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Random Chord Progression Generator V3

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• <a href="#progen">Random Chord Progression Generator</a>

• <a href="#purp">Purpose</a>

• <a href="#instr">Instructions</a>

* <a href="#dia">Diatonic Mode</a>

* <a href="#chr">Chromatic Mode</a>

* <a href="#opn">Open Chords Mode</a> (great for beginning guitarists)

* <a href="#midt">MIDI Transport</a>

• <a href="#addfeat">Recently Added Features</a>

• <a href="#wlist">Feature Wish List</a>

• <a href="#trbl">Troubleshooting</a>

<a name="progen" id="progen"></a>


The Random Chord Progression Generator is a Java Applet that generates random chord sequences (or "chord progressions"). You need to have the latest version of Java installed (download from Java Downloads - Sun Microsystems) and have Java enabled in your Internet browser.

Random Chord Progression Generator V3.0

(See also Random Strumming Pattern Generator)

Version 3 is a major overhaul from Version 2 which includes more features, including MIDI playback options, and an upgraded GUI (special thanks to my mom for creating the majority of the graphics as she is much better at Photoshop than I am. :))

This chord progression generator is different from the ones that I have seen because it uses music theory to randomly generate 'good' sounding progressions instead of using a set of pre-determined progressions that you choose from or randomly picking chords from a key and putting them together (although there are settings for that too, as well as settings for generating chromatic progressions that don't follow a key at all).

No theory is involved in the addition of the chord extensions however, the extension is simply added at random if one or more of the extension buttons are pressed. So if you have several of the extensions enabled you may get some very strange sounding progressions.

<a name="purp" id="purp"></a>


The Random Chord Progression Generator was designed to be an inspirational tool for songwriting and a practice aid for developing musicianship skills. It provides different modes and settings that cover a wide range of skill levels from complete beginners to advanced musicians. Details of these settings can be found below in the instructions list.


As musicians I’m sure we have all heard bands, songs, melodies, riffs, or rhythms that have sparked new creative ideas and inspired us to write better songs. One goal of the progression generator is to aid these same creative ideas by generating different chord progressions that may not have been thought of otherwise. This can greatly help to overcome writers block and prevent songwriting ruts where every song sounds the same.

With the addition of the MIDI Playback Features, you can now hear what the progression sounds like to determine if it is something you like BEFORE getting out the guitar/keyboard and playing all of the chords yourself.

There are different levels of randomness from "anything goes" to much more restricted levels of randomness that use music theory in order to always generate good sounding progressions. So there is something for every type of song writer.


The progression generator can also be used as a practicing aid to improve speed, accuracy, and timing when switching chords. The chord changes are evenly spaced (quarter notes) so by playing along and switching at the same time the progression generator will provide a steady time reference for the chord changes. The tempo can be set to a low tempo initially and when you become very comfortable with the chord changes the tempo can be gradually increased to improve speed. This works much in the same way that a metronome works, but allows you to also hear what the chords sound like. However, this should not be a replacement for the metronome as metronome practice is invaluable for any musician.

<a name="instr" id="instr"></a>


<a name="dia" id="dia"></a>


The diatonic setting generates chord progressions that are in a specific key.

GENERATE: Generates the chord progression.

NEW EXTENSIONS: Generates new extensions without changing the basic progression. Only the extensions at the end of each chord are changed.

RESET BUTTONS: Resets the buttons back to the default setting. This does not reset the midi transport buttons or the chord progression.

Key: Sets the key for the progression.

NOTE: The key can be changed without generating a new progression. If you like the progression but want it in a different key, you can select a new key and the existing progression will be transposed into the new key. If the progression is already playing, press “STOP” and “PLAY” again to hear the progression in the new key.

COMPLETELY RANDOM: If this button is active, the chord progression does not follow the Harmonic Conjugation movements and the chords are randomly selected from the key.

SHOW ROMAN NUMERALS: Displays the chord progression as roman numerals. Information on Roman Numerals can be found in the section on Roman Numerals in my Music Theory Basics lesson.

SHOW CHORDS: Displays the progression as chords, based on the key that is selected from the drop down list.

7TH -- SUS4: The extension buttons at the bottom are used to enable a particular extension and the next time the generate button is pressed that extension will be randomly added to the chords in the progression.

NOTE: With all of the extensions on, you could get really odd chords (such as G#m6b5add9). Because there are so many possibilities that occur randomly it would take a lot to try to make every possible scenario to make sense theoretically, for example removing the "minor" from Cm6sus2 so that it's just C6sus2, as sus2 chords are neither major nor minor. I've tried to account for some of the big ones, but keep in mind that you may come across a few oddities on some of the more obscure chords that I haven’t accounted for.

o7TH: Toggles the 7th chords between half diminished (disabled) and full diminished (enabled) for the vii chord.

START ON TONIC: Always starts the chord progression on the tonic (I). The tonic is the chord that the key is named after. For example, in the key of G minor the tonic is “Gm”.

END AT START: Ends the chord progression on whatever chord the progression started on. This stetting will generate as many chords as it takes to get back around to the starting chord.

The extensions are not counted, so once the same basic triad appears again it will end the progression even if it has a different extension.

If "Start on Tonic" is enabled, then the progression will always start and end on "I".

If you are looping the chord progression you do not have to play the same chord twice, so you can skip the last chord in the progression.

NOTE: I put a limit of 16 chords on the number of chords this will generate in order to keep it from going off screen (although it still may every once in a while). So if the progression goes over 16 chords, it will not end on the starting chord.

REPLACE DIMINISHED: Replaces the diminished chord with the dominant 7 chord (V7). They both have the same function and they can be substituted for each other.

<a name="chr" id="chr"></a>


The chromatic mode generates progressions that are not in a key. The chromatic setting will likely sound like a bunch of random out of key chords thrown together... because that's exactly what it is. :D You can certainly get some interesting sounds in this mode.

All the buttons function the same as the Diatonic Mode except it removes the following buttons:




-- “o7TH”.

And changesKey” to:

Starting Chord: In Chromatic mode, the Starting Chord drop down list lets you choose the starting chord for the progression.

<a name="opn" id="opn"></a>


(Great for Beginning Guitarists)

Open Chords mode is a mode that helps new guitarists get used to switching between common open chords (major, minor, and 7th chords).

CHECK BOXES: The check boxes at the bottom allow you to choose the chords that you know how to play and the generator will only use the chords that are selected.

GENERATE: Generates a new progression using ONLY the chords that have been selected in the check boxes.

RESET: Resets all of the check boxes to the default setting. This does not reset the midi transport bar or the chord progression.

**** TIP ****

You can also use the Open Chords mode to help write songs in a certain key using only open chords by checking the chords in that key. Below is a list of keys and the open chords that would go with them. Some keys will have more chords than others as the other chords in the key are barre chords.

A Major: A AM7 D DM7 E E7

A Minor: Am Am7 C CM7 Dm Dm7 Em Em7 G G7

C Major: C CM7 Dm Dm7 Em Em7 G G7 Am Am7

D Major: D DM7 Em Em7 G GM7 A A7

D Minor: Dm Dm7 Am Am7 C C7

E Major: E EM7 A AM7

E Minor: Em Em7 G GM7 Am Am7 C CM7 D D7

G Major: G GM7 Am Am7 C CM7 D D7 Em Em7

Example, to play in the key of A major using only open chords, check the following boxes:







...And un-check all of the other boxes.

When the “GENERATE” button is pressed it will use only these chords and thus generate a progression using the chords in the key of A major only.

<a name="midt" id="midt"></a>



The MIDI transport bar allows you to control the MIDI playback of the generated chord progression.

PLAY: Plays the chord progression.

PAUSE: Pauses the chord progression and allows it to resume from the same place it was paused at when Play is pressed.

STOP: Stops the chord progression and restarts it from the beginning when play is pressed.

LOOP: Loops the chord progression so that it plays over and over again.

TEMPO: Adjusts the speed of the chord progression in beats per minute (bpm). Ranges from 20bpm (min) to 260bpm (max).

INSTRUMENT DROP DOWN LIST: Sets the MIDI instrument that plays the chord progression. All 128 General MIDI sounds were included in the list and there are 6 quick change buttons that allow fast access to specific sounds (piano, acoustic guitar, clean electric guitar, overdrive electric guitar, strings, and synth pad).

MIDI VELOCITY: Adjusts the MIDI velocity (volume) of the chord progression. Ranges from 0 (min) to 127 (max).

<a name="addfeat" id="addfeat"></a>


Features Added Since V2.1:

- A more professional interface

- MIDI playback features

* Play, pause, stop

* Loop

* Tempo adjustment

* Volume control

* MIDI instrument selection

<a name="wlist" id="wlist"></a>


"Grayed out" features are features that have already been finished and added to the program.

- Export progression to MIDI file (working in a small test program, still needs to be added to the progression generator)

- Save progression in a text document

- Display showing the current chord being played along with the notes and scale degrees that make up the chord

<a name="trbl" id="trbl"></a>


If you can't get the Progression Generator to load here are some things to try:

1) As mentioned above, you must have Java installed on your machine and enabled in your browser. You can download the latest version of Java at Java Downloads - Sun Microsystems.

2) If you get an empty square with a red X in the upper left-hand corner, right-click on the empty box and open the Java console. When the console opens, clear the classloader cache by pressing the "X" key on your keyboard. You may also need to close and reopen the browser.



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