In this plugin feature we’re going to review a plugin from Audiomodern, a young and extremely talented software and sound design development team specialising in cutting-edge Kontakt libraries, sample packs and audio plugins aimed at the creation of futuristic, avant-garde and high-tech electronic music with a leaning towards Cinematic Ambient, Downtempo and IDM along the lines of iconic French record label Ultimae.
Chord creation in Chordjam is relatively straightforward. There is a drop down menu to select the root of your chord followed by another menu where you can select your working scale type. Next to that, there’s a third setting that allows you to adjust the root octave, plus another menu featuring a list of available chord types.
These basic settings are all you need to get instant chord sets ready to be triggered from the integrated keyboard conforming to the scale and chord types of your choosing, but Chordjam allows you to tweak your chord sets further with a second set of controls aimed at adjusting the voicing and velocity of the chords in a per note basis, as well as an arpeggiator/strummer that lets you play your chord notes in many different ways, including multidirectional arps and strums with per note adjustable speed.
All of these settings, except for the root note and the octave, include individual randomisers that allow you to try out different settings very quickly. The main settings for voicing, velocity and the arpeggiator/strummer can also be randomised all at once with a single button, enabling a fast chord creation workflow based around exploration and musical intuition.
Once you have a chord set laid out on the keyboard, you can use the integrated sequencer to create chord progressions without having to leave Chordjam. The sequencer features two different modes that can be used simultaneously or independently. The auto mode will generate chord progressions based on a series of constraints such as length, rhythmic resolution, selected chords, groove, chord degrees and chords amount, while the user mode allows you to write your own progressions manually by selecting chords from the integrated keyboard and drawing them across the sequencer steps.
Chordjam’s sequencer also features a powerful infinity mode that allows you to shuffle combinations of selected parameters in order to generate infinite progressions on the fly. In order to use this feature, you have to activate infinity mode along with the number of repetitions that you want for each generated progression and then select the parameter changes that you wish to be triggered with each iteration. This feature is great for generative music as it allows you to introduce chance, randomness and non determinism in your workflow without renouncing to a high degree of control through the use of predefined constraints.
Apart from playing chords from the integrated keyboard, you can assign chords to a set of 16 pads and then trigger them via MIDI CCs. The advantage of this alternative mode is that you can combine chords from different chord sets with multitude of setting variations for each chord, so you can mix chords from different scales and chord types, as well as with different voicing, velocity and arpeggiator/strummer settings. Apart from this, I find the limitation of having to use MIDI CCs to trigger the pads might not be worth the benefits, and I think that a switch between keyboard and pads or a separate key range to trigger the pads would be better than being limited to triggering them from a MIDI controller.
On the other hand, using the default keyboard, you can play chords in a much quicker and easier way right out of the box, without having to set up such a complex and specific array of chords first, but you don’t get the variety of harmonic and voicing settings that you get with the pads mode. Both triggering modes have their pros and cons and complement each other quite nicely.
MIDI EXPORT & RECORDING
Getting MIDI data out of Chordjam is very easy. There are options to drag and drop MIDI files for single chords as well as for entire progressions. Apart from these options, you can record MIDI output in real time by routing Chordjam into an instrument track, this way you’re able to record entire live performances in a single take.
Chordjam is a really innovative piece of software that offers a ton of functionality in a very affordable and lightweight plugin that is easy to learn and very fun to use. It allows you to generate all kinds of harmonic content ranging from complex single chords and progressions all the way up to entire performances based around sophisticated combinations of chord stabs, pads, arps and strums.