Chord Track Discussion (Was: Minor 7 b5 chord weirdness)

Maybe this is a small thing, but it threw me for a loop.

Cubase thinks about chord spellings in a weird way. It considers the 7 interval as a minor 7th.

Therefore when creating a half-diminished chord it shows it wrong (in the chord track’s chord editor), or actually it changes it’s mind after you input the chord. (note that the chord is displayed correctly in the chord track and in score edit, and while I have a problem with those slashes in the chord names that is a different discussion)

Create an empty project
Add a Chord Track
Add a chord with the pencil tool or opt/alt click.
Add a Minor7 flat 5 chord by clicking on each corresponding label (so click, C; min; 7; b5/#11)
You get:

check out video

However, the wrong labels are highlighted. I think the intervals are wrongly labeled. For 7ths we should see major, minor and diminished. j7, m7, d7 would work.) The problem with this spelling is that a minor 7 flat 5 chord is a chord type unto itself, being the 2 chord of a minor key.

edited for clarity. Hopefully!

interval major 7th should be labeled 7, appears in the corresponding chord as maj7
interval minor 7th should be labeled b7, appears in the corresponding chord as 7
interval diminished 7th should be labeled bb7, appears in the corresponding chord as dim7 or o7

all the other intervals are labeled correctly

r.u.sirius, thanks for responding… The problem I am pointing out is that the interface for creating the chord is unclear. Maybe I wasn’t clear, you simply restated what I said, aside from giving the intervals different spellings.

j7 is what Cubase uses for major 7, and though I wouldn’t write it like that it is clear. The problem is the mislabeling of the 7 at the top of the list, it should be m7, or if you wish b7, and there should be a third 7th for diminished. As of now it calls a diminished 7th a 6th or 13th, which though enharmonic, is spelled wrong.

Also, a minor7b5 chord is not a diminished type chord, it’s a minor type chord.

j7=major m7=minor d7=diminished

This might appear extremely geeky, but from a theory standpoint, it would be more consistent.

not geeky at all! you´re totally correct!

I´m not much interested in the new chord track feature, but it should respect music theory - that´s the base on which it´s built.

hopefully! :wink:

Totally right and also the notation “j7” is absolute meaningfulness.

Moreover I find another strange thing playing with chord track: you cannot play six-voice chords. It looks like that you can go up to 5 voices and if you add another voice to the chord, it will just sound the same. I tried playing with the setting, etc… but nothing.

Let me know if you also have this issues.

You will find this with the AAS guitar plugs (and maybe musiclab) it is all designed around 3 note chords.

As to how chords are presented, maj, min dim how does Cubase compare to other (similar) programs or notation packages?

I ask because I don’t really have a problem with what Cubase does here but if it can be improved for “musicians” of which I am not, I would like to know more about the problem…

I don’t use the chord track, only the chord display in Key Edit but I assume it is fundamental to how chords are presented in the entire program.

Also, is there any convention of how chords are currently shown, or is this specific to Cubase at this time?

I’m not sure if you mean the sixth note doesn’t get transposed to a chord tone of a chord you entered or exactly what, but I would guess that as far as creating chords it goes up to five notes and that’s it.

On the other hand, if you set the track to scales it ought to alter notes to get them into a scale that goes with the current chord, maybe. I haven’t played around with that yet, as I am still getting my head around how to use the chordal stuff.

It would seem though, that if you set the Follow Chord Track on the midi track to Scales you could have more than 5 notes to a chord.

One thing about this is that each person can have a unique way of using it, which can make it hard to talk about on the forum.

This system in Cubase is much more robust than what you describe.

I’ve used programs that play chords according to the chord symbols the user types in. Band in a Box, and iRealb. The former is a play-along tool for practicing jazz, a sort of a player piano on an incredible amount of steroids.

(It uses algorithms to create chords and riffs based on probabilities that are set in the “Style”. It has a lot of jazz vocabulary programmed into it, rhythmic, harmonic, melodic– very sophisticated in that sense. It is marketed as a automatic backing track creator, but I guess one might use it to compose tunes.)

Irealb is a fakebook that plays accompaniments, simpler than Band in a Box but way more useful to me. Just plays the chords with a built-in jazz trio or quartet, stripped down and meant for practicing chops.

Both of those apps use standard “Real Book” type chord spellings, a lot of which Cubase does too.

Well, I was only posting about how the Chord Editor/Assistant pane shows intervals. The chord spellings is a separate question. That pane does not show intervals correctly, but it is still easy to understand. (and, the chords shown in Key Edit are fine.)

Yes, there are conventions as to how chords are spelled, and they differ depending on region.

There is a lot of agreement among musicians about chord spellings that is based on the Real Books, and there is a convention about chord types which says that all chords fit into 5 types, maj, min, dominant, 1/2 diminished and diminished. This is derived from their function and is a great way to frame them when figuring out what’s going on in a piece harmonically. (This doesn’t address classical music of course)

A ‘7’ after a chord’s root signifies a dominant chord, and that is probably why the Cubase people have 7 in there as meaning minor7. (that’s the 7th interval in a dominant chord) The problem arises when you want to use a diminished 7th. Cubase can only call it a major 6th. Same key on the piano, but a whole different meaning. And in a m7b5 chord (and others) it just assumes you know that the 7 is a m7 even though it’s not marked as such.

Well, enough if this blather :slight_smile: I could go on. :unamused: I have been wanting improvements to Score Edit and chord symbols for a dog’s age, and now it is coming…

Does look like an oversight here. Looks like they’ve used several sources to get the notation and somehow just there things are a bit strange. Mixed up conventions I’d guess.
The observation that there are only four notes max is probably due to the thinking that if you can program more notes than that you would be more than likely to be able to play them in anyway.

What I find most interesting is that the quoted “purpose” of the chord track is to alleviate theory from the song creation process. However, who the hell thinks in terms of A#? You would have to KNOW already how to convert that in your head, before the resulting exposed chords that are notated correctly would make any sense at all.

Sorry but it does not make any sense to me. If you were right, so why to include "b5/#11"or “#5/b11” in the chord editor if they play the same as a simple major chord (because of the “limit” on the number of voices in the chord). For me it’s just a bug, a serious bug for people like me. To reproduce the problem:

  • create an instrument track
  • create a chord track linked to the previous one
  • draw chord
  • edit it with a simple Cmaj and then with a Cmaj with "b5/#11"or “#5/b11”…they will play the same

In my opinion the chord track cannot do anything to help the creation process. However I find it useful for another thing. For example I am a guitarist and I can only compose my music on guitar. Once I create the harmony, I use (oh well I would use…) the chord editor to create, for example, a piano track. So, instead on drawing note by note all the chords, I like the idea of typing the chord name directly.

The problem is that the chord editor is poor and it only works with “easy” chord progressions. More complex harmonies cannot be handled properly.

I agree. That’s what I was saying since all of the marketing suggests the musically illiterate should use it to suggest possible “next” chords. So, by entering a chord and then “audition” your next chord choice based on the key and prior chord you can supposedly hear in context, correct voicings. The problem is that the resulting list is incomplete, sometimes missing significant voicings. And the initial chord choice list is mindbogglingly wrong as a starting point for the key that drives the choice list.

So, we are agreeing :slight_smile:

If I was wrong I wouldn’t know why and it’s not a serious bug at all. It’s a minor inconvenience that means you just need to learn how a chord is built instead of having a machine do it.
I’m a useless piano player but even I know how to play those chords in without thinking and a good idea what I’ve juggled in as a chord without thinking about what I’m doing.
And it didn’t take much to learn the theory. Stop telling yourself you can’t do it. You can. :slight_smile:

I’ll add that I also know “musicians” who talk the “chord talk” but strangely sound like they’ve never seen a musical instrument before on any other planet. :mrgreen: Not directly connected but I think at least some will know where that comes from.

The problem is that the chord editor is poor and it only works with “easy” chord progressions. More complex harmonies cannot be handled properly.

I think it’s a pretty good feature. I wouldn’t call it poor because I didn’t expect it to be Mozart. :mrgreen:

With the problem that it is wrong, and because you don’t know, you don’t know it. Remember they added it for the “non-muso”. The funny part is that it seems that it is the musos who want to use it, and are irritated by its disregard for common theory and notation. Why bother with all the notation stuff if you are going to do it wrong. It doesn’t make sense.

Okay, this is a bug. [edit: a user interface issue – not a functionality problem]

The bug is that the b5/#11 and #5/b13 buttons are available when you are creating a a triad, a 3-note chord. (note that there is no b5/#11 button).

Here’s why: The #5/b13 is the augmented 5th of the chord. This triad is available by clicking on the ‘aug’ button in the second column. The result is C augmented, a 3-note chord.

As far as the b5/#11 goes, a triad with that interval is illogical and there is no sense in naming a triad (a 3-note chord) C(b5). The reason is that the notes would be C, E, F#.

Those three notes could be part of the chords Am6, F#m7b5, and D7(9) and maybe others, but not any triad with C as its root. (if you do want C as a bass note in some chord you would add it in the 4th column.) Note also that when using MIDI input in the chord editor Cubase does not recognize C, E, F# as any chord, which is correct.

It seems to me that the engineers who designed this intended that:

  • Column one define the Root
  • Column two define the 3rd and the 5th, and thus the chord type. maj, min, dim, and so forth.
  • Column three define a 4th and 5th note to the chord.
  • Column four define an alternate bass note.

But along the way things got a bit mixed up, as Conman pointed out, and it does not stick to a single paradigm.

The problem is what I was trying to describe in my OP. The functionality of the chord track is fine. It does what they say, which is a lot. The problem is in the spelling of the chords and intervals, and how the chord editor is thought out, and possibly, the limitations that have been placed on it.

For example, while you can create up to 7 notes in a chord –yes, seven!– you can’t have two of the same interval altered i.e., b9 and #9

Note that the chord assistant really does work, and it talks in chord theory. (of course!) it shows the scale-degree of the proposed chords in the key they come from. (i.e., a Bb chord in the key of F is a IV chord; in the key of Eb it’s a V chord.)

The chord track is brilliant, and it shows that someone at Steinberg keeps trying through the years to get that functionality into Cubase. (Anybody remember the Style Track from Cubase VST circa 1995?)

Though they might advertise this as a way for people who don’t know theory to compose, what they didn’t advertise was that it is a real tool for people who do.

It writes up to 7 note chords. You can choose a voicing from the menu in the info line in the Project page. It’s like having a typewriter that types chords and voicings and understands context. One click now does what needed 5 clicks before.

It does not do every possible chord, but it is only an assistant, so the composer still gets to do something…

Here’s an example:

Set the chord track to Piano, Altered Jazz.
Create a dominant 7th chord, like C7.
It writes altered dominant chords correctly, leaving out the 5th

No fifths unless noted, these are either 4 or 5 note chords.

9, 13
b9 (with the 5th)
b5 (with the 5th)
b9, b13
b9, b5

Edit: I have not used the chord assistant at all, I know you guys have been talking about that, I just wanted to say… My comments don’t include that part of the chord track.

I think the current implementation of the chord editor is quite “strange”: it’s too advanced for people “who don’t know theory to compose” (I think they would not use 5-notes chords, or even 4…) and poor for people “who do” know music theory (I play/compose jazz/fusion music and I cannot handle complex harmonies with it).

As I said before I do like the idea of having a chord editor, but I wish it were comprehensive. At the end of the day we don’t need assistance for easy chord…we can play them directly on a midi keyboard!!!

dr4kan, I replied to you post in Feature Requests…