fast midi chord entry

OK, for those that laugh at this post as I’ve missed it somewhere and it’s in Cubase 101, please go ahead and get that out of the way, I understand. I teach voice and I set up various song and training exercises for my students using Cubase and different rhythms, etc. I use different structures teaching these kids how to recognize chord structure and singing within, etc and I record them for feedback and training. Doesn’t seem to be taught in school? My problem is that in setting these up, it takes forever to go through and stucture the various chords. I understand the quantizing portion and everything, but laying in each line of a chord, note by note and doing so without a keyboard is extremely time consuming. Isn’t there a way in Cubase 6 to quickly just select a chord and have it automatically entered according to the quantize setup, without having to do it note by note? I’ve played with the chorder insert but I’ve yet to figure it out or find any usable info on it. Would somebody please take the time to give me some help here, would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

Hi you,

I think I do understand what you want. Please do not get me wrong, but I would for these purposes at any rate recommend you get a simple and cheap midi-keyboard. If you need it only for THIS purpose, one of the many micro controllers might be sufficient.(Korg nano key e.g.).

This is - by far - the simplest and fastest method to enter chords.

Cheers, Ernst

PS.: If you google for “chordspace” you might find this freeware plugin helpful!

Maybe try this?

Chorder is indeed the tool for you. It is pretty well documented in the plug-in reference manual.

I also second the recommendation on getting a cheap midi keyboard for easier data entry. For good deals on used keys don’t forget craig’s list and pawn shops.

First of all, I thank all of you for taking the time to answer my post. I do have a midi keyboard and the ability to play. I’m speaking of an easier way than to physically enter each chord’s value into the Cubase midi note entry, rather than enter it manually. I realize I can merely “hit” the chord, but sometimes the music these students bring me have what I refer to as more “obscure” chords and I’m wanting to be correct. I’ll check more into the Chorder as that must be the tool as I just can’t believe that others wouldn’t want the same thing. If I’m with a student at their place and need to quickly enter in several stave’s or an entire song for he or she to sing to, this would be so helpful. And to “raino”, thank you, do you know of any videos on youtube or anything showing actual demostrations of it in use? I’ll work more with the chorder, I guess I’ve just not worked with it enough, I assume then by merely setting my quantize value, I can just select “whatever” chord and the data will be entered. I play a lot of golf and as the great “Ben Hogan” wrote “the toughest distance on any golf course is the 6 inches between your ears”… seems to follow me around everywhere. Thanks again guys.

I thnk this is what you mean. If you stop the play cursor over a group of notes in the KEY editor on the Status Line you will see “current chord display” somewhere on the line.
If you can’t see the Status line then go to the small box at furthest left on the Toolbar, click it and activate the Status line. It is quite faint for some reason.
All features of the Status line should be there but if it isn’t then R+Click on the Status line and you will see options for the appearance of the chord display.

You can also go to the Score display and highlight the notes you want or all of the notes. Thaen look for “Create Chord Symbols” on the “Tools” bar (not the toolbar). Look for the “C7” logo.

Sorry, don’t know of any videos. But the manual is pretty complete.

I’m not at my DAW so I’m likely going to get some terminology wrong. But the basic idea of chorder is that it takes an incoming midi note and transforms it into a chord. You need to configure it so it sends out the chords you want. It runs in 3 different modes, depending on what you are trying to do.

I think the first mode is called single key. You assign one chord (using the learning feature in chorder) to the middle C note. That chord will be transposed across all the notes on the keyboard. So if you assigned Cm7 to the middle C note and you play a C you will hear a Cm7, and if you play an F# 2 octaves lower you will hear an F#m7 two octaves lower. This has limited musical use, since you usually want a mix of different chord types on different notes. Which leads to the 2nd mode.

In the 2nd mode you can assign a different chord to each of the 12 notes in a single octave. So if you assign a C7 to the C note and Dm to the D note, then every time you play a D note anywhere on the keyboard you will hear a Dm transposed by whatever octave the note you played is in.

You are not limited what chord you assign to any note. You could assign a C major chord to the C note and a Cm chord to the C# note and a Cm9 to the D note. The note that triggers the chord does not need to have any musical relationship to the chord gets played. That said most folks tend to assign an E chord to the E note, but you don’t need to. Additionally, you can use any notes you want in the chord even if they are octaves higher or lower than the trigger note Your choice how you want to set it up.

The last mode lets you assign a unique chord to each individual midi note on the keyboard. This allows you to to have the C3 note play an entirely different chord than the C2 note. This is the mode I use, but the setup is tedious entering over 120 chords (but I only did it twice, once when I didn’t think clearly about what chords to use and again after I’d used it awhile and learned from my mistakes on the first one). The other problem using this mode, is that it is hard to remember all of those chord assignments.

But I’m using this tool a bit unusually which mitigates this issue. After assigning all my chords, I built a drum map with the chord names instead of drum names. Now I can go into the drum editor and easily sketch out chord changes. Or even better (and what I was aiming for all along) I can use beat designer to sketch out chord changes exactly like you program a drum part. This has really improved how quickly I can write chord changes and compare alternatives.

Chorder also has a feature I don’t use that lets you create different velocity zones. This lets you assign multiple chords to the same note and selects between them based on velocity. This lets you do things like playing a Cm when you hit the C note moderately, but at a higher velocity you could trigger a Cm7 for example.

Last, chorder generates its chords on whatever sequence of of notes you are playing on the keyboard. But if you record that sequence, you will only record the trigger notes and not the resulting chords. This usually doesn’t matter since you hear the chords and not the single notes. But if you do want to capture chorders output, you need to use something like midiyolk - which is a whole different topic.

Or use the export functionality that includes MIDI inserts. Not sure how exactly that worked because it is unavailable in my version (artist), but it should work in Cubase 6.

Thanks to all of you, not what I need as of yet but I’ll keep looking. Too bad I can’t have two instances of Cubase running at the same time or two open projects at the same time (my system is big enough) then I could just create everything once and drag and drop as needed. Oh well, I’ll keep searching, but thanks again to all for taking the time to answer the post.

So! Midi chord entry actually means “Can I run two instances of Cubase?”

'E’s Got me, lads.

Actually you CAN have two projects open at once–but only one can be active. I personally do just what you describe (if I understand you correctly)–I have a second project open, I don’t activate it (so I can’t play it, but I don’t need to), yet it’s there for me to copy a clip/switch to my active project/paste. So this second inactive project is sort of a giant clipboard with a smorgasbord of clips.


These are fantastic ideas! Thank you so very much.

It also occurs to me that you would really only need to lay out your chords with variations for one key in major and minor using the ‘I’ for major, ‘i’ for minor ‘I7’ for dominant 7th, ‘i7’ for minor 7th, ‘V7’ for dominant 5th, etc, naming convention in the drum map.

If you set it up using C as a root for the ‘I’ or ‘i,’ then you could simply use transpose functions to reset everthing to a different key after you’d completed your progression.

The 128 notes in the drum map could easily accomodate all the standard different chords relative to any major or minor key … plus have room for plenty of standard tetrachord inversions.


Glad you like the idea. I was programing a drum part one day when it hit me, why can’t I do this with chords instead of drum hits.

I did do it all in C and transpose the output. The first drum map I made was my best guess on how to organize it, but after a couple of months I built a second one that is much easier to use. In the first one all the C chords were all together, and then all the D chords, etc. This resulted in lots of scrolling. Now it is the most heavily used first down to the least. I also included lots of extended chords (e.g. Em11) which hogged a bunch of the 127 midi slots ('cause chorder doesn’t trigger off of the lowest midi note, likely bug). They were also chords that may or may not ever get used. It would also turn out that I would want a chord that wasn’t included in the C-centric list of chords in my map. Things like Fm, or Cb - not of the key, but really useful anyway.

For the second map I took a different approach. More like building a construction kit. For each of the 12 chromatic notes in the scale I put in both major and minor chords, power chords a fifth of an octave lower (hey I play guitar), and also each note as a single note. This last one means that worst case I can build any chord from scratch if needed - not something you’d generally want to do, but the capability is important. Also this means I could easily build the more exotic extensions by adding a note or 2 to a more typical chord. Then for all the standard chords in the key of C, I added some extensions (6ths, 7ths etc). And the sus variants (I may have done sus chords for all 12 scale steps, can’t recall).

One other change I made between maps is in the notation. Instead of calling the chords C, Dm, Em, F etc I’m naming them I, IIm, IIIm, IV etc. I’ve found that makes me think more musically for some reason. Your tuning may vary. :smiley:

I’d be happy to post my map when I get to my DAW.

Yes, please post. It would be great to give a model a spin to see if that met all needs, or, if not, to use as jump off point.

I see you are also pretty well ahead of me with the naming convention … although I’d use ‘iii’ instead of ‘IIIm.’ I’m sure this type of naming folds perfectly into harmony theory … as opposed to having to think each time, ‘ahh … let me see, the minor 3rd of key X is W minor.’ It is musical thinking!


I actually did initially plan on going iii instead of IIIm. But in the end IIIm was easier to read on-screen, especially when scanning up and down a list looking for a particular chord.

I’m trying to upload both the drum map and the chorder configuration. But the forum tells me that the extensions drm and xml are not allowed. Why on earth would they restrict the exact types of files that folks would want to share?


Maybe it’s a protection against ‘executable’ files? Could you try to rar or zip the files?

I don’t imagine the files are very large. Maybe small enough to e-mail when rared?


just rename them to .txt for example. we’ll rename them back.

OK here is a zip folder. The xml file contains the exported tracks where I have chorder configured with all the chords. I exported the tracks since I couldn’t see how to save my chorder preset as a file. But that is just as well since this also has a midi-mod setup to slightly shorten the length of the notes a small amount. This is because Beat Designer generates notes exactly the length of it’s quantize value, which is fine. But because of the processing delays introduced by chorder you could end up with the note-off messsage for note1 coming shortly after the note-on message for note2 - if the 2 notes are the same pitch this makes note2 disappear. The midi mod fixes this. The tracks also include BD setup to use the map/chorder combo.
Chorder chord (82.9 KB)

TY Rodger :smiley: !

I won’t have a chance to get into this until later this weekend.

I do already have a question, though: how do you bring the tracks in an xml file into a project?