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Digital Subscriptions > MusicTech > July 2019 > USING CHORD TRACKS IN CUBASE 9.5


At first glance, Chord Tracks can give the impression that it’s a feature aimed at producers whose musical ideas exceed their musical skills – however, it can be a powerful production tool in its own right…


Chords are a vital component of nearly all forms of music, creating the harmonic bedrock on which melody, mood and emotion are built, so it’s little surprise that Cubase has a number of tools and workflows that centre around them. Chords are, of course, related to musical keys and scales, which places them right at the heart of music theory, something not all producers know.

Major and minor triads are simple enough, but chords can get much more complex than that – both to understand and to play – with voicings, inversions, extensions, augmentations and all the rest of it. The main tool Cubase provides to help with this is the Chord Track. Like Tempo and Time Signature tracks, a Cubase project can contain only one Chord Track, which makes sense if you think about it: yes, you may find two different chords that sound good when played together – F major and C major, for example – but really all you’re doing there is creating a new, extended chord, eg, Fmaj9 or C6sus4 (depending on the root note).


A Chord Track shows a series of chord ‘events’. These are blocks that define a chord and display its name on the timeline, and, given the relationship between chords and scales, can also show scale ‘events’. At their most basic, these events allow you to map out and notate a chord (and scale) progression for a piece of music and to have that progression show in the timeline so that you, or the musician(s) you are working with, can follow it when laying down new parts for the music.

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