The succession of harmonic contexts over time

Video Tutorial

A Progression consists of one or more Harmonic Contexts lined up sequentially on a timeline. It is what gets assigned to the Harmony parameter. Among musicians it is often called "chord changes", "chord progression", or simply "chords".

A progression sets the rules for all instruments. Still, each instrument produces quite different MIDI output depending on its Playing Ranges, the Figure parameter, the Interpretation parameter and many more parameters. Thus, although you can configure details like bass, chord inversion and voicing for the Harmony parameter, this information can't be turned into MIDI output without a particular Instrument that interprets it.

Note: A progression cannot have gaps or be empty. It must provide a Harmonic Context for every point on the timeline, regardless whether an instrument is actually playing there or not.
Note: While some DAWs feature a "chord track", these often coerce MIDI notes into a rigid grid, which only works for simple MIDI sequences and a limited range of musical styles. Unlike Synfire, a DAW is not able to recognize and re-compose phrases in a musically meaningful way in order to follow an arbitrary chord progression. Dealing with harmony in an intelligent way is a major strength of Synfire.


Depending on who you ask, the significance of chord progressions is often overestimated. After working with Synfire for a while, you will notice how replacing Harmony affects the mood and listener experience of a composition or song. Sometimes it's subtle. Sometimes it's very noticeable, but it rarely makes or breaks a song. Instrumentation, rhythm and arrangement also contribute their part. It's all of them together that make the music and neither can be judged in isolation.

This is why Music Prototyping is so priceless. It helps you judge your work from a comfortable distance, all components open to change at any time.