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The 6 Best Chord Progression Generators for Quick Inspiration

The 6 Best Chord Progression Generators for Quick Inspiration

Are you getting tired of using the same chords and chord progressions over and over? One way to quickly inspire new ideas is with a chord progression generator.

Not all music producers have strong piano skills or music theory knowledge. That’s okay! You don’t necessarily need these skills to make good music.

And while taking time to learn about chords and chord progressions can be a super useful lifelong practice, chord progression generators can help kickstart your creativity.

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Arguably they can also help with learning about how different chord progressions work and give you an idea of what to learn next.

What is a chord progression generator?

Chord progression generators use MIDI data to create chord progressions based on various music theory rules.

While chord progression generators remove the need for users to have a strong grasp of music theory or keyboard skills, even advanced producers use them to quickly find inspiration and test out chord progression ideas.

Having a chord progression generator in your plugins folder (even a pack of free MIDI chords) is a super great way to stay inspired and keep exploring various corners of music theory.

If you’re curious about incorporating chord progression generators into your music-making workflow, here’s the 6 best chord progression generators available right now!

Preview of youtube video

1. ChordJam Lite

Get ChordJam Lite

ChordJam Lite is an incredibly versatile chord progression generator that opens up so many avenues for creative expression.

It offers tons of settings that you can control with its intuitive and easy-to-use interface.

Out of all the chord progression generators on the market, this one is definitely a cut above the rest.

Whether you’re looking for chord progressions in a specific key, scale, mode or style you’ll find tons of ideas and inspiration.

The best part is it works with single-note input, so you only need to tap in a single-note melody to start finding ideas and a creative direction.

It also works as a very powerful arpeggiator with deep control over each arpeggio pattern, chord and even velocity values for each note in the arpeggio.

Out of all the chord progression generators on the market, this one is definitely a cut above the rest.

2. Ableton Live

While Ableton Live is best known as a DAW, it’s designed in particular for creation and inspiration.

Aside from its many stock VST instrument plugins, it also has some pretty impressive chord and scale functionality that make it easy to start generating interesting chord progressions.

It’s especially powerful when paired with its companion DAW controller, the Ableton Push 2.

Push offers an incredibly intuitive tactile interface that can be mapped to scales and chords automatically.

It goes well beyond the chord generator category and can really be thought of as an instrument.

It’s especially powerful when paired with its companion DAW controller, the Ableton Push 2.

But even without Push, Ableton’s scale and chord modes offer great chord generation capabilities–especially if you consider the extensions Max for Live offers with its chord generator tool.

3. MIDI Chord packs

Get the MIDI Pack

Looking for something free that you can use right away? Try out some free MIDI chord packs.

They work as pre-generated chord progressions that you can drag and drop into a MIDI roll and play with any VST instrument.

There’s a ton of them available on the internet, and, we’ve put a handful of MIDI chord progression packs together ourselves.

So if your budget is limited (to free options), grab some MIDI chords and start playing with chord ideas in your DAW’s MIDI roll!

If your budget is limited (to free options), grab some MIDI chords.

4. Captain Chords Epic

For a truly professional option, Captain Chords Epic might be worth checking out.

From its genre-categorized chord progressions, intuitive workflow, rhythm generator and arpeggiator you can start creating some pretty interesting ideas really quickly.

It comes with settings to add complexity and velocity to your progressions and even its own sound library with preset sounds and controls for sound design.

If you have a MIDI keyboard you can also use it to control the chord generator’s output.

5. Xfer Cthulu

Xfer Cthulu is maybe one of the earliest and most legendary chord progressions generators.

It essentially works as a giant MIDI pack library with easy controls that make it easy to sift through and find interesting areas of inspiration.

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In particular, I thought its collection of Bach chorale-inspired MIDI packs was interesting for its classic, nostalgic sound.

Considering that it was designed in collaboration with EDM legend Deadmau5, this is an excellent option for producers in that genre that are comfortable working with old-school interfaces.

6. Chord Prism

Chord Prism is another chord generator with an interesting interface that presents creative chord options that are easy to use, manipulate and create with.

Its keyboard-centric design clearly shows exactly what chord the generator is set up to produce based on its parameters—key, chord progressions, voice leading options, chord playing effects and velocity.

It’s a pretty simple interface that offers a decent amount of control over the chords it’s generating, so if you’re looking for something simple and quick this could be your best bet.

Alex Lavoie

Alex Lavoie works as a staff writer at LANDR by day and moonlights as a drummer for folk-rock outfit The Painters.

@Alex Lavoie

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