Sometimes it feels like cheating

Chord machine on M:C is one of the most innovative and useful features ever included in a piece of gear. It can get crazy cacophonic at times, but when you get it dialed in just right it is extremely effective, it can make a typical groovebox beat sound legit professional.
To put it another way, it makes me sound like I know what I’m doing. And I’m not complaining about that, but idk how I should feel about it. I had the minimum 3 years piano lessons required in my family as a kid, so I know my way around keyboard basics, but I don’t know anything about theory, modes, inversions, voicings, etc. With the M:C sometimes I’m just goofing off with Chord and poof! It’s like I composed something. Add a few bars to the sequence, throw in some chance/probability and I feel like I could host a wine tasting and tell the guests I have a jazz band playing in the other room.
Like I said I’m not complaining. I love the M:c, love chord machine. It just sometimes makes me sound well above my skill level/comprehension. I guess all music tech does, in a way, but rarely do you find a feature that adds this much depth to tracks.


I don’t know anything about music. At all.

I don’t know what a C sounds like, or any other note.

And yet I can still make music.
Granted, if I sat at a piano or if you gave me a flute, I ain’t making music with it, but then you could give my modular or my Lyra, or even my M:C to a concert pianist and they’d probably struggle.

For the music I make, I know what I need to know. It almost seems odd to me to learn all the theory when so much gear does it for you anyway.


Innovative? Hmm, I’d argue that Arturia (and maybe some other companies) got there first with the MicroFreak. Useful and beautiful? Hell yes! I still use some Chord machine samples I took from M:C before I sold it. And on your point about it feeling like cheating, imagine if Elektron added the ability to set musical scales on the trigs of the M:C too :exploding_head:

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Do you feel the same about using Samples from others? I always felt like using Samples was some kind of a cheat until I discovered the Octatrack.

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Microfreak uses Mutable Instruments Plaits’ open source code


There you go then. Far from innovative. Still, it’s implemented excellently on the M:C :slight_smile:

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I like the idea of chord mode a lot, but in practice I’m finding a few limitations:

  • It’s hard to navigate between the chords in a musical way
  • Locking chords is kind of awkward
  • The timbres really don’t cut through a mix unless you force it with DIST or just crank the track volume

Note that I’ve only had my M:C for like 4 weeks, so it’s probably just lack of chops on my part.

Chord is the machine I’ve used the least in the m:c in the year and change that I’ve had it. It’s cool and can yield great results but I find it tedious to program. I wish there was an alternate mode for it where you could just choose whatever three notes you wanted on a step rather than scrolling through the list of chords and inversions to lock them. It just interrupts the flow. That being said, I really like a lot of what I end up with when I knuckle down and use it. Choppy organ funk, washed out ghostly witch house chords, soft pulsing trip hop stuff, etc


Thanks for all the responses, maybe “innovative” was the wrong word, your right it’s all about the implementation.
I wasn’t big on Chord at first either. It’s almost my favorite now. It’s still tricky sometimes but I LOVE it in the higher register, the way you can make that mid range poke out of the mix with Sweep, short decay drenched in reverb, just on the offbeat…dubs like Lee Scratch Perry.
It’s my first elektron box (though I lusted after Rytm & Digitone, monomachine, machinedrum). I have not used the Model Samples, no GAS for it, didn’t strike me as too much more than a beefed up Volca Sample. I have that and an old OP-1 and an even older MV8000 so I’ve sampled and re-sampled plenty.

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That’s a good idea going all scratch perry with it. Actually, the m:c is well suited to a standalone 80s style digital-dub machine. Get your sleng teng riddim on!

Yeah, the Korg EMX1 (whenever that came out) had an awesome ‘chord synth’ pretty much same thing as on the Model Cycles.

I dont think its cheating to use what’s available to you. Simply using the machine isnt going to mean good music comes out, you still have to apply some skill and artistry.