Robert Inventor

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Overview of Tune Smithy
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Time Signature Metronome for Rhythms and Polyrhythms
Chord Progression Player
Play & Create Tunes as intricate as snowflakes
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Microtonal Explorations
Microtonal Scales and Tunings
Music Keyboard Retuning
Compose Microtonally
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Chord Progression Player
One of the many features that come as part of Fractal Tune Smithy

intro - recognised chords - broken chords etc - just intonation tuning - tuning - fractal tunes - next

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You can use Tune Smithy's Chord Progression Player to play any chord progression. Just paste it into the text box, click the play button, and immediately hear what it sounds like. Here is an example:

Greensleeves Chords

If you are ready to download the program right away, go to next. Read on to find out more about what you can do.

All you need to do is to paste a chord progression into the Progression window and press the play button to hear it. Chord Player with progression field, rhythm switched off. Chord progresssion shown is Am = G = F = E7 = Am7 = ... (greensleeves chords)
(screen shot, doesn't play notes - to try it out you need to download tune smithy)
The Ed. button opens another window with more space for the chord progression.

Use normal symbols like Am, E7 etc, any of the recognised chords, alternatively the roman numerals I, V7 etc. The = signs can be used to repeat a chord. Basically you can just copy / paste a progression from any of those web sites that list the progressions for songs etc, and click the play button to hear it immediately.

You can also set a rhythm for your progression, using O, o, . for the size of the beat, V100, v50 etc to vary the volumes, and _ to strum the same chord several times in succession:

Window with more room for chord progression with Progression field and rhythm field

And then you hear the result:

Greensleeves Chords

If you are ready to download the program right away, go to next. Read on to find out more about recognised chords, styles of playback, support of historical, and microtonal tuning systems etc, and other features of the program.


Recognised chords
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  • Roman numerals such as V7, ii7 etc - either in the popular or classical form
  • Letter type chord notation
  • Complex jazz chords like Csus2, C9, Cdim7 Cadd4, cmM7 etc.
  • A special microtonal chord notation e.g. Cj for 1/1 5/4 3/2 2/1, or the closest to it in the current scale.

There are many sites that list chord progressions - and you can just copy and paste the progressions into the player to hear them.

Here is a screen shot of a test of some of the chord symbols you can play:
Chord progression field with lots of C type chords, starts C, Cm, Csus2, Csus4, Cadd2, ...
C, Cm, Csus2, Csus4, Cadd2, Cadd9, Cadd4, Cmadd2, Cmadd9, Cmadd4, Cadd2add4, Cmadd2add4, Caug, Cdim, Cdim7, C5, C6, Cm6, C6/9, Cm6/9, C6/7, Cm6/7, Cmaj6/7, C7, Cm7, Cmaj7, C7sus4, C7sus2, C7add4, Cm7add4, C9, Cm9, Cmaj9, C9sus4, C11, Cm11, Cmaj11, C13, Cm13, Cmaj13, C13sus4, Cmmaj7, CmM7, Cmmaj9, CmM9, C7#9, C7b9, C7#5, C7b5, Cm7#5, Cm7b5, Cmaj7#5, Cmaj7b5, C9#5, C9b5, C7aug9, C7dim9, C7aug5, C7dim5, Cm7aug5, Cm7dim5, Cmaj7aug5, Cmaj7dim5, C9aug5, C9dim5.

(some are repetitions of the same chord spelt differently).

You can use the same symbols with the roman numerals, e.g. I7sus2 or whatever.

Here is a clip of it playing them all (with the repetitions for the different spellings of the same chord):

Chords test

To play that clip, I just pasted that long list given above into the Chord Player. To record it to midi I used the record to Midi button.

Here is another version of the same clip with it set to play a figuration for each chord


The player will also recognise any other chord symbols you make up along the same lines. It will recognise just about any chord symbol you type into it. If there is a symbol it can't play just let me know and I will see what I can do to add it in.

It also recognises various chord symbols to help with playing microtonal chords , such as Csm for the septimal minor or Ch9 for a harmonic ninth chord etc. (Later I plan to add in Sagittal chord symbols as well, which will let you play just about any microtonal chord).

If you have a favourite chord symbol not included e-mail the developer and ask for it to be included:


Styles of playback
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You can also set various styles of playback. Here is the Greensleeves chords progression played with broken chords and a figuration for the arpeggiation pattern


This clip explores just intonation tuning - see the next section for more about this.


Just intonation tunings
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That particular clip is played in just intonation - so the intervals are all pure harmonic series based chords. Technically, this means that all the frequencies are in low number ratios such as 5/4 (e.g. 400 Hz and 500 Hz or whatever).

Normally only a few chords can be pure just intonation in any tuning system. Most tuning systems such as twelve equal and historical temperaments are compromises that either make all the chords slightly impure - or make some chords pure and others impure.

If you keep to a small repertoire of chords, it is possible sometimes to make them all pure. But normally, the scale needs to be retuned for each chord if you want them all to be pure. For instance three major thirds stack together to make an octave in twelve equal, but if you try to do the same thing with pure just intonation chords, one of the chords has to be impure - either one of the major thirds, or the octave.

In this case the clip uses the option Rotate scale to chord roots which you see in the screen shot at the top of this page. The chords themselves are wonderfully pure, but it has disadvantages too - to achieve that you need to have tiny shifts in pitch of some of the notes as the tune progresses - something that some people find more noticeable than others. If it sounds out of tune to you in places, probably you are noticing those tiny shifts in pitch from one chord to the next, rather than the pitch relationships between the notes in play at any given time, which are beatifully in tune. Anyway this is one of the things you can explore in the Chord Player.

Using exactly the same chord progression and changing the scale to a septimal one with the so called subminor (7/6 for the third) and supermajor (9/7 for the third) you have the darker more soulful

Septimal greensleeves chords

For details of all the things it can do see the Chord Player help page (on-line copy). Or open in new window


Equal temperaments and other scales
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You can listen to what your progression sounds like in any temperament. The drop list includes some famous historical ones. If you follow the links in the menu you find more and then you can also use the Scala scales archive of over 3000 scales, many of which are twelve tone scales, which you get if you install the Scala archive.

You can also use scales with more than 12 notes to an octave, such as thirty one equal for instance. When you do that, the Chord Player plays the closest available pitches. This is where the microtonal notations become relevant. To distinguish between possible chords, you can use a few microtonal notations which are built in to the player.

For instance to distinguish the two main types of just intonation minor chord, use Csm for the nearest to the septimal minor 1/1 7/6 3/2 in the current tuning system, and Cjm for the nearest to 1/1 5/4 3/2, while plain Cm will find the nearest to the equal tempered chord 1/1 400.0 700.0.

You can also set up your own system of chord symbols to play a progression in any tuning you like.

In the future I plan to add in Sagittal notation. This will give many more microtonal possibilities for the chord symbols.


You can use your chord progressions to make fractal tunes
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Here is an example

Greensleeves fractal tune

The easiest way to get started with this is to choose one of the example chord progression tunes that come with the program, in the Player or Composer task - then replace the chord progression in the chord progression window (Ctrl + 151) with your desired progression. Then tweak the result to make it into your own tune.

For more about this see Chords in the Play & Create Tunes that play endlessly section.


What to do next
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Freeware / Shareware status:

  • The Chord Player itself is free when used just to play the chords - with a short splash screen when the program starts up.
  • Record to midi while the progression is playing is a shareware feature. You can do some midi recording in the free version - up to one minute per recording, and five saves per session. If you want to use the midi recording capabilities more extensively, you need to purchase the program.
  • To continuously vary the tempo or volume of a repeating chord progression (e.g. slowly speed up or slow down), using the script, is also shareware.

The shareware level you need to purchase for those two features is the Midi Save level. This will remove the splash, enable scripting and permit more than one minute of recording to midi and as many recordings as you like per session.

Any of the other shareware levels will also unlock the Save Midi feature.

You may also want to use your chord progressions to make new fractal tunes. If so, you will want the Play level, which also unlocks the Midi Save level.

For pricing, details of the shareware levels, purchases FAQ etc, see the Purchase page

To continue reading about Tune Smithy, go on to:

Play & Create Tunes that play endlessly

To find this feature after you download Tune Smithy:
Look in the Tune Smithy Tasks window for:chord player

The program comes with a Free Test drive with all the features completely unlocked (start the test drive at any time):

Download Tune Smithy



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To find this feature:
look in the
Tune Smithy Tasks window for:
chord player

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© Robert Walker 2008
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By Robert Walker

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