Open Your Harmonic Options: the J74 Progressive MFL Device


    If you are like me, it’s easy to fall into track-writing rut. When this happens for me, it’s because I find myself starting with the same old chords in the same old order – and thus everything falls into the same old line. This seems like the kind of thing a ‘creative’ device could help alleviate; and I think I’ve found a new friend in the J74 Progressive device.
    J74 Progressive starts pretty simply: you select a key and scale, then choose a set of chord changes (with tags like “Dreamy”, “Return 3” or “TwelveBlues”). The system generates a Live clip on the current track with the changes that you requested. Click on a “Start/Stop Clip” button and you can immediately check the result. From there, you can explore options like voicing changes (addition of lower notes, 7ths, spread voicings or skipped primary notes). These simple tweaks add flavor to the track, which can be further enhanced by arpeggiating the chordal notes or even strumming them guitar-style.
    If you decide to work with the result, there’s nothing more to do: you have notes on a Live clip, so edits, instrument selection and even MIDI effect manipulation are all in play. But if you want to work more on the clip, you can alter note options (length, velocity and start-point variations, for example), play with chord construction/substitution choices or even remap the chord changes entirely. This device acts like a harmony construction kit, and the deeper you get into it, the more interesting options you can find.
    The device is implemented as a simple (and small) MIDI device with several pop-up windows for editing. The main window – called the Clip Progression – is the place where you provide all the basic rules for harmony generation. Other windows either provide opportunity for analyzing and altering the output of the device, or providing information about harmonic development (sometimes interactively, like the Circle of Fifths option, and sometimes statically, like the Progression Chart).
    J74 Progressive also includes a few devices that provide audio analysis and chord detection to can help you learn more about the tracks you already have available. The many available options could be overwhelming, but this problem is mitigated by the incredible set of 13 video tutorials that J74 (Fabrizio Poce) has put together for the device. Combining the videos with clear help windows and a comprehensive manual, you will find yourself slinging out new tracks within minutes of installing this device into your Live set.

    • Jan 25 2017 | 8:31 pm
      Looks super cool! Just bought it and can't wait to try it out...
    • Jan 25 2017 | 8:40 pm
      This device is the most awesome thing ever. I've been working on something similar, but it's a relief to jump ahead like this. I'm still exploring the possibilities...