Whats the Best Chord Progression Hardware?

Im not the best at music theory and im looking into getting a piece of hardware that gives me suggestions for chords to use in a pattern. Not software as i already have a few. Ive looked at the Kordbot and NDLR so far. Both look great but i cant decide if one is better as there seems to be no comparison reviews yet. Maybe there some other hardware? Let me know your thoughts. Cheers.

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Well out my price range but this looked interesting. Another one for the list :slight_smile:


Edit: wasn’t showing a video preview, so it’s Polyend SEQ reviewed by Loopop

Theory Board on Kickstarter


boss dr-5 is pretty cool but a bit oldschool

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I was always interested in one of the Omnichords that has midi, might be something to look at if you don’t mind a retro option

edit: I just thought you might want to look into isomorphic controllers or even launchpads too if it has to be hardware, chord shapes are significantly easier to remember on pad controllers than piano. IOS has a bunch of options and theres a whole lot in software too. I dont know if you’ve got an ipad but theres a great app called chordpolypad. it has 64 pads and you can automatically fill them randomly with a slider for different variations like complexity etc. then you can save them as banks. id think even the cheap old ipads will run midi stuff like that effortlessly

MPC Live has a really nice Pad Perform Mode with customisable scales, chords and progressions.

I understand the appeal of these devices, but while they will help you form the chords more easily they will not really help you in deciding which chords should follow one another in what order.

I do find that music theory can be daunting and often it is presented in an unnecessarily complicated and convoluted manner. But there are some accessible attempts out there to teach the basics of chord progressions (not chord formation) such as eg Hook Theory.

I think you’d gain a lot giving something like that a shot, once you understand the function of different chord types and chord degrees, you’ll be equipped to write the music you want to write.


All depends on your aim. If you want to know the music theory and learn about chord progression, the @hausland advice just above is the way you must go.
If now, like I do, you just want to have a ready to go tool to play and obtain chords that fit to your ears, so go to the hardware like NDLR, that permit you long session of music with just your feeling to obtain good progressions (but you must have another sequencer to record your jam in view to edit or modify it). Two midi out, 4 instruments, nice and cool gear. I don’t know the kordbot, but long time looked at him, I think the NDLR is more efficient in term of immediat jam production.
Other solutions would be Pyramid (Squarp), MPC Live, has explain above.
The Squid from Toraiz is also a nice tool for chords.
What ever you choose, think about jam record in view to produce songs after.

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Thats why I am getting one :wink:

Waiting for my NDLR. Very excited to get one.
Only three left to order for now:

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Music theory only ever came after what people (OK, extremely talented people) did by ear. It’s a very useful tool and resource to suggest things your ears might not have hit upon naturally, but the quality of the music anyone comes up with depends mostly on how good an ear they have. In other words, the technical ability to make real what their taste leads them to want to hear plus expand your taste (exploit happy accidents).

If some piece of gear makes things work for you, I wouldn’t question it, just enjoy getting all the use you can out of it. You know when you’ve reached the limit of something, i.e., when things get boring and need to move. I like lots of stuff, but space limits me to keeping only the most useful things. And limitation isn’t a good thing for me when it’s imposed–I can choose my own limitations just fine.

The problem with every chord producing device that I’ve ever used (mechanical or electrical) is that they only play the same voicing of a chord in parallel. Parallel chords make for cool effects, but ordinarily they get dull quickly–very quickly–and you’re stuck for how to move things harmonically. For example, I can have my MicroFreak play a C major chord (with another C on top) with its 4-voice paraphony on any key, and do neat effects playing that same major chord at different keys, but that gets lifeless for me real fast. Can any device be made to stay in key so that I get C major on C, D minor on D, B diminished on B, etc.? That would at least make ordinary harmonic movement much easier without having to know music theory. But even so, it still sucks because the voicing stays the same on every chord., making things still sound constantly in parallel. Sure, you can make use of that kind of material, but given the kind of music we hear in all kinds of genres, you feel boxed in without being able hear your way out of it. It would be like playing bar chords all up and down the guitar neck, where the parallel quality makes it really stark.

If you don’t feel boxed in by the above, then great. I think Suzanne Ciani keeps things kind of simple harmonically while she moves other things around. And my Soma gear just naturally stays away from tonal harmonic kinds of sounds. But if relating to the traditional tonal system is what you want, you need at least basic theoretical concepts like chord voicings and harmonic relationships. It’s not terribly hard, and can be fun, but yeah it takes work to get it under your belt.


Eventide’s Quadrovox harmonizer does this, adding up to four notes to any single note you play into it. I use it in the H9 pedal to make in-key chords from the Digitakt, then resample them.

It does all kinds of scales and modes too. Super cool.

Does it re-voice the chords at all? My Jupiter-Xm has the I-Arpeggio, which at least varies things in a musical way so that it’s fun to jam on and with. It’s hardly a one-press music generator, though, and will quickly go stale without at least basic keyboard technique.

No, but you can choose different voicings and morph through them with a foot pedal/knob.

There’s an iOS app version, Qvox I think it is. You can check it out.

Kordbot is pretty capable as a chord palette.

It doesn’t yet have the promised sequencer functionality, but for chords and arps it is well featured and though has a cheapy feel to the interface, I find it punches well above its price in usefulness and I’ve always had a penchant for rubbery buttons and plastic moulds

If I was going to find myself in a hotel with a laptop, daw, vsts etc, kordbot would be near top of my list as a controller both for chords and the other stuff it does as a mini keyboard, touch strip, assignable knobs, and chord button matrix

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off topic but related… not hardware but Scaler can be useful, after I find a progression I like, I learn it on keys and guitar and take it from there.

The TheoryBoard (thread) is great for live chord generation. Similar effects, though not as polished, can be done with various Midi Effects processors and standard MIDI controller keyboards. Take for instance the Blokas MidiHub (thread) – you can generate a generalized chord shape (spread, clustered, bass with harmony, etc) and then map that to a particular scale (lots to chose from) and then generate the MIDI from that. Loopop shows some of that here.

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i Think the best approach is to learn a bit of an instrument before tackling theory…and that’s only if you feel you have to. If you’ve got access to a midi keyboard just download some chord charts. If you’ve got three fingers you can master a triad. You don’t need to be Liberace (I’m an ex drummer who’s a self taught dabbler on the keys) as long as you can manage three or four keys at a time. You’ll be surprised how easily a minor becomes a major or seventh etc. Then look at the three notes. Try using those to form another part around. You’re not playing live, just recording midi note that you’ve u can quantise after the event. You ear will be your guide, you jus5 know what sounds right to you and what doesn’t. Music theory is just a set of guidelines that will get you to a certain place…question is, is that where you want to be?

My english does’nt permit me to understand really what this sentence means. So forgive me if i’m wrong in my return.
So the gear mentionned use reverse chords too, and permit some inversion and also takes in account the possibility to reinforce some notes of the chord by doubling it with octave.
Other thing : the possibility of user chords that alowed to reproduce chords progression we like, or maintain as changing the scale and key note.
For me, ignorant in musical theory, it’s perfectly enough. Futhermore, since my music isn’t listened by pro musicians, my ears and my feeling are enough.
Now I understand what you mean, and your insert might be very useful for the electronauts. Thanks for your appreciated explainations.

I saw that Loopop video as I really like the work of Olafur Arnalds (I would really like to get his Composer Toolkit by Spitfire Audio), Nils Frahm (saw him 3 times in Montreal) and all the Erased Tapes artists. Thanks for sharing the info to all the Community.

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Cthuhlu I think will blow everything else away. I have it and couldnt live without it anymore.
Take it away and I’m lost, with it I can play Bach!