Why Rechord as an arranger software

Why ReChord?

Classic hardware keyboards traditionnaly come in three flavors: synths, workstations and arrangers. Synths have just sounds, workstations have sounds and a music editor, and arrangers have sounds, a music editor and auto-accompaniment.
As the world becomes more and more digital, some of these babies migrated inside computers, saving physical space in studios and gaining more features. Nowadays, the heart of the digital musical environment is the DAW, the Digital Audio Workstation. But how does it relate to the classical hardware categories?
Can a DAW be a synth?
Seriously? With the huge supply of USB MIDI keyboards and instrument plugins out there? It can virtually be any synth! And it plays hardware too.
Great! But can a DAW be a workstation?
What question is that? It was meant to be a workstation, it is even called a Workstation. There is no other environment where you could better create and edit your tunes.
Awesome! But can a DAW be an arranger?
Well, err, NOPE. It was probably not meant to be one from the start. Or maybe it is hard to fit an arranger architecture inside a DAW. Or maybe arrangers just went out of style. Anyway, the answer is no, a DAW has no auto-accompaniment mechanism. It misses some device to listen to the keyboard, figure out what chords are played, and, most importantly, instantly transpose tracks to match those chords.
This is exactly what ReChord does, it brings an auto-accompaniment mechanism in your DAW.
ReChord is an auto-accompaniment VST system with two components that work together: the ReChord Scanner, which detects chords you play on the keyboard, and the ReChord Transposer, which transposes patterns to match chords. All you have to do is load the Scanner in your DAW, on a track receiving MIDI from your keyboard, and load a Transposer on each track you want to follow chords. And that’s it! The two units automatically communicate in real time, the Scanner tells all the Transposers what chords they should play, and each Transposer modifies on the fly the notes on its track to match those chords.
In short, ReChord makes the MIDI tracks in your DAW respond to chords, and this is exactly what your DAW needs to work as an arranger.
And a hell of an advanced one for that. Because, besides its basic function, ReChord also comes with some novel features that hardware arrangers do not have, like dynamic keyboard split, chord voicing response, a chord-inversion slider control and many more.
You can pull out of a tiny three octave MIDI keyboard some performances that would not be possible on a classic full 88 key arranger.
Definitely no, it was never meant to be an all-in-one arranger.
Just think of it like this: a hardware arranger has three components inside: sounds, as a synth, a recording / editing system, as a workstation, and an auto-accompaniment mechanism. Out of these three things, you already got two of them in your DAW, the sounds and the editing functions. You are already used to manipulating them, you know the environment, your workflow is most likely familiar and well set up. You probably start a new project by laying down a couple of tracks, say some drums, a bass and some melodic-rythmic accompaniment. You then write a couple of measures for each part.
Now just bring in the ReChord Scanner on a dedicated keyboard track and add two Transposers, one for the bass and the rythmic part. These two tracks now respond to the chords you play on your keyboard, and you can immediately play your pattern in your DAW and change chords as if it were a style in an arranger.
Your DAW already does two thirds of the job, and the two components of ReChord do the missing third, the auto-accompaniment.
In fact, your DAW does not HOST your arranger, it BECOMES your arranger. Together wih ReChord, your DAW turns into a powerful music accompaniment software.
Imagine for a second a hypothetical all-in-one arranger, coming as a VST, ready to be plugged in your DAW. It has everything inside, instruments, styles, a style editor, a sound engine, all of it.
You load it on Track 1, connect your MIDI keyboard, select a style inside and hit play. And it works like a charm, it does both solo and accompaniment and outputs everything on Track 1.
Then what? What would you put on Track 2? It makes no sense writing any music on it, because anything you put there would not respond to chords, as does your arranger on Track 1. Any music on any other track would only make a mess.
So basically all the music in your DAW would be confined inside your arranger on Track 1. All the notes would be there, all the action would happen there. Till now you haven’t really used your DAW, you could have played your arranger just the same as if it were a standalone unit outside your DAW.
But no problem, let’s go further. Say that, after some playing, you want to edit an existing style or make a new one. You would have to go somewhere in your arranger’s menu and find its style editor, or whatever would be called the place where you see the arranger’s internal tracks, with all the notes and stuff. You find that place and open it.
Now think of what you just did! You’ve opened a mini-DAW inside your arranger inside your DAW! Because that’s what any syle editor is, a mini-DAW with its own tracks, where the notes for each accompaniment instrument are.
How ironic is that? You have your own powerful DAW you like so much, with its huge editing capabilities, a tool you love and are most familiar with. But you just cannot use it to edit music, all its tracks remain empty! Instead you must do all the work in some mini-DAW which is probably no match for your main DAW in any matter. And why? Again, because the tracks in your DAW do not respond to chords!
And the only way to make this right is to detach the chord-responding component from the arranger and attach it directly to a track in your DAW.
So why plug several arranger components in a DAW and not an all-in-one arranger? To provide you an auto-accompaniment software solution that fully works with your DAW, not with some mini-DAW.
This brings the very tracks in your DAW “to life”, and this is exactly what ReChord does.
There are no styles in ReChord, in fact there is not one MIDI note stored inside. ReChord is just the mechanism allowing you to instantly make a style out of any MIDI content you put in your DAW.
You can make a style out of any MIDI pattern in your DAW, just by bringing the ReChord Scanner on a keyboard-listening track and one Transposer for each accompaniment track (you migh want to read the “How it works” section for details about how to configure your tracks).
You just need to tell each Transposer in what key the pattern on its track is written. You may even use patterns that are in written in different keys for different parts of the accompaniment, as long as you specify each key.
And that’s it!
Maybe just a couple:
1. In general, patterns written over one chord work best, since you have complete control over chord changes when you play the keyboard. Example: say you have a two-measure pattern with the first measure over A minor and the second over D minor. Then, each time you play a new chord on the keyboard, the Transposer will play your chord in the first measure and then jump to the chord a fourth up in the second measure, as in the pattern. So, unless if you want this to automatically happen every time, you should leave both measures over A minor. This way the Transposer will only change chords when you change them on the keyboard.
2. In a traditional arranger, most accompaniments only contain some rythmic arrangement over a chord, but not much melodic contents.
In contrast, if you use ReChord, it is a good idea to also add melodic phrases within your accompaniment. ReChord has complex chord-voicing mechanism inside, making the patterns respond not only to the chord quality, but also to inversions and other voicing elements, and this mechanism is also very efficient on melodic phrases, not only on the rythmic.
Try the Modal Inversion response over melodic phrases and play different chords in different inversions, over different octaves:. Your melodic phrase will change and vary in a very natural way, and you might end up with a whole melody just by changing chords and inversions.
You can use any MIDI source to get your patterns from. Here are some ideas:
1. You can make styles out of any tune in MIDI format, there are tons of them out there. Import your MIDI file into your DAW, it will normally create a track for each MIDI channel. Assign some appropriate instruments for each track and listen to the tune. You may want (or not) to eliminate the track or tracks where the melody is played, in order to keep just the accompaniment. Then select a couple of measures that sound well as an accompaniment and cut out the rest. Loop your selected region, bring in ReChord and that’s it, you got your style. Or a starting version to fine tune.
If your pattern is over several chords, it might (or not) be worthy spending a little time to manually transpose a couple of notes, to bring everything over one chord.
2. You can clone a style from a hardware arranger into your DAW. If your arranger can export its styles to MIDI files, just do exactly as described above. If it doesn’t, you can always “record” the style: connect the arranger to your computer, create in your DAW as many MIDI tracks there are accompaniment tracks in your arranger and set the appropriate MIDI channel for each track. (if you don’t know how your arranger outputs MIDI, just create 16 MIDI tracks, one for each channel and sort them out later). Select your style in the arranger, arm all your MIDI tracks for recording in your DAW, then start the recording and play a couple of measures in C major on your arranger. Then assign some appropriate instruments for each track in your DAW, bring in ReChord and that’s it.
Anything MIDI contents you bring in your DAW will do.
As a matter of fact it does, and probably quite a lot.
Think of your usual workflow when you input notes with your mouse. Once you have written a pattern on several tracks over, say, A minor, you would probably want to hear it over E minor, or E7, or D minor. For this, you would normally have to duplicate your patten and make all chord changes by hand, on all the tracks, just to hear them.
Instead, if you load ReChord into your project, you can just hit “Play” and try a couple of chord changes on the fly on your keyboard.
But even more, say you do not want to play anything on your keyboard, or, what the heck, say you don’t even have a keyboard!
You can use ReChord simply as a chord progression VST. Just write the chords on a track where you load ReChord Scanner, where you would plug in a keyboard should you have one. When you hit play, ReChord will make all the chord changes as if you played them on the keyboard, without you having to change anything in your initial A minor pattern. You can even lay the chord progression for the whole song on the Scanner track, and all the other tracks will automatically follow. And it is always a good idea to vary chord-inversions in your progressions, as ReChord is sensitive to those changes and this produces more variety in your tune.
Finally, when you render your song, your DAW automatically applies all the chord changes in the final WAV file.
Inside ReChord, the Scanner tells each Transposer not only what chord was played, but also, which melody notes and which chord notes were played exactly. For each Transposer track, you can individually set in the MIDI THRU section of the transposer whatever you want it to play, apart from the accompaniment pattern: the melody notes, the chord notes, both of them or none of them. You can also set how the notes coming from the keyboard should interact with the notes coming from the accompaniment patterns.
You can make plenty of combination with these settings. Here are some examples:
1. If you want to create a “pure” accompaniment track as in a hardware arranger, disable both melody and chord notes. The Transposer will only play the notes on its pattern, nothing incoming from the keyboard.

2. You might want to enhance your pattern with the chord notes you play on the keyboard, to produce more variety or to vary the rythmic. You would then enable Chord notes, and the Transposer will also play them along with the pattern notes. The “On Top” setting gives the highest priority to notes from the keyboard: as long as a note is held on the keyboard, it will not be interrupted by the same note coming from the pattern. This gives you a nice way to “override” the rithmic of the pattern by playing a different rythmic on the keyboard. Also, the “Legato” option ties the notes from different sources to make the output as smooth as possible.

3. If you want your track to be just a “pure” solo track as on a hardware arranger, set the Transposer to play the just Melody notes (or both if you like) and put no pattern on that track. It will only play what it receives from the keyboard. The global transposition setting in the ReChord Scanner will affect all these notes.

4. You can mix on the same track solo and accompaniment. Say you have some piano accompaniment on a track and you also want to play a piano solo. Just enable the Melody option there and melody notes will plays along with the accompaniment on the same track. You can also enable the “On Top” setting to give the solo priority over the accompaniment, and/or use “Legato” to smoothen the mix.
There are no more “accompaniment tracks” or “solo tracks”, as in a regular arranger, just mix or combine them as you like.
There is one limitation, the DAW needs to have some MIDI routing mechanism between tracks. You can read more on this in the “How It Works” section and in the “Setting up ReChord” section in the user manual. Most DAWs do have such a mechanism.
We hoped you would ask! Actually, for some external devices, ReChord might be the perfect companion!
Here are some of ideas:
1. Playing an external synth, a sound module or an expander as an arranger.

If you have MIDI sound modules that have no keyboard, a common way to use them is to insert your DAW between some MIDI keyboard and the sound module. You either play directly through your DAW or use your DAW as a sequencer and output the MIDI sequence to the external sound module. As soon as you bring ReChord inside your DAW, the sequences you send to your external module will begin to respond to the chords you play on the keyboard!
Your write a bass line for your monophonic analogic synth and it will change as you change chords on the keyboard. Just make sure to turn off Melody and Chords in the Transposer’s MIDI thru section, so that your monophonic device only get its sequence from the DAW and not the notes you play on the keyboard.
If your sound module is polyphonic things get even more interesting. You can play both a solo on top of your sequence, which now acts as an accompaniment, and change chords as with an arranger!
And if your sound module also happens to be multitimbral, like say a Ketron or a Waldorf Blofeld or a Roland Integra, then using ReChord in your DAW will probably get the most out of your module. A multitimbral sound module is an such a powerful tool, that it becomes really tricky to operate at “full power” even with a keyboard and a DAW together. Here is the classic dilemma: on one side, you can play it live from your keyboard, but then you would use only one part (you could use, of course, several parts, but you would just layer sounds). On the other side you can sequence several parts in your DAW and get your nice complex arrangement. But then, darn, you are restricted in what you can play live on top, because your solo should match the chords you have already written in your arrangement. What a shame your sequences do not respond to chords! Well, just bring ReChord in and they will, and you can truly play your multitimbral sound module as an arranger in your DAW!
2. Playing a synth/workstation keyboard as an arranger.

This is similar to playing an external sound module, except that you play directly on the keyboard of your synth. Connect your synth keyboard to your DAW, load ReChord Scanner on a MIDI track that monitors your synth, and add a Transposer track with an accompaniment pattern, which you route back into your synth. Set your Transposer MIDI thru to play Melody notes, so you can play a solo on top of the accompaniment. And set the synth to “Local OFF”, so that it does not play sounds directly, it will play instead through the DAW and back. And that’s it, you can play your synth with the added accompaniment just like an arranger. If your synth is multitimbral it’s just great, you can make accompaniment on several tracks.
3. Playing a MIDI keytar as an arranger.

In contrast to a classic harware arranger, where the keyboard is split into two fixed areas for the left and right hand, ReChord features a dynamic keyboard split mechanism, meaning that you can play both melody and chords anywhere on the keyboard.
A cool and rather surprising benefit of this feature is the following: you can quite easily control your ReChord-based arranger by playing both melody and chords with just one hand. When using just one hand, the melody/chord split rule gets very simple: press one or two keys at a time, they are melody. Press three or more keys not too far apart, it’s a chord.
So if you are a keytar player, you may find ReChord to be a quite useful tool. Make your accompaniment style in your DAW and map chord notes and melody notes to different instruments. With a little practice you can control the chord progression AND play two instruments at a time, all this litteraly single-handed! And if you also map one of the handle sliders to the chord-inversion controller in ReChord you can make the accompaniment go crazy!