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The latest version of ChordEase includes a new mapping function for a system of tonal palettes, called the "Numbers" system. This system purposefully limits the number of scale tones in use at any one time, in order to facilitate melodious intervals and allow consistent management of dissonance.

Input notes are mapped to a four-note subset of the current heptatonic scale, called a group. Seven different groups are available, and they gradate smoothly in their tension or distance from the tonal center. Each group has two variants, one for major chords and one for minor chords.

The triad plus the seventh (1, 3, 5, 7) are chord tones, while the remaining scale tones (2, 4, 6) are tensions. The groups can be viewed as tonal palettes ranging from mostly chord tones to mostly tensions. At one extreme, group 1 - 5 contains the triad, and therefore sounds consonant, warm, or red. At the other extreme, group 2 - 6 contains all three tensions, and therefore sounds dissonant, cool, or blue. The groups in between gradually add tensions, or gradually remove them.

As long as you continue to use the same group, you're maintaining a consistent degree of dissonance relative to the chord changes. Think of the group setting as a tension knob. By changing it periodically you can vary the mood of your improvisation.

The Numbers system was popularized by tenor saxophonist and music educator Jerry Bergonzi in his book "Inside Improvisation, Vol 1: Melodic Structures."

Release notes:
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ChordEase adds spontaneous tonality and chord substitution

The latest version of ChordEase (1.0.12) lets you specify the chord via continuous controllers, without having to load a song. This was achieved by adding a Chord bar containing drop lists for the current chord’s root, type, bass note, scale, and mode, all remotely controllable via MIDI. If no song is loaded, these new parameters affect the default chord instead. The ability to change the default chord while playing enables a new usage scenario in which tonality is determined spontaneously by navigating a multi-dimensional parameter space, instead of by stepping through a preset chord progression. The tonality can also be automated via functions e.g. periodic waveforms or randomness, provided you have a synth or other device that contains such functions and can output MIDI messages corresponding to them.

ChordEase 1.0.12 also introduces chord substitution, which is supported by switching between two or more chord dictionaries. A chord dictionary defines the set of chord types that a song can use, by mapping each type to a scale and mode. Substituting a different dictionary alters the harmonic content of all your songs at once, by redefining their chord types. Substitution can be remotely controlled via MIDI, so it's possible to switch dictionaries seamlessly during a performance. For example you might have one dictionary for playing melodies and another dictionary for soloing, with a third dictionary containing unorthodox definitions for playing "out".

This version also adds other interesting features and fixes many bugs, some of them critical; see the release notes for details.


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ChordEase now has a demo video on YouTube! A user interface video is also available, and other videos are in the works. ChordEase is a new type of musical instrument: a meta-instrument. It isn't a physical instrument, it's software that uses artificial intelligence to enhance ordinary MIDI instruments, so that they can be approached in a new way. It's especially useful to performers who approach music rhythmically, because it can translate rhythmic input into harmonic and melodic output.

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ChordEase makes it easier to play music with complicated chords. No matter what the chords are, you can play as if they were all in the key of C. You don't need to play sharps or flats, because ChordEase automatically adds them for you. Though ChordEase is intended for jazz, it could be useful for any type of music that modulates frequently. ChordEase alters your notes in real time in order to make them harmonically correct, while preserving their rhythm and dynamics. By delegating rapid music theory calculations to ChordEase, you gain freedom to concentrate on other aspects of musical performance, such as feel and aesthetics.

ChordEase is a translator that takes MIDI notes as input, and produces MIDI notes as output. The input notes are translated to the current chord scale, so that the output notes fit the chord progression of a song. ChordEase supports various mapping functions which determine how the translating is done. ChordEase can handle multiple translations at once, so multiple performers can play through a single instance of ChordEase, using any number of MIDI instruments. ChordEase parameters can be remotely controlled via MIDI for additional effects. ChordEase can also record its own output as MIDI data.

ChordEase is free open-source software for Windows XP, Vista, 7, and 8.
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