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How to work with a chord master track and MelodicFlow

There is an advanced way to work with MelodicFlow that will require some initial setup efforts. It is only useful if you use the "Advanced" operation mode a lot. But the rewards are high: You will be able to create new tracks faster and better by recycling melodic rhythms and ideas again and again. Very useful for common basslines, arpeggios, chord rhythms, etc.

This is how it works:

  • Create a new track in your DAW.
  • Enter your chord progressions on this track.
  • Create several other tracks that contain MelodicFlow plug-ins.
  • Route the note output of your chord track to ALL of the MelodicFlow tracks.
  • Enter melodic rhythms directly on your MelodicFlow tracks now. There is no need to write down the chord notes anymore, as these notes are provided by the master track.
  • Tip: Export your melodic rhythms as MIDI files. You can import them to new tracks anytime. As the chords are provided by the chord track, you can quickly exchange and test new melodies. The setup package contains two folders "chord-progressions" and "melodic-rhythms" within "midi-examples" which will give you a headstart.

I was able to create such a setup for both Ableton Live and Bitwig Studio. I am confident that many other DAWs are flexible enough to enable this kind of note routing. However, I am not an expert for each and every DAW on the market. If you find a way to create such a routing for a different DAW, please contact me and share your knowledge. I will make sure to update this page for your fellow musicians then (I will credit you of course :).

Bitwig Studio "chord master track" setup

Bitwig chord master track

Setup notes:

  • The "chord master track" (orange) contains the chords.
  • I created a group called "Forwarders" that contains a "chord pusher" track for each "real instrument track" (like Piano, Bass,...).
  • These "chord pusher" tracks are used to route the chord notes from the "chord master track" to the instrument tracks.
  • For each "chord pusher" track do this: Insert a Note Receiver, set the Source to the Chords track. Then set the Notes to tracks box to "Piano" etc.
  • For each "real instrument track" do this: Add MelodicFlow as your first plug-in, then insert an instrument directly after it.
  • Enter your melodic rhythms in the "real instrument track".

Ableton Live "chord master track" setup

Ableton chord master track

Setup notes:

  • The "chord master track" (yellow) contains the chords.
  • Put a simple piano instrument on the "chord master track" and turn off the Track Activator (purple). This is important for solo/mute behavior.
  • For each instrument, you will need three tracks: A track that contains the notes of the melodic rhythm (in the image: "Piano Melody"), a track which contains a MelodicFlow plug-in ("Piano MelodicFlow"), and a track that contains the "real" instrument and the effects, etc. ("Piano Instrument").
  • "Melody" track: Set the Midi To box to the "MelodicFlow" track. This will push the melodic rhythm notes to that track.
  • "MelodicFlow" track: This track contains the MelodicFlow plug-in. Set the Midi From box to the "Chords" track. Set the Monitor field to "In". This setup will combine the notes of the chord track and of the melody track into one note stream.
  • "Instrument" track: This track contains the instrument and the effects. Set the Midi From box to the "MelodicFlow" track, and set the second box to "MelodicFlow". Set the Monitor field to "In". Now all the notes that are generated by MelodicFlow will come through to the instrument.
  • Create a group that contains the "MelodicFlow" and the "Instrument" track.
  • (Note: I don't know whether it is possible to reduce this setup to two tracks. Please contact me if you know of a better way to do the routing.)

Some tricks:

  • Use the solo button of the Piano group if you want to hear this instrument solo. As the "chord master track" contains an instrument, Ableton Live will continue to generate MIDI notes on the chord track. It won't do this if you don't add an instrument there.
  • Solo and unmute the chord track to play around with chord progressions. The instrument on this track will help you to listen to chords without having to use the "pass notes through" feature of MelodicFlow.

Download the project files:
You can download a simple example project here: Open it in Ableton Live and make sure to launch both the "Chords" clip (on track "Chords") and the "Melody" clip (on track "Piano Melody") at once.

FL Studio "chord master track" setup

The following setup guide was created by a user. A big "thank you" to Peter for this!

Setup notes:

  1. Add a layer on the channel rack.
  2. Add as many MelodicFlows as you intend to use in your template + 1 that will be set on pass notes through (this one we use to play the actual chords).
  3. Open your layer so you can see it on your screen, now select all MelodicFlows (hold shift and click on them). Once you got them all, click on set children in the layer.
  4. Drop your chords on the layer (not on any of the MelodicFlows).
  5. Set up midi ports to use. For example, I use Serum to play my chords that I set to receive from port 1. Now I set up a MelodicFlow to send on port 1 and also this one needs to be on pass notes through (this one will only play the chords).
  6. Setup the rest of your MelodicFlows. These ports you can set up beforehand. I suggest renaming every instance of MelodicFlow including its port number.
  7. Now all you need to do is set your instruments to receive midi from the MelodicFlows you already have set up whenever you want to use your template.
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