The Chord Player module

This module is used to play chordal parts – for instance basic harmony accompaniment, pads, rhythmical chord stabs or strummed pseudo guitar parts.

The module also provides time and velocity spread functions that can be used for various effects or to help humanise the playing of the chord.

The Adroit chord signal fed into the CHORD IN socket is converted into a series of MIDI note on and note off messages that are sent to the MIDI OUT socket when a gate signal is received at the GATE IN socket.

The chord signal is a set of polyphonic control voltages delivered via an S-Poly connection. This would typically come from the output of an Adroit Progression module.

The velocity of the notes is based on the voltage received by the VEL IN socket although this can be changed on a note by note basis if the VELOCITY SPREAD knob is set to anything but minimum. If nothing is connected to the VEL IN socket then the module uses a default velocity.

Time spread delays the timing of the notes in the chord so that they don’t all occur at once. This is very similar to an arpeggio in principle but is intended for effects such as strumming or to simulate the subtle differences in how a human would play a chord – where the delays between note attacks are just a few milliseconds.

“Proper” arpeggios are best implemented using a module such as the Adroit Melody Sequencer where more control over pitch order and musical timing is available.

The note delay ordering can be UP , DOWN or RANDOM depending on which button is pressed, however if a gate signal is connected to the time spread U/D IN socket then the buttons are ignored and the direction is determined by the gate voltage. A low gate selects down while a high gate selects up.

Interesting effects can be created using a Rhythm Sequencer driven in sync with the main GATE IN sequence to program up/down patterns that vary in a similar way to how a guitarist might vary their up/down strumming pattern for musical effect.

The time spread duration can also be voltage controlled using the CV IN socket below the TIME SPREAD knob.

A very similar arrangement is used in the second (lower) section of the module that controls velocity spread. Here the differences apply to the MIDI velocity of the notes rather than their timing.

The differences in velocity can introduce interesting tonal changes – for instance higher pitched notes will sound louder than lower pitched notes when an UP velocity spread is used. Assuming of course that whatever sound generator is receiving the MIDI data is velocity sensitive.

Again voltage control of note order and spread amount can be applied via the U/D IN and CV IN sockets.

Interesting variations in how a chord is played can be created by applying independently sequenced CVs and gates (and/or LFO or envelope signals) to the various control sockets.

On the other hand, if you simply want rock solid timing and stable dynamics with every note triggered at the same time and having the same velocity then just keep both spread knobs at their minimum settings.

The OCTAVE knob allows you to shift the pitch of the chord up or down by up to three octaves if required.

Use the up and down buttons next to the MIDI CHANNEL display to select the MIDI channel used.

Normally the MIDI output is sent to a single channel but if the MULTI CH button is engaged then the notes are distributed over multiple channels. The lowest note is sent to the channel selected by MIDI CHANNEL and each higher note is sent to a MIDI channel one higher than the last.

So if the chord is a triad (consisting of a root, 3rd and 5th) and MIDI CHANNEL is set to 4 then the root note will be sent to channel 4, the 3rd to channel 5 and the 5th will be sent to channel 6.

The maximum MIDI channel number is 16 so if this number is exceeded then some or all the notes will just play on channel 16.

This multi-channel arrangement enables you to do things like split the chord up so that each note drives a separate monophonic synth. Or pan each note of the chord to a different stereo position. Or in a sustained pad you could have independent sweeping filters on each note of the chord. Or you could lower the octave of the root note and assign it to a completely different patch. All kinds of interesting options become available.

Another useful technique is to use two or more of these modules in parallel. By using different OCTAVE settings for each module it’s easy to stack chords “vertically” to create very fat sounding chords.

When using multiple Chord Player modules to drive a single MIDI sound generator you can simply plug the multiple MIDI outputs into the same input as Voltage Modular merges the messages automatically. There is no need for a MIDI merge facility like you would need in a hardware setup.

You might also want to explore using two parallel Chord Player modules connected to separate sound generators that are panned to left and right. This can produce some nice stereo effects.

Tutorial link

The Chord Player module is introduced in LSSP 101 Tutorial 4.


The Chord Player module is part of LSSP XL and LSSP 101.