Reason Studios Chord Sequencer Review


Reason Studios Chord Sequencer: What is it?

To be a successful electronic musician, you don’t necessarily need to be a talented “musician” in the traditional sense.

However, unless you are working in the deepest depths of noise, at some point you may need to understand the basics of writing melodies and progressions. That’s why a whole genre of pre-made MIDI plugins, guides, and packs have emerged lately, aimed at helping producers navigate their way through the basics.

Chord Sequencer, from the developer formerly known as Propellerhead, is the latest entrant in this market. Launched as a rack add-on for Reason and included in the Reason+ subscription, it’s a MIDI playback device aimed at helping producers go beyond their chord progressions. It does this by offering a variety of genre-themed “chord sets”: collections of 16 themed chords around different genres and moods. There are 50 sets included, containing a total of 900 chords.

The crucial difference between these sets and some other similar plugins, is that they are created by real musicians, instead of being programmatically generated around a common scale or chord progression. As a result, the chords in a given set do not necessarily adhere to a certain scale or key, but rather are selected based on genre and mood.

Reason Studios Chord Sequencer

(Image credit: Reason Studios)

Reason Studios Chord Sequencer: Performance and Verdict

The 16 chords are mapped to a grid of virtual pads and can be triggered from a MIDI keyboard or assigned to a MIDI controller. It uses a neat color-coding system to help users choose chords, where different shades of green show the relevance of other chords to the last played. Again, these assignments are based on style as much as standard theoretical rules, so the results are often more interesting than those of simpler chord triggering tools.

In addition to triggering chords via MIDI, as the name suggests, the plugin includes a simple drag-and-drop sequencer that allows users to create, record, and trigger full chord progressions. There are also controls for adding swing, as well as humanizing speed and timing.

Its single focus means it can be truly inspiring

Chord Sequencer is an interesting twist on the automatic chord generation format, and its unique focus on musically interesting “sets” means it can be truly inspiring. It’s not perfect though – the sets seem a bit scattered, with big gaps in the genre list and the occasional vague name (“Heads in Clouds”).

It is also currently a rack only extension and requires Reason to be running. Reason itself can now be used as a plugin in another DAW, you can use Chord Sequencer easily with any 3rd party tool or hardware, but that’s obviously limited. A VST version would be nice. It also means that the £64 price tag seems quite high.

MusicRadar’s verdict: A unique version of the increasingly popular “chord generator” format, albeit slightly limited by its Rack Extension format.

Reason Studios Chord Sequencer: Hands-On Demos

Reason Studios

Jeff Gibbons

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Matthew Stuart

Reason Studios Chord Sequencer: Specifications

  • MAIN CHARACTERISTICS: Reason Rack Extension equipped with 50 “sets” of chords. Also available as part of a Reason+ subscription for €19.99 per month.
  • CONTACT: Reason Studios (opens in a new tab)

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