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Customizing chord progressions

I’m new, so maybe I missed it in my first read-through of the manual. The chord gadget doesn’t seem willing to let me have whatever chord I want. I understand that you are trying to force-feed what “sounds good” but hey, folks, that’s how pop music became the overcompressed, generic pablum it is today.

Example: I was trying to enter a chord progression I had composed earlier, and I couldn’t get the software to allow it. The progression is: C, Fm, Em, G, F, Em, Dm, C. I tried doing it in C major, and had a go at Fm, but in each case it wouldn’t offer me the chords I wanted. This is a terrifying development to think that songwriting software would try to censor my desires to explore unusual chord progressions! Is there a way to just enter the desired chords and go from there?

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You could always use the node field to specify chord progressions directly. Here are 13 songs that use C - Fm. (There are 2 more if you use Y4 or C4 instead of b4.)

If Em cannot be found out of these songs, then certainly there is not a single song in this database which uses this progression; in fact there are no songs that even use Em - G - F - Em. (Technically speaking, the Trends API includes only about 89% of the songs on this site, and one must perform dozens more searches to confirm that the same progression does not occur in Theorytabs using modes other than Major.) This site has no responsibility to ensure that any given progression has a corresponding song in the database, it is the job of Hookpad users to contribute where they see fit.

Goldenskyhook, I feel your pain.

HetzDevil, you don’t really respond to the original question. You say “This site has no responsibility to ensure that any given progression has a corresponding song in the database” but what he’s asking is why can’t we create any progression we want using the hookpad tool? This has nothing to do with hooktheory site at large.

Many songs will have passing chords that do not fit into the piece’s key (not to mention actual key changes).

The question is: is there any workaround for this? If not the tool is very handicapped for no apparent reason…

There is no such thing as a “chord gadget” on Hooktheory. The search panel is called the Trends page, the chord interface in the Hookpad editor is called a “Palette”, so if it turns out the original author refers to the palette, the Fm chord would only be accessible by borrowing chords from other modes. The original post reads as if complaining the lack of the I - iv - iii - … progression in this database, but in the other case, every minor chord can be accessed in Hookpad, even some enharmonic equivalents; it is apparent that neither of you read the part of the documentation that covers non-diatonic chords in Hookpad for calling the editor “handicapped” or “censoring one’s desires”.

Depending on the current key and mode here are 4 examples of inserting the progression in Hookpad:

  • D Major: (Minor 7) - (Locrian 3) - 2 - 4 - (Minor 3) - 2 - (Minor 1) - (Minor 7) b7.C3.2.4.b3.2.b1.b7
  • C Lydian: 1 - (Minor 4) - 3 - 5 - (Dorian 4) - 3 - (Dorian 2) - 1 4.Y7.6.1.b7.6.b5.4
  • C Major: 1 - (Minor 4) - 3 - 5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1 1.b4.
  • C Mixolydian: 1 - (Phrygian 4) - (Major 3) - (Major 5) - 4 - (Major 3) - 2 - 1 5.b1.L7.L2.1.L7.6.5

I did find a workaround. I still maintain that the entire concept of having software to suggest what “sounds good” with a certain chord progression or melody is a subtle form of censorship (for lack of a better term.) The most valuable way to learn anything is to make as many mistakes as possible, to experiment and fail a LOT. That’s why a lot of “new” music leans heavily on dissonance, loudness, and sometimes downright noise (i.e. punk.) In every case where a “new” style has come to pass, it began by exploring chords and melodies that were downright painful to listen to sometimes. Invariably, this goes by the wayside as ear fatigue sets in, but the new sounds are always advised by and rooted in those early experiments.

I don’t regret using my own coined term “chord gadget” to describe what I was talking about. I don’t care at all what’s in your database, I just wanted an easy way to lay out chord progressions for my already existing works, and I couldn’t (at first" find out how to do that without having to do a major workaround. I can see how your app could be helpful to someone who already knows what they want to play, as a transcription tool, but as a learning tool for beginners? Kind of scary.

We’re always expanding Hookpad to add more functionality, but there’s no doubt that Hookpad is geared towards conventional Harmony.

If you want to write atonal jazz, this probably isn’t the tool for you (yet), but for the vast majority of musical styles based on western harmony it makes accessing even the most complex harmonies easier (whether you’re a beginner or advanced composer). I disagree that it’s dangerous for beginners. Theres no harm in learning “the rules” before you break them, and in fact having a strong foundation in standard practice gives perspective and wisdom if/when you want to experiment with alternative forms.



Yeah it’s really kind of ridiculous that there isn’t an option to add chords from outside of the key

E.G. the Beatles used minor IV chords all the time.

I purchased Hook Pad because I thought it would be a great tool to quickly sketch out chord progressions; first to use to duplicate examples in music theory lessons; and then later for my own compositions.

Due to the rather absurd limitations of what chords a user can place in a progression…

This tool is quickly becoming useless to even duplicate music theory lessons.

Buyer remorse; to put it mildly.

I thought the “borrow from” option might help with this; but nope…

I request the developers remedy this ASAP:
LET the USER insert ANY chord they wish to.

This could be fixed by just adding option in changing the key:
Change just the key of the chords you are selecting from
Change the key of the entire composition.

It shouldn’t be hard to retain the latter option even when chords outside of the key are added:
the app would just transpose all the chords in the composition.

Hello! You can just ‘borrow’ a 4 chord from the Minor scale, it will result in a minor 4, or F minor. You can also use the ‘Search’ feature, which will give you any chord you search for in its absolute or relative name. :+1:

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The minor 4 chord is easily possible with Hookpad. Here is an example: “Minor 4 chord example” by jackscores01 - Made With Hookpad.

You can also borrow many different chords and also create slash chords/other stuff. Here is a song that is a good example: Continuum Main Title (Extended Version) by Jeff Danna Chords, Melody, and Music Theory Analysis - Hooktheory

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“You can also use the ‘Search’ feature, which will give you any chord you search for in its absolute or relative name.”


sincere gratitude

I see.

sincere gratitude

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