What is Smart Chord in MIDI keyboard controller?

Learning an instrument like piano is extremely rewarding, but can feel daunting for beginners struggling to form chords and play songs. An innovative and smart technique called “Smart Chords” makes getting started much easier by simplifying the chords.

Smart Chords are special chord groupings and shapes that allow you to play full chords while barring only one or two fingers across multiple keys of a MIDI keyboard. This enables rapid transitions between complex chords, allowing you to learn songs faster and expand your musical abilities quicker than ever.

Smart Chord in MIDI Keyboard – smart feature of MIDI Keyboard

Smart Chords refer to chord groupings and shapes that allow MIDI Keyboard players to easily transition between chords. Rather than playing every note in a chord individually, Smart Chords can be played using single-finger bars to enable rapid chord changes.

The concept behind Smart Chords is facilitating quick transitions between common chords in popular songs that share notes. For example, an A major chord and a B major chord share 2 of 3 notes. A barre across these shared notes allows seamless switching by simply lifting and replacing fingers on the differing note. The MIDI keyboard uses the root note to play the whole chord using 1 finger.

The result of applying Smart Chords is the ability to play advanced chord progressions at rapid speeds. This opens up possibilities for beautiful melodies, improvising, and seamlessly producing new music. 

Types of Smart Chords

Now every MIDI Keyboard controller comes with Major Smart Chords and Minor Smart Chords. But, a few MIDI Controllers offer much more than that. If your MIDI controller has a dedicated Smart Chord button, you can tap and hold the ‘Edit/Shift’ button on the MIDI controller and then change the Chord Mode, Voicing (1,3,5 or 1,3,7 note) and Type.


Here we are discussing about Types of Smart Chord in a MIDI controller.

1. Major Smart Chords

Major smart chords are characterized by a major third interval and perfect fifth interval built on the root note of the chord. This gives major chords a bright, happy sound. The major third contributes to the happy feeling, while the perfect fifth provides stability.

Some examples of major smart chords include:

  • C major (C-E-G)
  • G major (G-B-D)
  • F major (F-A-C)

Major smart chords are common in popular music and form the tonic chord in major keys. They convey a stable, resolved sound that is pleasing to listeners. The simplicity yet completeness of the major triad has led to its widespread use across musical genres from classical to rock.

Major chords are often used as the I and IV chords in chord progressions due to their bright, open sound. Their versatility also allows them to appear as the V or Vi chord as well depending on the context. Composers and songwriters rely on the major chord to establish key centers and provide consonance amidst dissonant chords.

2. Minor Smart Chords

Minor smart chords contain a minor third interval and perfect fifth built on the root note, giving them a somber, serious sound compared to major chords. The minor third contributes a melancholy mood, while the perfect fifth still supplies some stability.

Some examples include:

  • A minor (A-C-E)
  • D minor (D-F-A)
  • E minor (E-G-B)

Minor tonic chords define minor keys. Minor smart chords also frequently appear in major keys as a means of adding emotional depth and variety to chord progressions. The contrast between major and minor chords in the same song introduces tonal color and interest.

In pop and rock music, minor chords often play the roles of the ii, iii, and vi chords in major key progressions. Their plaintive quality punctuates the brighter major chords. Minor vi chords can also temporarily tonicize the relative minor key.

3. Diminished Smart Chords

Diminished smart chords contain a minor third interval and a diminished fifth interval built on the root. This structure gives diminished chords an unstable, dissonant sound. Both the minor third and diminished fifth contribute to the tense, unsettled quality.

For example:

  • B diminished (B-D-F)
  • G diminished (G-Bb-Db)

Diminished chords create tension and suspense in music. They intrinsically want to resolve to a stable chord due to their dissonance. They are often used as passing chords leading toward more consonant major or minor chords a half or whole step higher.

Chord QualityIntervals Above RootOverall Sound Quality
MajorMajor 3rd,
Perfect 5th
Stable, bright
Minorminor 3rd,
Perfect 5th
Somber, serious
Diminishedminor 3rd,
diminished 5th
Tense, unsettled

4. Augmented Smart Chords

Augmented smart chords have a major third interval and an augmented fifth interval above the root note. This wider interval between the third and fifth scale degrees produces a dramatic, unexpected sound. The major third provides a happy mood, while the augmented fifth adds tension.

Some augmented chord examples:

  • C augmented (C-E-G#)
  • F augmented (F-A-C#)

Augmented chords work well for building tension that resolves to major chords a half step higher. They are widely used in jazz and modern styles to tonicize other keys through their clashing sound temporarily.

Once you know what kind of chord you want to play for your music, you can edit the Chord Mode by selecting the Voicing, Type and Root Note for Chord. To edit Chord Mode in your MIDI Controller, simply tap and hold the ‘Edit’ button to enter the ‘Edit’ menu and then tap on the ‘Shift’ button to select the Root Note, Voicing and Type.

What Can You Do with Smart Chords?

Smart Chords is an innovative technology that algorithmically generates musical chord progressions. With an intuitive interface, it provides creative possibilities for various musicians including producers, composers, songwriters, and hobbyists. Smart Chords allows you to swiftly create harmonically pleasing chord progressions in any key or scale. You don’t need extensive music theory knowledge to use it effectively.

Simply select a root note, key, scale, and set parameters like complexity, emotion, and style. Smart Chords will then produce suitable chords that can be used to produce songs and compositions. The suggested chords serve as a starting point to spark your creativity.

You can use them as is or tweak them further to create more unique progressions. Smart Chords is great for overcoming writer’s block and experimenting with new ideas. The interactive features also make it a handy educational tool.

Intuitive interfaceControls for key, scale, emotion, and complexity provide varied results
Diverse parametersEducational Value
Educational valueLearn about chord functions by analyzing generated progressions

Real-World Examples Using Smart Chords

Smart Chords has diverse musical applications across all skill levels. Here are some real-world examples of how musicians are harnessing it:

  • Songwriters use Smart Chords to swiftly prototype chord progressions so they can focus more on crafting melodies and lyrics. The intuitive controls speed up their workflow.
  • Film composers use it to quickly mock up musical ideas for pitching to directors before refining arrangements later. This saves them time compared to manually finding chords.
  • Music producers use auto-generated chord progressions to provide harmonic direction when improvising new material. It helps spark their creativity in the studio.
  • Guitarists use Smart Chords to discover inspiring chord voicings to practice and perform with. It supports experimentation with new chord shapes.
  • Pianists utilize it to explore various chord inversions up and down the piano. The diverse suggestions encourage adaption and improvisation.
  • Students learn about chord functions by analyzing progressions created by Smart Chords. It reinforces their understanding of music theory engagingly. Students can also understand the chords before learning the finger position on the keyboard.

Incorporating Smart Chords can enhance compositions and open new creative avenues for all musicians, regardless of their skill level. Its interactive nature makes music production more accessible and enjoyable.

Smart Chords on mIDI Keyboard – Explained

Smart Chords provides a breakthrough technique for accelerating your mastery of the piano. Forming basic major, minor, and dominant chords becomes simple by using partial barre shapes rather than fretting each note individually. Once some Smart Chord shapes are memorized, you can impressively fly through chord changes when playing songs or jamming.

Practicing Smart Chords develops crucial skills in hearing chord progressions and where notes lie on your MIDI keyboard. The satisfaction of achieving fluid chord transitions and harmonizing melodies over top is extremely rewarding. Apply Smart Chords to unlock your potential on chordal instruments.

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