I’m always intrigued by elements within our software that introduce random variables. My favourite LFO shape of choice is usually “random”. Better still, I like it when auto-generated parameter values are created within the boundaries of some degree of user input, so as to make the results more meaningful and musical. Chance is stimulating. Sometimes the results are rubbish. Sometimes they hit the right note, and are not only interesting but also resulting in something you might not have come up with entirely on your own.
Enter Chord Composer from Intuitive Audio. It is a chord generator plug-in, which allows you to create fully customizable chord progressions, based on varying amounts of input from the user. It’s part chord progression “generator” and part chord progression “builder”. What I mean by that is that Chord Composer gets you started with some original ideas, that you can then tweak in a variety of ways within the plug-in itself. The result is MIDI data that can be dragged and dropped into your DAW and played back with your favourite software instruments.
In this video, I test it out to see how it works in terms of the different ways it can generate chord patterns and rhythms based on various amounts of input. You can try it out for yourself. There is a trial version available on the Intuitive Audio website.
In addition to generating chords based on key, scale, inversion, position, etc; it offers strumming and humanizing offsets to break up the strict rhythms. And there is a very interesting Pattern Generator section that allows you to break up chord blocks into slices to create more interesting syncopations. It’s both intuitive, and fun.
There is also functionality for one note chord triggering and recording. So you don’t need to be a keyboard player to play in your own chord patterns the way you want them. The built-in Pattern Stacker is a great way to create variations of successful chord progressions, and build longer evolving related patterns. I particularly like the Quick Pattern Generator section for rapidly trying out different ideas with just a couple of mouse clicks. Oh, and did I mention that there is a piano roll editor that allows you to modify the results of each of the generated chords?
I think Intuitive Audio has hit the sweet spot with Chord Composer. It’s great for guiding beginners who may not be fully versed in music theory, by pointing them in the direction of diatonic chords and voicings that will work in their chosen key. And it’s also useful for more seasoned composers in that it will generate the spark of an interesting idea that can then be developed with the tools they provide to manually change the voicing, extensions, inversions, timing, pitch, and duration of any parts of the generated progressions.