Playing Palettes

How to navigate and make sense of a palette

Video Tutorial

Simply click on a chord in a Palette to schedule it for live playback. Drag any chord to a progression to insert it. Better yet, review, edit and drag off the Harmonic Context panel of the right sidebar.

There are two playback modes you can choose from.

Chords-Only Mode

  • Enable Playback > Chords-Only Mode to hear chords played with the Global Instrument 'Chords'.

  • Disable Playback > Sustain Palette Chords if you want the chord to stop once you release the mouse button. Otherwise it will be sustained until you schedule the next.

  • Enable Playback > Play Bass Instrument to hear the bass played with the Global Instrument 'Bass'.

Sketch Mode

Select a Sketch from the menu Playback > Sketches to render all chords with a real-time accompaniment.

Note: Always click on the next chord a short moment ahead of time, so Synfire gets a chance to prepare for the change. A few milliseconds are sufficient.

Transposition, Inversion And Voicing

In Chords-Only Mode you can control inversion and voicing of a chord to some extent by using the keyboard commands mapped to the Transform menu (open the menu to see).

Once a chord was added to a progression, there are two ways to transpose its sound.

  1. If an entire progression seems to be pitched too low or high, you should transpose or widen the middle Playing Range of the Global Instrument 'Chords'. Open Playback > Audio/MIDI Setup and edit the middle playing range of the 'Chords' instrument.

  2. If individual chords sound pitched wrong, you can edit Inversion, Voicing and Alignment in the Progression Editor or on the Harmony Lane. If you need to remove these edits from a progression again, do Transform > Reset Hints.

Important: Remember that it is up to the individual Instrument and the Interpretation parameter whether to obey the hints regarding inversion, voicing and alignment in a progression. The built-in interpretation for Chords-Only playback does so, but those your arrangements may not.

Trying Alternative Chords

While playing a palette you can use the Left or Right arrow keys to return to the previous chord or advance to the chord previously returned from (back and forth). Then you can try an alternative path starting from there.

The Harmonic Context panel on the right sidebar shows a back-trace of the three most recently played chords.

Highlighting Relationships

Select a chord to schedule it for playback. This highlights all scale steps used by the chord.
Drag a chord to any progression to insert it there.
Horizontal Scales
Select one or more scales to highlight chords that can be built from them exclusively.
Scale Steps
Select or more steps to highlight chords that include them.

Advanced Navigation

Using the Navigation menu, you can highlight in all open palettes the chords they have in common (Shared) or those they own exclusively (Distinct). This is helpful for finding a path to a key change (modulation).

Harmony (Outlet)
Drag the Notepad progression off to any destination, or drop a progression from elsewhere.

Locks current chord and scale selections while you continue playing.

MIDI Input
Highlight scale steps and chords according to MIDI input.
While responding to live MIDI input, also detect incoming chords.

Surfing Multiple Palettes

Open multiple palettes and play chords on them in any order. This is helpful if you want to compose a key change (modulation). Everything you play in one palette will be visualized on the other as seen from the perspective of that key.

Retrospective Recording

It is possible to call up the last played chord sequence at any time with Navigation > History .... This opens a Progression Editor where you can copy & paste the recorded chords.