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MIDI chord progressions sets - The end of musicianship as we know it?
Old 22nd January 2021
  #1
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
MIDI chord progressions sets - The end of musicianship as we know it?

Perhaps I am slow on the uptake, but I have recently come across "mega" sets of MIDI chord progressions for purchase. At first I thought these might be a useful instructional tool for musicians looking to master a given style and its standard chord progressions. But the more I thought about it, the more I see these chord progression sets as just one more step down the ladder to laziness and a lack of commitment to master your craft. We aren't too far off from having AI algorithms write all of our pop music for us. That would be a sad day. For me, coming up with clever chord progressions is one of the most enjoyable aspects of writing music. Hence, I would never use one of these preset chord progressions for one of my own songs. To study, yes. But to actually use as my own creative work, no way.
Old 22nd January 2021
  #2
Gear Maniac
 
There have been midi chord progressions since MIDI was invented. GM? There have been are a million musician killing inventions since 1900. The worst was radio. In 2020 you had already terrible pay and then a pandemic.

I was listening to a Hall of Fame guitarist tonite: he said he never saw so many good musicians in Nashville as today. Most young people don't even know what MIDI is any more...some invisible DAW language.

The end of musicianship maybe coming, but if so, nobody will be around to cry.

Calm down and go back to the shed. Personal musicianship is finite and I admit MIDI issues have stolen my practice time on many occasions. I can think of so many great wrongs to get fired up about.....the demise of the Neapolitan School, for example:

as that guy will explain, we have no idea what a real musician even is, as the art of teaching them never made it to 1900.

Defund the Conservatories!!
Old 22nd January 2021
  #3
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chaocrator's Avatar
back in 1980s, when i was a kid, video calls appeared to be a super cool futuristic sci-fi thing.

now it's 2021, and real world video calls are dumb thing when people walk and chat about nothing and crash into the poles and other objects, because they're too busy with staring at phone screen to look around.

back to MIDI chord progression packs.

this is the beginning of real world «automated music» — and as we can see, this also has nothing to do with fancy sci-fi stuff.

anyone is still free to learn the basic of music theory — what are chords, what are chord progressions and how they work.

but there's another opportunity now — not bothering about that all, just buying semi-processed goods, dropping them into a DAW, and making formulaic music with little or no effort.
Old 22nd January 2021
  #4
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
I use presets on hardware and tweak them, so it is not like I am entirely original and I put effort into all kinds of things when I am making music. I can't see using chord packs though, and also because I don't use a daw for midi. I am not classically trained and I am self-taught but I do try to mess around with chords a bit as needed and things like that. Just learn a bit and explore, it is more fun that way.
Old 22nd January 2021
  #5
Gear Guru
 
Yoozer's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
If AI beats you in songwriting, perhaps your songwriting isn't as good as you think it is.

Music is not a game, so there is no such thing as cheating. You, as an electronic musician, take shortcuts all the time.

We live in a time where music theory folks can make a living by talking about theory on Youtube. That's pretty healthy. Interest in theory is probably at an all time high because people want to make that cool stuff that does not sound like anyone else.

What I said 12 years ago is still relevant. The chord packs that are sold are mostly a scam, because you overpay for MIDI files that were acquired from a generator anyway.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yoozer ➡️
It doesn't matter. Here's why.

A generator will generate a number of chords in a row. It will not have any idea of if they'll actually fit together even though it completely followed the rules its programming consists of. It can't listen, think and appreciate.

By themselves they don't do much; they don't really tell a story, only allude to one, half-heartedly. The app plays them with a sampled piano sound - no expression, no change in velocity.

Anyone using a generator is going to do the following:

  1. Copy these progressions. Hey, it's an improvement on the Am/Em/Dm they did before and couldn't think themselves out of. Net result: win.
  2. Extend and explore progressions. Hey, it's an improvement on the 4 chords for the 4 bars they used to do with something different for the chorus. Net result: win.
  3. Dive in deeper and study, encouraged by the possibilities. Net result: win.
  4. Hit "Randomize" and pick out the good parts. Net result: you get music with more than just one root note, win.
Here's a video.



How are you going to discern between these chords when they're

- randomly generated by an app
- picked up (yet again) by some artist who puts lyrics and a melody to it
- dreamt up by someone who studied theory and thought, "hey, that's neat" without ever having heard Pachelbel's Canon in D

The answer is: you can't. Those are 4 chords, 2 major, 2 major, and they fit right there in the circle of fifths.

That's the whole trick about electronic music; or even more correctly, recorded music. Once recorded, there's no way to figure out how much (or how little) effort was put in creating the music; there is only the result, and artifacts (recording a single guitar note and overlapping 'm as separate wave files is going to sound different from strumming; those are artifacts). This difference disappears completely when you're talking about music that can be made by remote-controlling instruments, because dexterity doesn't count anymore.

So, does this mean learning anything is useless?

Of course not. A generator is a simple thing with no idea about voicing or orchestration, or blending from one chord to another by using various instruments - and lots of jazz progressions are going to sound rather outlandish on their own without the right context (or even all the extra notes involved that a generator doesn't have a clue of).

So, why educate yourself? For yourself. For everything the chord generator doesn't do, which is a lot. To get over that bar, which was already placed pretty low. To write songs that are, I don't know, perhaps a wee bit more intelligent in terms of chords than the anemic stuff we've got now.

A randomizing algorithm is as naive as you can get it; it has literally no preconceptions, no ideas or indoctrination about how music "should" sound, unlike a human being with access to a radio, who's going to be bombarded with ideas of how music "should" sound simply by virtue of listening from age 3 or so.

Learning to play and learning the background makes everything actually easier, because hunting and pecking for the notes sucks; having them evaporate, just out of your mental grasp - that sucks.

...and making music is supposed to bring joy - not suck.
Old 22nd January 2021 | Show parent
  #6
Gear Guru
 
Muser's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
I think this is probably what people are worried about.
news flash. you're already fifteen years too late trying to head off beating that particular horse.
but original classics like, goody goody gum drops and chewy chewy will never be beaten.

Old 22nd January 2021
  #7
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cogsy's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
If you are worried about competing with people using drag and drop midi arrangements, then you've already lost.
Old 22nd January 2021
  #8
Gear Addict
 
Arcana's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Imagine if all there is to a song is a chord progression.
It's a song starter, at the most. It's even less helpful to creating a song than a drum loop.
Old 22nd January 2021
  #9
Lives for gear
 
“Chord packs” existed long before this current iteration. They used to be sold in this thing called “books”, with names like “rock songbook, 100 easy blues progressions”
Old 22nd January 2021 | Show parent
  #10
Gear Maniac
 
Mach1na's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arcana ➡️
Imagine if all there is to a song is a chord progression.
It's a song starter, at the most. It's even less helpful to creating a song than a drum loop.
That's how pop music is written these days, though. A guy/gal ("producer" maybe) comes up with "some" chord progression / groove / beat and then a topliner (or more often, a legion of topliners) comes up with the melody. Which in the end is then sung syllable by syllable by the starlet the song was intended for.

I'm a sucker for juicy chord progressions and harmony, music theory too, so when most songs these days never go beyond a C-Am-F-G type deal, I won't even pay any attention. Maybe these "packs" would actually help if they include Steely Dan or Stevie Wonder level chord progressions

I STILL think it's crazy there are only 12 notes, but what you can do with them is almost endless...in a sense.
Old 22nd January 2021
  #11
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
It's sort of ironic that on a forum for electronic music someone is complaining about chord packs.

Every innovation everyone has now on their desktop ushered in the end of music as we know it. The DX7 and a drum machine created a famine back in the day.
Old 22nd January 2021
  #12
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WozNYC's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
"Band In A Box" has been advertising in Keyboard magazine for 30+ years already.
Nothing's changed. Relax. Come out to the coast, we'll get together, have a few laughs...
Old 22nd January 2021 | Show parent
  #13
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Arcana's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mach1na ➡️
That's how pop music is written these days, though. A guy/gal ("producer" maybe) comes up with "some" chord progression / groove / beat and then a topliner (or more often, a legion of topliners) comes up with the melody. Which in the end is then sung syllable by syllable by the starlet the song was intended for.

I'm a sucker for juicy chord progressions and harmony, music theory too, so when most songs these days never go beyond a C-Am-F-G type deal, I won't even pay any attention. Maybe these "packs" would actually help if they include Steely Dan or Stevie Wonder level chord progressions

I STILL think it's crazy there are only 12 notes, but what you can do with them is almost endless...in a sense.
Pop music these days is often 100+ tracks, consisting of tons of vocal harmonies, delay throws, adlibs etc. Then there's drums/percussion, synths/strings and guitars, often layered. Add to that many fx and other bells and whistles. If all you hear is the chord progression, you're missing out on 90% of the track.

If chord progressions were the main thing, the charts would be full of Jazz.
Old 22nd January 2021 | Show parent
  #14
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Phil Cibley's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arcana ➡️
If chord progressions were the main thing, the charts would be full of Jazz.
Even there a major technique for decades has been to write new melodies over
"standard" chord progressions. One could go on for hours naming all the tunes
that are based on "I got Rhythm" "Cherokee" "Have you met Miss Jones" and of
course the blues. BTW, even if you are using a standard progression, the interest
usually comes from voicing the chords in interesting ways, i.e fourths, upper
structures, extensions, clusters, etc.
Old 22nd January 2021
  #15
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grumphh's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Style Guide ➡️
pop music
I identified the problem
Old 22nd January 2021
  #16
Lives for gear
I still know very little about chords and progressions and I have a lot of difficulty identifying chords by ear (wow a Gearslutz member admitting they don’t have special ears!) so the chord generators and scale locks on my MPC Live II and Maschine+ are very helpful to me. I’ve never bought a chord pack but it probably could help me learn the basics and I could branch out from there.
Old 22nd January 2021
  #17
Gear Nut
 
I don't have a problem with midi chord progression sets (they could actually help someone learning music) or for that matter any tool available that enables people to create music, the more the better and the world is a beautiful place and all that !!!!

But in an ideal world I would imagine a whole race of honest people that would come clean about whether they or the computer composed / played the music.

And the same as with the music being played live or presented as playback in a concert.

And yes, these are the two things I dislike most about how a lot of music is being produced and presented in recent times

Of course that aint never gonna happen
Old 22nd January 2021
  #18
Gear Addict
 
Jiglo's Avatar
Arpeggiators, sequencers and chord mode all came first and were used extensively by musicians I grew up listening to. I used to think everything was played live, but it was often an illusion, especially from the keyboard player and then often the drummer too.

If you wanna be legit, might be better to learn to play a real instrument, but seems you can replicate almost anything these days with strum modes, swing and other ways to capture a live playing vibe.
Old 22nd January 2021 | Show parent
  #19
Gear Nut
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
I understand how these tools can be demoralizing. It lessens the distinction between homespun, bespoke, lovingly handcrafted electronic music and preset-surfing drag and drop. Writing your own progressions and hooks, doing your own sound design and FX programming, all of these things are going to set your music apart less than they ever have, which disincentivizes going through all that trouble.
Old 22nd January 2021
  #20
Gear Addict
 
Jiglo's Avatar
Forgot to add that i've tried Scaler 2 and Capt Chords and neither had interesting chord sequences to me, or many at least (I didn't try every sequence). Scaler had CeCe Rogers - Someday in it's artists scale set and that is a great sequence, but on the whole they might find interesting chords, but you still have to use your ears to find interesting combinations of chords as if you use those provided then you'll probably come up with disappointing music.
Old 23rd January 2021 | Show parent
  #21
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arcana ➡️
Imagine if all there is to a song is a chord progression.
It's a song starter, at the most. It's even less helpful to creating a song than a drum loop.
Your songs/tracks must be all production if you think that the chord progressions (plural) in a song are simply "song starters."
Old 23rd January 2021
  #22
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7Wave's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Funny this should come up. I started getting these ads for MIDI chord progression packages in my Facebook feed and thought of starting a thread about it here a few months ago, but never did.

I think what I didn't like was the fact that they were selling them not as an instructional tool but as drag and drop solutions for songwriting. I dislike it for the same reason I'm not a fan of companies that sell sampled loops and phrases as drag and drop elements for making music. Even NI Komplete Ultimate has too much of this for my taste (loops of keyboard riffs played by George Duke, etc.). I don't really see a good use for it, and wonder why anyone would want it.

On the one hand, no one can deny there's a certain technological determinism at work here. Computers and software are becoming sufficiently advanced to where we'll eventually see "composer software" that pretty much creates music on its own. The human user ("songwriter," "composer") just has to hit the button that says "Go." I'm oversimplifying, but you get the point.

The good news is that the music will be derivative uninteresting crap that nobody will want to listen to.

But the larger scheme is the democratization of music making. The more people you can include/empower, the more money you can make. People seem to care more about getting a certain result than the means of arriving there.

It's true that Fruity Loops has been around for decades. But the difference today is that the technology is more advanced and streamlined, and the sound quality is better. There are people in certain genres -- hip hop, for example -- who make music professionally and don't know any music theory or how to play an instrument. I know because I used to do contract work and music composition, beat making, etc., for hip hop artists from the late 80s through the early 2000s. Knowing how to play complex jazzy EP chord progressions and bass lines over a 909 drum machine rhythm was a hot commodity back then.

Dragging and dropping MIDI chord progressions into a sequencer is to them no different from crate digging for samples from records. Their method of songwriting is a trial and error search for the right riff or chord progression to drop over a beat and see how it sounds.
Old 23rd January 2021
  #23
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Moonwhistle's Avatar
 
And the difference to playing II-V-I, I-IV-V and a MIDI chord progression is?
Old 23rd January 2021 | Show parent
  #24
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grumphh's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by 7Wave ➡️
The good news is that the music will be derivative uninteresting crap that nobody will want to listen to.
While you are right in your evaluation of the musical quality, you are wrong in assuming that nobody will want to listen to derivative uninteresting crap.
Actually derivative uninteresting crap (aka. pop music) is consumed by millions (billions?) of people - much like McD is one of the most succesful fast food chains in the world.

Large percentages of populations all over the word just love their derivative uninteresting crap music.

If there wasn't money to be made by releasing derivative uninteresting crap, no one would do it.
Old 23rd January 2021 | Show parent
  #25
Gear Guru
 
Yoozer's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by 7Wave ➡️
People seem to care more about getting a certain result than the means of arriving there.
It has never been different. You are not going to hear any meaningful difference between a homegrown artisanally raised cruelty-free supersaw and one you bought as a set of 100 hot Melbourne Bounce Slap House XVII presets

The means of arriving are irrelevant too. I don't care if someone lovingly sliced their samples by punching in hexadecimal codes and spent a year on assembling everything on a 4 track tape recorder because it's not a guarantee that the end result is better.
Old 23rd January 2021 | Show parent
  #26
Gear Addict
 
Arcana's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Style Guide ➡️
Your songs/tracks must be all production if you think that the chord progressions (plural) in a song are simply "song starters."
A great melody or hook, a great rhythm or interesting choice of sounds is of much more importance to me than a chord progression, yes.
I'm not even sure why this is a subject in 'Electronic music' forum.
Feels like it should belong in a 'Prog rock' forum. Which electronic music artists are all about chord progression?

Taking your favorite chord progression ever, does not make it easier for you to make a great song. It's a small part of the puzzle.
Old 23rd January 2021
  #27
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
MIDIPACK IS IN-SAAAANE


....(insane MIDIPACk)
Old 23rd January 2021 | Show parent
  #28
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Tomás Mulcahy's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arcana ➡️
A great melody or hook, a great rhythm or interesting choice of sounds is of much more importance to me than a chord progression, yes.
Same here.

I'd go further and say regardless of genre, writing with chord progressions is just one tool in the box, and it's a very over-used one in "song" writing.

Mood comes from so many other elements besides the chords, and it gets dull quite quickly when it's a triad per beat/ bar instead of an actual tune.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Discopotato ➡️
I still know very little about chords and progressions and I have a lot of difficulty identifying chords by ear...
For me the challenge is to learn them, and making mistakes along the way. These are often happy accidents. Occasionally I'll sit down with a theory book, or try to do a cover of something that vibes just to figure out how it was done. Often, for me, it's the rhythm and timbre rather than the harmony. Rhythm is much more challenging than harmony. It means you have to listen to someone/ something other than yourself!!
Old 23rd January 2021 | Show parent
  #29
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WozNYC's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Discopotato ➡️

I’ve never bought a chord pack but it probably could help me learn the basics and I could branch out from there.
A chord pack might help you get a track done but it's not going to help you learn much. Best bet (IMO) is to grab a chord book and just start trying them. After a while (if you stick with it) things will start making sense. Best thing you can do instead of poking around hoping to get lucky.
Old 23rd January 2021
  #30
Lives for gear
 
To clarify one thing... Usually with an arranger, you play the left-hand chords, and it applies them to a chosen style, over which you play melody or lead. When it also supplies the chord progression itself, it's for you to perform lead over a pre-programmed song, and not really as a songwriting tool. They don't really write generic chord progressions for you.

Anyway, chord progression packs are like when you throw on a pair of dirty sweatpants, and the neighbors are just grateful you put on any pants at all, so it's a win for everyone, but not really. Speaking of which... if you're going to use MIDI chord progressions, why not just subcontract everything? You can assemble your own real pop super-team on the cheap, via fiverr et al.

At the Zoom meetup: "Hi everyone! I'd like to introduce our newest team member, Tammy from Seekonk. From now on, you will address her as 'Serban'. You have a question, Dr. Luke?" "Uh, my name's Tyreese..."
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