Harmony Pattern Editor

Here you can edit your own harmony pattern for Orpheus, the automatic composer. A harmony pattern in Orpheus consists of 16 chords. If you want Orpheus to use shorter sequences of 4 or 8 chords, those sequences are repeated to form sequences of 16 chords. Choose a key, a tonality and the number of chords you want your pattern to contain and you are ready to start.

Editing the Harmony Pattern

Choose chords by clicking on them. You can clear the whole pattern by clicking on the button "clear" and you can create a random chord sequence by clicking on "Randomize!". Random chord sequences usually do not sound very good, since chords are choosen completely at random, without any consideration of their importance or relation to the tonic.

The chords are displayed according to their appearance in the circle of fifth. There are twelve chords to choose from in each measure, offering you to place the chord on every note in the chromatic scale. But do not be intimidated by the number of chords, most of the time you will only use chords marked in yellow. See the composition tutorial below.

The tonic (the first scale degree) - being the tonal center of a composition - is in the middle and marked with the Roman number I. Other important chords are also marked. The dominant (fifth degree) is marked with a "V" while the subdominant (fourth degree) is marked with a "IV". These two chords always lie next to the tonic.

The default type of each chord corresponds to the scale chosen. If you are working in harmonic minor, the default type of the tonic is minor while the default type of the dominant is major. You can change the type of each chord by pressing and holding the mouse button over the chord and then choosing one of the available types. The following table shows all available chord types. Since there are different standards of naming chords, the intervals (in semitones) of all notes of each chord are given in relation to the root. Since the root is included in all chords, all chords start with zero.

  • M - a major chord (0, 4, 7)
  • m - a minor chord (0, 3, 7)
  • aug - an augmented chord (two major thirds) (0, 4, 8)
  • dim - a diminished chord (two minor thirds) (0, 3, 6)
  • sus4 - a suspended chord; the third is replaced by a perfect fourth (0, 5, 7)
  • 7 - a major chord with an added minor seventh (0, 4, 7, 10)
  • M7 - a major chord with an added major seventh (0, 4, 7, 11)
  • m7 - a minor chord with an added minor seventh (0, 3, 7, 10)
  • mM7 - a minor chord with an added major seventh (0, 3, 7, 11)
  • dim7 - a diminished chord with a diminished seventh (0, 4, 7, 9)
  • m7b5 - a diminished chord with a minor seventh (0, 4, 7, 10)
  • sus4 - a sus4 chord with a minor seventh (0, 5, 7, 10)
  • add9 - a major chord with an added ninth (0, 2, 4, 7)
  • 6 - a major chord with an added sixth (0, 4, 7, 9)
  • 9 - a major chord with an added seventh and ninth (0, 4, 7, 10, 2)

You can also change the base note of the chord by clicking and holding the mouse button on the root of the chord. If the base note is the same as the root (as it is the case by default), the base note will be hidden.

When you enable the display of scales, you can customize the scales on which composition will be based for each chord.

To prelisten to your chord sequence use the player on the top right. Make sure that a mp3 plug-in is installed if you do not hear anything. The voicing of the chords is chosen automatically according to classic composition rules.

Composing Harmony Patterns

If you don't know where to start, try using only the essential chords, ie. the tonic (I), the dominant (V) and the subdominant (IV). It is usually possible to accompany every piece of (Western) music with only these three chords. There are some rules which can make composition easier, especially if you try to imitade a certain style of music: already in classical music the most prominent cadence (or chord sequence) is I-IV-V-I; church music often uses IV-I to end pieces; the sequence V-IV was avoided in classical music but is often used in modern music. Try to use these sequences. If you want to let your composition end with a certain cadence, remember that the pattern is repeated, so the final chord should be in the first measure.

The next step you can take, is to replace some chords of your sequence consiting of only "I", "IV" and "V" by their "parallels" or "counter parallels", ie. chords one third above or below the chord you want to replace. The yellow label can help you to find those chords. Always move two steps up or down. The chord one third below the dominant (V) is "III", the chord one third below the tonic (I) is "VI" (keep in mind that "VII", the last chord of the scale, is directly followed by "I", on which a new scale starts).

To make the pattern more interesting, use different types of chords. Chords with seventh (M7 or m7) or suspended chords (sus2 or sus4) create tension, which makes the listener anticipate a resolving chord. Resolve V7 (dominant seventh chord) by I (the tonic), and suspended chords by their minor or major equivalent. Experiment with different combinations.

If you want your music to be jazzy, change the types of some (maybe even all) chords from M and m to M7 and m7 respectively. Also throw in some diminished or augmented chords if you like. The most important cadence in jazz is II-V-I (where the II, being a relative of IV, is replacing the IV of the classic cadence).

If on some day you feel less creative, use the "Randomize!" button and replace chords which sound totally out of place by chords closer to the tonic.

Measure No.