping any MIDI track in the song to the chord track, or by selecting any MIDI track in the song, then in the right-click context menu, select instrument part > extract to chord track.

Edited by abacab
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5 hours ago, abacab said:

I would encourage avoiding a simplistic approach. The essential idea of a chord track is that it is global to the project, and all tracks are capable of being aware and following it (follow on/off). So you can re-harmonize the entire project just by a simple tweak to the chords and progression in the chord track. Another benefit to the chord track is that it provides clear chord markers.

Studio One is a proven commercial success. I think the bakers should follow that example of chord track, with a Cakewalk spin, of course!

I think they might want to attack this feature add in stages.  Going off the deepend right off the bat with The chord markers (easy update), Chord Creation with midi patterns (easy update), global changes across all midi tracks (fairly easy), Read midi notes played to extract and dispay a chord (not all that difficult), Read Audio tracks to extract chords (ala Coda)...basically a product in itself to do it well, global changes across audio and midi (some sort of Voodoo only Studio One has tackled from what I gather) all combined in one update would be a long term project we would have to wait a long time for.

Even changing a note only on the midi side isnt' super simple as it has to figure in the voicings you migth be using on different tracks, otherwise you end up with chord vociings jumping around in ways you didn't intend.  Not rocket science, but above the easy pick the chord and voicing on a single track type of update.  

I'm glad to hear they are giving some thought to this feature.  I've said for years this is what Cakewalk needs to help beginners make music, and give more advanced users   and easy way to get ideas down and compose.

 

Scaler 2 is one of the benchmarks I'd look at in this area.  Get functionality like that to integrate into the interface (so you see a nice big chord change view through out the track) and have it work across tracks without bogging down the system with instances and you have next level tool sets.  

Yes, the wave form audio manipulation would be wonderful, but realistically that is going to be a long way down the road map to do it really well.  And I think the proper thing to do would be stages of development that can be released over time.  

Edited by Brian Walton
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9 hours ago, Brian Walton said:

 Read Audio tracks to extract chords (ala Coda)...basically a product in itself to do it well,

Do you mean deCoda is developed by Zplane  ?  It's a very good tool.

9 hours ago, Brian Walton said:

Yes, the wave form audio manipulation would be wonderful, but realistically that is going to be a long way down the road map to do it really well.  And I think the proper thing to do would be stages of development that can be released over time.  

I think they have a solid foundation for this already with Melodyne and ARA 2 so there is no need to re-invent the wheel here. 

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3 hours ago, Mark Morgon-Shaw said:

Do you mean deCoda is developed by Zplane  ?  It's a very good tool.

I think they have a solid foundation for this already with Melodyne and ARA 2 so there is no need to re-invent the wheel here. 

Yes, zplane's decoda.  

I'm aware of the ARA2 and Melodyne, but as evidenced by the fact you have to actually own Melodyne to get features like the drag audio to create tempo map or drag audio to create midi (which doesn't work all that well), means Cakewalk is fully dependent on the end user buying Melodyne to do it.  

While I have v4studio, I spent hundreds of dollars to get it.  And have 5elements which annoyingly can't co exist.

However, I'd imagine the majority of users of a free DAW likely don't want the investment in that piece of software.  I know I basically never use it and actually bought it for the "Cakewalk" added functionally I described which frankly have not worked at the level I expected them to for software that's retails for something like $700.

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So... you had me at chord track.  :) This is an incredibly interesting discussion and possible future feature. I can’t add much (anything really!)  to the tech discussion on what/what isn’t a heavy programming lift. I have some music theory knowledge and so use EZ Keys, for example, to compose songs using the program’s provided Circle of Fifths, general chord construction (inversions etc), and coloration (7ths, 9ths,13ths, etc).  In effect, having a player play things beyond my performance capabilities on a piano. 
 

I’ve watched some of the linked Studio One and Cubase vids, and a good deal of thought has gone into their implementations and look super useful in terms of composing. Just starting with the basic chord/melody construction capabilities would be great. One thing for sure is the ability to have tracks follow/not follow the Chord Track, which would create a train wreck for MIDI programmed drums. 
 

Thanks Bakers for continuing the great work! The arranger track is fantastic! Sure, there may be future tweaks, but if you can replicate that type of functionality in the Chord Track, that would be so great. Keep a Chord Track alive!

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Rather than looking at the kitchen sink of chord track like features or what other DAW's do, I'm actually more interested in how you use a feature like this or if you haven't tried it what it would do to improve your workflow with music production.

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25 minutes ago, Noel Borthwick said:

Rather than looking at the kitchen sink of chord track like features or what other DAW's do, I'm actually more interested in how you use a feature like this or if you haven't tried it what it would do to improve your workflow with music production.

Preface, I do not have any formal education in music theory.

I use Scaler 2 to prototype chord progressions.  I currently bring over a progression taking notes of target progression, then in Scaler either play chords into a Cakewalk midi track via Record, or capture midi in Scaler and then paste into Cakewalk track.  I then use lots of track markers to note what each chord is and move forward.

I've watched vids of Cubase chord track.  Initially just having the chord track display chords and create those chords would be a timesaver.  The circle of fifths popup is a tool I understand how to use.

Once again, I am not an accomplished composer, so I would not be an immediate consumer of all the bells/whistles mentioned in our posts here.

I think a staged incremental implementation would be appropriate.  With that in mind I will go back thru Cubase docs/ vids from earlier versions and try to determine what/how they implemented Chord Track.  I'll report back on that.

Articulation map is already a huge shortcut for me.  I find myself using a couple of libraries that previously were cumbersome to use. 

I really appreciate all the effort that you and the developers are putting into new features, supporting users of those new features, while stomping on new and old bugs.

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1 hour ago, Noel Borthwick said:

Rather than looking at the kitchen sink of chord track like features or what other DAW's do, I'm actually more interested in how you use a feature like this or if you haven't tried it what it would do to improve your workflow with music production.

I would use the chord track as a composition / prototyping tool.   I'd start by generating  chord sequences using some chord assistant tool like Scaler 2, circle of fifths, etc. and import the results into the chord track.  Another option might be to record a chord sequence using guitar and have the chords extracted to the chord track.

Once the chord track was populated, I would prototype a composition by using tracks with MIDI instruments and perhaps audio loops which would follow the chord track.  I could see making adjustments to the chords to fine tune.

Also, having the chords display prominently would be great for recording instruments once the chord track was created.

I am sensitive to the amount of effort this would take to implement, so an incremental approach would certainly be understandable.  IMHO, starting with the chord track itself, having MIDI tracks follow and being able to import chord track data from Scaler, Melodyne, etc. would satisfy many folks.

Enhancing ARA 2 support for chord track communication would be a great next step, to parlay Melodyne if it is present.

Edited by pbognar

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1 hour ago, Noel Borthwick said:

Rather than looking at the kitchen sink of chord track like features or what other DAW's do, I'm actually more interested in how you use a feature like this or if you haven't tried it what it would do to improve your workflow with music production.

I would use it to :-

A - Map out the harmonic structure of the track

B - Test out variations of this harmonic structure .  i.e. swapping / replacing chords , different inversions etc.

C - Make sure all my parts harmonize with the chords chosen and remap anything that doesn't

D - As a visual aid to the chords if I need to record a new part 

E - To easily transpose parts globally i.e. if a track turns out to be in the wrong key for a singer

I've not used a DAW with a chord track but I do have  Captain Chords and EZkeys so some of the workflow / features would be similar but more integrated.

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The most useful for me

1) Chord track would be able to read midi and audio and figure out the chords.  These could be copied to the staff view and shown on the chord track. 

2) Being able to change the chord track - then the audio and midi tracks would transpose to match.

3) Everything else - Studio One is a good example of chord tracks.

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4 hours ago, Noel Borthwick said:

Rather than looking at the kitchen sink of chord track like features or what other DAW's do, I'm actually more interested in how you use a feature like this or if you haven't tried it what it would do to improve your workflow with music production.

I was meh on the whole chord track idea, but the thing that really tickled my fancy in the Cubase video posted  earlier was the placement of chords; picking a chord; using the built-in circle-of-fifths to workshop progressions.... I could have a blast with that.

I probably would never use the chord track as a real-time playback component of a project. But as a compositional tool, re-harmonizing an existing melody; refining my boring chord progressions...

Having it built-in and sending MIDI notes to an instance of Pianoteq or my string sampler du jour.... yummy. I feel like this should be implementable as a VST plugin but I suspect there is something about the inputs and outputs that would require some plumbing refactoring under the hood.

Actually displaying the chords in a track above the project (c.f. the Arranger track) I honestly don't see the point, although I respect other user's needs here.

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4 hours ago, Steve Harder said:

I will go back thru Cubase docs/ vids from earlier versions and try to determine what/how they implemented Chord Track

7 years or so ago Cubase 7 introduced Chord Track.  The first implementation had the following features.

Can send midi out to instrument for auditioning chords.
 Chord Track located in display like Arranger Track.
Select a chord by dropdown or by playing a chord on keyboard.
Chord Assistant can suggest an intermediate chord between 2 chords, with varying complexity.
Can change voicing of chord from the info line related to Chord Track.  Root, 1st inv, 2nd inv, etc.
Display root key and scale. 
Different chord voicings.  Piano, pop, jazz, rock.
Can write midi from Chord Track to midi track.
Can be applied to existing project by selecting tracks, will detect chords, then you change chords in Chord Track and midi in associated tracks will be altered accordingly.
 Live Transform,  where you play identical notes and they are transformed to match the current chord.
 Coordination of audio track with a Melodyne like product.

I would utilize all except the audio track Melodyne integration.  I am primarily interested in orchestral sample libraries, but other users might give audio a higher priority.

I watched several vids but this gives a succinct overview.

 

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