Managing Chord Inversions

When playing the palette or any progression, you may have noticed that in Chords-Only mode, HN2 and Synfire do not play every chord in root position, as one might expect. Instead it often comes up with an inversion of the chord. Why is this?

HN2 automatically selects an inversion that best fits the instrument’s pitch range (aka: Playing Range) and provides the smoothest transition from the previously played chord. It also avoids minor seconds and does a few other things to ensure a smooth overall progression.

It is generally not advisable to play all chords in root position, because this would lead to hefty pitch leaps and rough transitions between chords. Also, for instruments with a limited pitch range (or instruments that sound best in a narrow pitch range), a progression in its entirety may not even fit into the range, or sound awkward.

Usually a musician chooses inversions manually, judging the overall listener experience by ear. In an environment where you experiment with chords and keys a lot, you do not want to spend much time figuring out chord inversions. That’s why HN2 does this for you according to your sound preferences (playing ranges).


After you’ve found your chords, in order to force a particular inversion, you can do the following:

(A) Change the ‚Typical Pitch‘ and overall range of the instrument’s playing ranges (Interpretation parameter). This will re-compose the entire progression with different inversions that best match this range setting.

(B) Enable the ‚Inversions‘ switch of the Interpretation parameter and select an inversion per each chord in the progression: Press 1, 2, 3, or 4 to select a bass note. The bass note also determines chord inversion, if the above mentioned switch is on. 



HN2 LE uses a simplified single-instrument model for progressions. There you can make all the above adjustments right from the front panel of the application. For HN2 Advanced and Synfire, please go to the instrument inspector in the Song window (Synfire: Arrange) and make your adjustments from there.



HN2 LE with its simplified model also allows you to attach Pitch Hints to each chord in a progression, that will nudge the inversion up or down a bit to achieve a different inversion on an ad-hoc basis (SHIFT + Up/Down Arrows). Note however, that these hints are pointless in Synfire, once you have multiple instruments, each of which would respond differently to the hints, as all their playing ranges differ. 


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