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Harmony preview


In a library it is possible to have phrases that only contain the harmony parameter (nice), and it is possible to play back such progressions (even better) simply by pressing the play button. However, the chords then played can be incomplete, e.g., instead of a tetrad a mere octave may be played at times. By contrast, when clicking on these chords then the full chord sounds.

Also, between clicking a harmony and it actually playing the chord back there may be a pause, and such pauses can be of different length (felt sometimes > 1 sec). I guess the system has to calculate there some harmonic context, voice leading and what not. Anyway, when playing the same chords individually several times, this waiting time *can* be greatly reduced.

BTW: In the Progression tab I could not find a way to get such harmony preview playing to work.

Main question: what is the recommended way to preview mere chord progressions, i.e. the underlying harmony without the figures?


Wed, 2022-11-02 - 18:20 Permalink

The harmony preview should "just work". Can you attach an example so I can investigate?

I noticed strange delays lately, too. Also the playhead display seems lagging behind the music very often. I don't remember there have been such delays in earlier versions.

Wed, 2022-11-02 - 19:38 Permalink

Thanks a lot for reacting so quickly to my questions!

Attached is an example arrangement with only a single progression in both the project and the embedded library, and nothing else.

I can in principle preview the progression in the library, but then notes are missing.

I can click on individual chords, but then there are irregular delays until a chord is played.

I don't know how to preview a progression in the Progression tab.

Thu, 2022-11-03 - 11:43 Permalink

Ok I see. 

Preview ties all sustained notes, so if only 2 notes change and 1 is sustained, you may think only 2 are playing when in fact all 3 are still playing. This is more obvious with a sustained sound, but if you use piano for chords, you will only hear the onsets of new notes.

Thu, 2022-11-03 - 12:31 Permalink

Ah, thanks for the helpful feedback. So, you are saying that for previewing chord progressions one basically must use some sustained sound. OK, that might be a workaround (though it is a bit stange that this is necessary).

How to preview chords in the in the Progression tab, though? Did I perhaps overlook something? I can only preview progressions in libraries it seems.

Thu, 2022-11-03 - 12:46 Permalink

Use the preview (headphones) transport button.

In Preferences you can change the tied notes behavior (a default setting for auto-chords).

Thu, 2022-11-03 - 12:48 Permalink

OK, I now switched the global chords instrument to a sustained sound, and that reduces problems, but does not fully solve them. If I start the playback of a progression at the beginning, then indeed all tones sound, but if I start it somewhere in the middle, then only the new tones that change for the chord in question are played.

I personally think that it would be helpful if at a chord onset all tones of a chord in a progression would be played, and if this would be the default (more standard and predictable) behaviour. The current behaviour might be still a special case that users can somehow enable, but as a default it feels problematic to me.

Considering how central chord progressions are for Synfire, I feel the playback of mere progressions (without figures) should indeed "just work" as you say, and not only work for certain special cases. Just my 2 Euro cent...

Thu, 2022-11-03 - 12:52 Permalink

> In Preferences you can change the tied notes behavior (a default setting for auto-chords).

Ah, great! That indeed resolves this problem. Thanks a lot. Perhaps by default this should be ticked off?

Thu, 2022-11-03 - 12:56 Permalink

> Use the preview (headphones) transport button.

Thank you, I missed that one. My fault.

Anyway, it seems the preview always starts from the very beginning. Is there perhaps also some way to start from some later point in time (the orange "play cursor" position seems to be ignored by the preview playback, and so is any selection of chords it seems). Considering that harmonic rhythm is often slow, having a playback that always starts at the beginning can be a bit annoying for this use case.

Anyway, great to have at least the preview that starts from the beginning.

Thu, 2022-11-03 - 13:00 Permalink

BTW: For phrases in the library with only the Harmony parameter, starting the preview at the yellow "play cursor" does work, so perhaps I am simply missing something for the progression tab.

Thu, 2022-11-03 - 15:52 Permalink

Auto-Chords with tied notes is the default, because the default "Chords" instrument is a sustained string section. Sifting through lots of progressions with "hammering" chords is extremely annoying and obfuscates actual pitch movements.

Harmony preview also uses this setting. Maybe it could have its own that is off by default. I'm a bit reluctant to adding too many settings.

I agree however that non-tied should be the default and anyone who's annoyed by it can disable it.

Thu, 2022-11-03 - 17:44 Permalink

I noticed strange delays lately, too

Found it. It was a dynamics plug-in in the MASTER slot of the global rack. Obviously this delayed audio output a lot. So not a Synfire issue actually, although it would be nice to compensate for this latency somehow.

Sun, 2022-11-06 - 11:48 Permalink

Was this a fix of your local setup, or are you saying that you disabled a master track plug-in loaded by default on all Synfire installations?

Anyway, it seems currently there are less delays on my system both when clicking chords in a progression and also with normal interactive MIDI playback (which often lagged a lot). Not sure though whether things are just better after a restart.  :scratch_head:



Sun, 2022-11-06 - 12:23 Permalink

Yes, it was with my local setup. An Ozone 10 dynamics plug-in on the MASTER module caused a huge delay.

Sun, 2022-11-06 - 18:56 Permalink

Update: After using Synfire for a while the irregular latency when clicking chords (can be 2 secs) is back.