Constructing Chords

You have to be some kind of musical genius to have a chord named after you, take this for example:

That chord is a dominant 7 #9 chord othrwise known as the Hendrix chord or the Purple Haze chord, for obvious reasons… I’m not much of a Beatles fan (although some of their studio experimentation I do love) but funnily enough a mathematician has recently solved an ongoing mystery as to the opening chord of A Hard Days Night – I’ll let him tell his own story here but he makes an interesting observation at the end of the article: “Music and math are not really that far apart,” he says. “They’ve found that children that listen to music do better at math, because math and music both use the brain in similar ways. The best music is analytical and pattern-filled and mathematics has a lot of aesthetics to it. They complement each other well.”

I’ve never studied music theory, any skills i have are primarily ear/instinct driven although I guess I’ve picked up some basic theory along the way, more by osmosis than anything conscious… but I am good at maths, so maybe theres hope yet? Wikipedia has a deep resource about music & maths here and google will consume as much time as you have to spare on the subject, but there is an interesting discussion here by a statistician using many real world examples…

Whenever I visit someone who obviously has a big music library (real or digital) I love to check their iTunes & display their music library sorted by number of plays – if you havent ever done this, it can be surprisingly enlightening – even of your own listening. What you think you like to listen to may not actually be what the stats reveal, and mine threw up a funny anomaly, until i realised why it was: a ten second file called Fibonacci was my number 1 track! Then I realised, every playlist I ever make I use it as a visual & audible divider between sections… But it says something of nature, music & maths that I can play it now, after literally thousands of listens & enjoy it as much as the first time, have a listen:

download Fibonacci mp3

Lastly & back to the chord topic, I’m kind of intrigued by this recently announced application, due for release next month by sugar-bytes

From the press release: “Consequence is a chord groovebox, with a surprising depth of possibilities while being easy to use, due to an intuitive workflow. Chords are alternated, split up to custom arpeggios and turned into leg-driving basslines, amazing melodies or dreamy sound textures. The internal audio recorder keeps your ideas when they come or records loops or even full tracks. The allround soundlibrary contains all possible kinds of instruments, from thick basslines to gentle violines. Combine these with individual triggering options for unheard sequences full of joy and groove! Combine sound-presets and sequencer-presets, an unlimited source of inspiration. CONSEQUENCE is a composition tool which can create chordlines or whole songs on the fly, but also chords which are played via MIDI can be supersized using the innovative sequencing engine.

And one last observation; I am a big fan of the lovely sound of Native Instruments Akoustik Piano simply because to my ears it feels like a definitive ROMpler of many beautiful pianos (including a Steinway Concert D $100k+ piano) but there is one aspect of the software that really annoys the living hell out of me; The app has a basic recorder, so say you just want to improvise & experiment chords, melodies etc without having to boot up whatever host app you use (Live or ProTools in my case) then you would think the built in recorder was a genius feature, but despite the app inherently using MIDI it wont let you export what you record as a MIDI sequence! It will only export as rendered audio!?! How stupid is that! The whole point of having that recorder is surely to be able to improvise and then later on delete the mistakes & edit up the gems in a MIDI sequencer, but no – it seems Native Instruments presumed we are all such brilliant piano players that the only reason we would want to record ourselves is to capture our perfect performances. I have just one thing to say: FAIL!
Of course i emailed Native Instruments asking how come it doesnt support this very obvious need & all I got for my trouble was a generic reply mumbling something about that feature not being supported… In disgust I have searched long & hard for a very basic MIDI recorder that could host Akoustik Piano & do nothing other than record MIDI and then export a MIDI file, and does such a thing exist? Well, I havent found one as yet… let me know if you use one in OSX… I dont even care about click tracks or tempos or even viewing the data… suggestions anyone?

3 thoughts on “Constructing Chords

  1. leyton

    snap.. i have akoustik piano, i had the same idea,it had the same response, i sent the same email, i got the same response,,, it sucks.. and is 1980s stupid… next update perhaps??

  2. Dan

    It’d probably be quite easy to knock up a little app with MaxMSP that would record all incoming MIDI while in the background. You could stream everything to disk. Or perhaps have a ten minute buffer, so that when you’ve just done something good (by chance), you could stop and save the last ten minutes to a MIDI file.

    Of course, without a set tempo, sometimes MIDI files like that are awkward to edit later.

  3. tim

    Sounds like a good Max project for some downtime… and you can host VSTs in Max/MSP…. editing MIDI that isnt tempo mapped is no problem for me – ProTools has a great feature specifically for this ie ignoring tempo while working with MIDI…

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