Normally, you play chords using the numeric keypad, in whatever other performance panel you have selected for the melody, and you don't have to look at the Chords performance panel. The Chords pane is used to control the settings used for playing the chords.
This panel can't be selected by using a function-key. You have to press the Num-Lock key twice (or click on its tab) to select it.
Some of the parameters for controlling how the chords are played, nevertheless, are very important.
For example, the loudness (velocity, or volume) should usually be less than the loudness of the melody, to avoid overpowering the tune.
Also, the choice of instrument used in playing the chords is important. If you like a sustained chord sound, like an orchestral accompaniment, an instrument sound like “String Ensemble 1” might be a good choice (and is one I like to use). On the other hand, you might want a more crisp sound, like guitar, piano, or mandolin.
It is also a good idea to use a different MIDI channel for the chords panel than you use in the melody performance panels. If you use the same MIDI channel for the chords, and play a melody note that is also a note in the chord, when you let-up on that melody note, it also shuts-off that same note of the chord. If a different MIDI channel is used for the chords, such 'collisions' won't happen.
One other reason for having a Chords performance panel, is that it can be instructive in showing you the notes played when you select a chord on the numeric keypad.
Regardless what settings you use in a performance panel used for playing the melody, the Chords performance panel settings are used for playing the chords selected on the numeric keypad.
The notable exception to this rule, is that any transposition setting you make in the Chords pane, is ignored when another performance pane is visible. The transposition settings of the visible melody performance pane are always used instead.
Here is a picture of the Chords performance panel, with a chord (selected by the numeric keypad) currently playing:
In the example above, the Chords performance panel is visible, so its transposition does apply.
In this example, I selected a B minor 7th chord, then pressed the Play key.
You see by the notes indicated above, that 1st, 3rd, 5th, and 7th intervals of the chord are present. The natural-signs (indicating two notes not normally present in the key-signature) are present because of it being a minor 7th chord, which has a minor 3rd, and a minor 7th.
If I had simultaneously played a “D” or an “A” anywhere else on the keyboard, it would also have been made a natural (rather than a sharp, as the key-signature stipulates). This is because playing a chord will introduce accidentals into the melody as well.
Notice that all of the MIDI controls affecting the volume (velocity, volume, and expression) are set at 88, where in the melody performance panels, I would have them set at 96, 114, or perhaps higher. This way, the chords don't overpower the melody, except if you play the melody on the Chords performance panel, in which case, the same settings as the chords are applicable. Be aware that some instrument sounds are naturally louder than others.
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