Polyphony in Hookpad should be available to everyone

This post came about from me seeing Inventive City as analyzed by @sazandora.

Polyphony should be available to free users. That is what I’m wishing for. This is entirely for the ease of transcribing melodies, accuracy, and the use of workarounds in the past and present that really show off the demand for the feature.

For example, in The Heritors of Arcadia in the solo, the first four bars consist of 3 8th notes and a 2-note dotted-quarter note chord. If I wished to accurately transcribe this, I would put in both notes of the chord. However, because I’m a free user, I’m blocked off from accurately transcribing the melody because of the lack of polyphony.

Inventive City is another song that can’t be accurately analyzed with only one melody voice. The melody in the verse has a very prominent lower voice that can’t be transcribed normally. With polyphony, now the tab is more accurate to the original song, and could provide some insight to what the lower melody could be doing in the song.

Red Swan has a repeating piano section introduced in the intro to the song, along with a choral background part. Because I’m limited to a single voice, I’m unable to transcribe either the piano chords, or the choral part, with the latter’s analysis being awkwardly incorporated into the chords. In the verse. the transition from the end of the main verse melody to a repeat of the intro piano/choral part is awkward, with the main melody being transcribed as a 2 bar-long high note and the piano part being put into the chord structure.

Crimson in the Black Sea ~ Legendary Fish as analyzed by @HertzDevil has polyphony, but dates back to 2014. Then, they used a glitch in an old version of Hookpad 1 where negative rests allowed for polyphony with only one voice, letting polyphonic tabs be submitted to the Theorytab database because the tab technically has only one voice. If glitches were needed to have polyphony, a feature that can be used for free in so many other music programs, in Hookpad and Theorytab, that should indicate that at least some people what polyphonic tabs in Theorytab, at least.

Love Live Sunshine S2 - WONDERFUL STORIES, also analyzed by @HertzDevil, was submitted in January of 2018, when Hookpad 2 was slowly being developed and Theorytab was still on Hookpad 1. Because of the lack of polyphony in Theorytab, HertzDevil often linked to polyphonic versions of the songs they analyzed, such as this link to the chorus section with all voices intact. As of September 29, 2018, the chorus tab shows all four voices being used and displayed in the Theorytab page, however I think this is a side-effect of the recent update for Theorytab to Hookpad 2, similar to how lyrics were displaying in Theorytab.

What should this wall of text of a thread mean to you? It should mean that there is demand for publicly available polyphony, as shown by the various tabs I’ve linked to above. It would help with accuracy for many songs, and allow for even causal users to use polyphony for when they need it.

If it weren’t for this post I would not even have noticed that it was the Hookpad 1 player that hides the extra voices rather than the transfer itself that removes the extra voices.

It appears even the mixing is preserved. This is definitely good news for Plus users as it means I am free to delete my local drafts and not have to manually copy the entire tab to the public version.

It appears I forgot to answer why I insist on submitting polyphonic tabs using Hookpad 1.8 instead of the “draft” version which takes away the extra voices and the mixer settings.

Sometimes the countermelody is of equal, or even greater importance to the melody. This can happen if for example there is little or no accompaniment; the countermelody provides the harmonic context more than Hookpad’s invented chord track does. Take the instrumental section of this tab for instance. Towards the end is a chromatic descent using several non-trivial chords. Why aren’t they a constant sequence of dominant seventh chords? Why do the inverted minor chords show up there? It is because the first measure repeats itself a minor third lower in the next measure. The iii6 chord locally behaves like a Phrygian cadence, while the i6 brings the song back to the home key. This information would be unavailable without the countermelody track.

Other times, it is simply because the countermelody is easy to transcribe, and adds extra color to the analysis. Not just classical music, but early video game music also has few voices without other accompaniment (including the instrumental section above). In these cases, only the melody, countermelody, and bass are present in the original song; if the countermelody track were muted, the remaining voices would sound empty and have trouble forming chords on their own.

More recently, I have been interested in how human voices structure harmony in contemporary music. They are expected to fit inside a pitch range smaller than many musical instruments, because this helps listeners remember the melodies and reduces strain on the singers themselves too. The supplementary voices may go below, above the melody, in both ways, or stretch across multiple notes; I think this tab illustrate those possibilities nicely. The countermelody may even cross the melody, such as in this tab. Instead of being always spaced a third or a fourth against the melody, they could also reinforce the song’s harmony, like the chorus here: small details that explain how the voices “resonate” with the music. And when you have enough voices, they can overlap in a myriad of ways, like this or the OP’s Wonderful Stories example. They are an integral part to popular music, which the Hooktheory books focus on, and definitely worth studying or analyzing.

Hookpad is unique among not just music theory analysis tools but DAWs in general, in that it provides a diatonic piano roll editor. This makes intervallic relations between interdependent voices more prominent than a chromatic piano roll could achieve. The best way to take advantage of that is to permit the use of such intervals in the first place; in fact, if the Hooktheory books are to ever touch on multi-part writing, it is hard to imagine Hookpad still locking the extra tracks away from the readers of the book. The main reason I submit those polyphonic tabs, therefore, is to reinforce the view that these extra voice tracks do play an important role in harmonic analysis.


Just chiming in to say that I agree with the above. At the very least, having 2 voices would be a major improvement over what we currently have.

Some more examples for the countermelody argument. Bear in mind I very much go for accuracy and use TheoryTab as a basis for piece arrangement.

The Heritors of Arcadia

The song starts off with a discordant chord that I was never able to figure out. If I had multiple voices to use, I could have outlined the chord with the melody voices, tweaked them until they were correct, then found a chord that accurately names it. I could not do this, so I was forced to approximate with a iio7b5, never knowing the actual chord. This applies to the last chord in the outro, also.

The bridge has vocal chords sitting on top of a piano melody. Granted this is a simple melody, but if I were to (undesirably) notate this in the chords, it would have made the notation messy when it was a simple VI-VII-V-i7 progression.

The solo contains an arpeggiated piano chord counter melody outlining the chords underneath a high piano note. This piano arpeggio then changes throughout bars 5-8, adding in 16th notes, which made it difficult for me to arrange this specific piece. From bars 9 onward, There are 3 primary voices: A guitar solo, a bass line, and high strings providing chords. I was unable to notate the bass line at all.

The preoutro, in bars 7-8, have a high string countermelody that is not notated at all. The tab throughout has a high string countermelody that is not represented in the tab.

SSBU - Bomb Rush Blush

The verse has a bass line that is best notated as another voice in the melody. The chords are not notated for the first 8 measures because a subbass for the rest of the tab gives the root. This subbass does not appear in the first 8 measures. There are also various cut-ins within this section that are not in the tab. Some examples are the descending cromaticism in measure 7, and the brass hits in the measures 9-16.

The prechorus has a countermelody synth over the vocal melody that is not notated in the tab, and some ornamentation in measures 6-8.

The chorus has a similar countermelody synth on top of the vocal melody.

The chorus lead-out has a messy 9-14 as I try to notate both the chromatic melody rise, and the bass line. This bass line is very much not meant to be a progression of i-III-iio-bii chords, only the roots. Measures 15 to the end also has a countermelody synth, brass hits, and a root-only subbass.

Il Vento d’Oro

The chorus tab is a piano part that is very hard to transcribe on a monophonic Hookpad. There are additional notes under the melody that act as chords; I’ve approximated this with the chords. The strings in the second half also notably have a lower note/different part than what the vocal part is singing. This is impossible to transcribe with 1 voice.

The Lamentations Known Only by Jizo

Throughout the chorus, there is a guitar-chime counter melody. along with a moving bassline. The latter half has countermelody about an octave above the main melody, notated as such here.

Last Train Home

The latter half has a soft piano underneath, which is not notated in the tab.

The Field of Hopes and Dreams

Throughout this song, there is the problem of chords in the melody not notated into the tabs because of the voicing limitation, mainly with the 8th-note main melody having a descending lower voice whenever it appears.

The intro has a repeating dotted quarter-eighth motif that is not notated in places because of a main melody overriding it.

The outro’s last half omits the main melody completely in favor of the piano arpeggios.


The song has the same problems as above, where the melody has chords not notated in the tab.

The chorus has a string countermelody and synth arpeggios not notated.

The outro has a countermelody following underneath the synth brass melody not in the tab, and string chords.

You Will Know Our Names

The second half of the intro has a string countermelody notated instead of the melody.

The second half of the verse has a similar situation: A string countermelody given priority over the actual melody.

Red Swan

The intro has piano chords and a choral countermelody not in the tab.

The verse has a choral part in the last 8 measures that is not in the tab.

The chorus has vocal chords not notated.

Lucid Dreamer

The verse has sections where melody chords are audible but not in the tab.

The chorus has a saxophone countermelody not in the tab.

Nightmare Diary

The brass in the chorus has a second voice not notated.

Twilight of the Gods

Because of the orchestral nature of this piece, there are many locations where some parts aren’t represented in the tabs.

The intro has a flute, horn, and piano part not in the tab. The verse has a horn melody not notated. The prechorus and chorus choral part has additional voices not in the tab.

Return to Nifl

Another orchestral piece where many chords in the melody are only represented by the top/main voice.

The chorus has ornamental from high winds not in the tab, and a low string run in measure 13.

The outro also has ornamentals not in the tab such as a flute starting in measure 4, the string melody in measures 1-2 repeating throughout the tab, and an echoing piano starting measure 9.

Strawberry Crisis

The main 8th-note melody has voices not notated in the tab.

I think that’s enough examples for now.

i9: C# in bass, B-D#-E in treble.