Tags: posts polarity-music Chords Note-Grid Plugins Harmony-Theory

Review of VA Productions Ports Chord Progression Tool

Tutorial | Tue Jan 18 2022 00:00:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)

In this video, I reviewed the court version tool called Ports by VA Productions. I tried out the demo version and gave my impressions of it. I found that it was a nice starting point for inexperienced producers like myself, as it has a pool of chord shapes to select from. However, I found that it was largely a trial-and-error based plugin, with no real guide for constructing a good chord progression. I also noted that you can't see which notes are overlapping with the next chord, and that it would be nice to have a feature that lets you control the rhythm of the chord progression. In conclusion, I found Ports to be a useful tool, but it could benefit from some additional features.

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Questions & Answers

Maybe you dont watch the video, here are some important takeaways:

What is Ports by VA Productions and what does it do?

Ports by VA Productions is a court version tool that helps inexperienced producers create court versions. It allows producers to select chords and edit them in the middle for different versions, velocity, major or minor, etc. It also allows producers to see which notes are being played on the chord and to mute certain notes.

What is the benefit of using Ports by VA Productions?

The benefit of using Ports by VA Productions is that it provides a starting point for inexperienced producers to create court versions. It also allows producers to see which notes are being played and to mute certain notes, as well as to adjust the velocity and major/minor of the chords.

What are some drawbacks of Ports by VA Productions?

Some of the drawbacks of Ports by VA Productions include the fact that it does not provide any guidance or hints on how to construct a chord progression that sounds good or what the reason behind it is. Additionally, it cannot change the rhythm of the chord progression and it is completely try and error based, meaning that if the producer has no knowledge of functional harmony, they will have to try different chords until they find one that works.


This is what im talking about in this video. The text is transcribed by AI, so it might not be perfect. If you find any mistakes, please let me know.
You can also click on the timestamps to jump to the right part of the video, which should be helpful.

[00:00.000] Hey folks, welcome back to another video on this channel this time with the review of
[00:04.120] a court version tool and I know my last review of Insta Composer was kind of a mixed
[00:09.480] bag for some people because a lot of people watching this channel they know their stuff
[00:16.200] and yeah, but sometimes for inexperienced producers like I am, it's a nice starting point
[00:22.320] to create some court versions.
[00:24.520] And this one is nothing different and it's called Ports by VA Productions and I just
[00:30.720] downloaded the demo version today and I tried it out and played around a bit with it and
[00:35.600] I want to give you some impressions from it, what I think about it and yeah, let's start
[00:41.200] the video.
[00:42.200] This is how the plugin looks like here in Bitwig and I created an instance here on this
[00:47.400] track.
[00:48.400] The track is also a MIDI chord analyzer you can see which notes are being pressed here
[00:55.040] and also a polysynth and a reverb just to play back the chords.
[00:59.200] And this plugin works basically by just hitting play on the transport and you rotate around
[01:06.320] the circle here, right on each segment here of the circle here for chord, you can select
[01:16.240] these chords and in the middle you have some settings for the selected chord, you can
[01:25.720] change it in version, you can change here from subdominant, tonic and dominant chords
[01:32.040] where you can choose from and you can select different chord shapes, you can change the
[01:36.080] velocity, you can change between major and minor and you can see which chord is actually
[01:40.920] being played here.
[01:43.120] And I think this is a pretty great plugin actually to get you started with some chords when
[01:50.800] you have no idea what you are doing, you just have a small pool of chord shapes you can
[01:56.320] select from here and then you can see or hear or try and error your way up until you have
[02:02.960] a working chord progression.
[02:06.320] But in my opinion something is missing from this chord, we'll hear which would make it
[02:11.200] even better and like with most chord progression tools like also with scalar 2, I have my problems
[02:18.560] because it's always try and error, there's no real guide that gives you ideas of how
[02:26.280] to construct a chord progression that sounds good and what's actually the reason behind
[02:31.640] it, why it sounds good.
[02:33.400] So for instance, on this one here you can't change the rhythm of the chord progression,
[02:38.120] it's always this 3 or 4 bar loop divided into evenly sized sections right, so when you
[02:49.720] add your chords with the plus button you have 4 chords now or 5 chords, I think it goes
[03:00.400] up to 8, we have now 4 chords here and we play now the rhythm changed because you divide
[03:09.880] the 4 bar loop into 4 different chords.
[03:19.440] So the rhythm is pretty important for chord progression in general, the rhythm makes the
[03:25.560] music, it's pretty important.
[03:28.080] And of course this is more like meant to be some kind of starting point where you have
[03:32.920] to track out the chords to a note clip here and then you go into the note clip in the piano
[03:38.800] rule and you know it did it for yourself, where you think around you would sort of notes
[03:47.600] it, bring it up to the point you want to have it, but you know it would be nice to have
[03:53.280] actually hear some kind of sizing, grapples where you can drag this around and you know
[04:00.600] create some kind of different rhythm would be nice to have.
[04:06.160] Another thing or problem I have with this one is sure you see that you have your multiple
[04:13.440] notes in the chord and you can mute certain notes for each chord, but you can't see
[04:21.080] actually which kind of notes are overlapping with the next chord.
[04:26.040] So you don't see what's changing basically from this chord to this chord and it's also
[04:31.880] important sometimes so when you're dragging out this again, you can see this note and
[04:36.720] this note is the same, this is pretty important actually to see which gives you an indication
[04:44.400] of how a monic or how well this chord sounds with this one because if you have four notes
[04:55.080] and only one note is changing, this sounds pretty harmonic right away, just when I disable
[05:01.400] this here, as we play it, right, this sounds pretty harmonic and the more notes you change
[05:10.080] in each chord double here and the more this harmonics it sounds from this one more or less.
[05:20.240] So it would be nice to see actually which notes here are overlapping and which notes are
[05:33.360] changing from this to this for instance, right.
[05:37.080] And another problem is that it's completely try and error based.
[05:41.920] If you have no idea about harmony theory or functional harmony and you don't know what
[05:47.680] subdominance, what is it tonic, what's dominant, what's major and minor and all these things,
[05:56.720] you basically have to stick with just try and error, you have to pick certain dots here
[06:05.640] and then try and error your way up until you have a chord progression that sounds good
[06:15.760] for you.
[06:16.760] There's no guide, no hint or anything that lets you to a nice chord progression.
[06:23.640] It's the same with scalar 2 or with all the other chord progression tools on the market
[06:28.480] right now that they give you no hint, no idea, it's nothing to learn from this plug
[06:36.800] in.
[06:37.800] It's basically just click the dots and see what sticks.
[06:41.200] If you have a rough idea about functional harmony, you know exactly you have to start
[06:45.920] with the tonic and you're called progression maybe over the dominant and then you switch
[06:51.680] to a subdominant chord, then maybe do a tonic and then maybe we'll move this here.
[07:10.960] So basically now the tonic is your home, your dominant is basically way out there that
[07:18.360] brings in some unstable harmonies and then the subdominant is basically the middle man
[07:25.080] that you know makes a transition from tonic to dominant harmonic.
[07:32.400] So you have to pick basically a tonic or dominant first and then a subdominant in between.
[07:39.840] So this gives you basically kind of a functional working construct of chord progression but
[07:45.440] you have to know that there's no hint in this one here but you know you have to know it.
[07:57.960] And also these dots here work in this direction that you have on the lower side here, the lower
[08:04.560] dots are basically simple chords, simple chord shapes, probably just major in minor and
[08:11.520] then the more you go up, the more complex the chord gets which means the complexity
[08:18.120] means basically you add more notes and the more the harmonics or the synances in the
[08:25.960] chord itself.
[08:28.800] So if you stick to the bottom your chord progression sounds more simple but also pleasant, automatically
[08:36.480] more pleasant.
[08:39.360] But yeah, there's no hint of anything how to construct a chord progression in this
[08:44.640] tool.
[08:45.640] It would be nice to have actually this here maybe reflected in the interface gives you
[08:52.520] some idea about that.
[08:56.280] So yeah, let's construct something with this one here.
[08:58.960] So I would say for the first chord here we go with the tonic, the middle line here,
[09:10.920] here we go to this, the next chord, it would be maybe a subdomain, 3 you have to try an
[09:31.540] arrow you have basically switch between the chords and see if it progresses nicely.
[09:45.320] And then we switch here to a dominant.
[10:14.980] So yeah, switch basically from major to minor, but this is probably kind of nice so let's
[10:23.580] play this.
[10:30.020] So now comes the part with the rhythm because this sounds really boring rhythmically.
[10:40.780] Let's see, oh look it even exported here, four chords which is not right, so it's probably
[10:49.220] a bug.
[10:50.220] Oh no, it's actually exporting to the first chord again, okay I see, yeah it's the first
[11:05.040] chord.
[11:07.040] So now we have to stretch this out here to make this bit better, so maybe the tonic
[11:13.700] is a bit longer, maybe disable this here so we have only the notes in the clip, maybe
[11:30.020] this goes a bit earlier.
[11:40.120] So do you need this plug in at all, probably not, but it's nice, it's simple, it's easy
[11:46.080] to use and I think it's only 30 bucks on plug-in critique which you can buy over my link
[11:51.720] in the description below.
[11:54.800] You can also use just the piano roll if you don't have the money or don't want to spend
[11:59.060] the money on the plug-in, you can just use the piano roll, restrict yourself to some
[12:03.840] easy note movements from chord to chord and also learn along the way how to construct
[12:09.920] chord versions.
[12:11.800] So this is also a way of doing it right, it all depends on your mood, on your workflow
[12:17.960] and how you look at things and sometimes you have no idea what to do so you need a tool
[12:24.120] and you whip out the tool and you play around with it with simple chord versions, flash
[12:29.080] it out afterwards in the piano roll and yeah I create this song this way, so there are
[12:34.720] multiple ways of doing things, it's not one way or the other, I see a lot of comments
[12:39.960] actually on my videos when people tend to say, well that's not how you do it, well you
[12:48.360] have multiple ways of doing things and up and down to all sides basically, so it's all
[12:56.080] about experimentation and trying out new things in different ways, looking at things.
[13:02.760] So that's it for this video, thanks for watching, please leave a thumbs up if you liked the
[13:06.720] video, subscribe to the channel and I would say I see you in the next one, thanks for
[13:11.320] watching, bye.