Music Thing Modular have released an alternative firmware for the Music Thing Modular Radio Music module that transforms it into a polyphonic chord machine. The Chord Organ firmware update is free to all existing Radio Music owners and you can also buy a replacement panel for the front.
It’s tricky creating chords on a modular synth. You tend to be dealing with multiple mono sound sources. Tom Whitwell from Music Thing said that, inspired by a Bontempi Chord Organ, he just wanted an easy way to get some chords into his modular. Lots of old home keyboards were able to produce a chord in response to a single key press – that’s the experience he wanted to express in the Chord Organ module.
It doesn’t use samples like the Radio Music does, the chords are all synthesised. You choose your chord shape with the top knob; minor, major, 7th, augmented 5th (probably). In fact the chords are defined by a text file that you can edit on the SD card. They can have up to 8 notes with a root of anything from C-2 to C+2. The Waveform button selects one of the four available waveforms; sine, square, sawtooth and weirdness.
You can use a control voltage to change the chord and the root of the note. However, the CV input is not calibrated to 1v/oct so converting MIDI-to-CV into this might not work that well. But with an unscaled sequencer you should be able to pick out the right chords.
The Chord Organ is a great and simple way to add some chords to your modular sound. It’s in a small space and can double as a sample playing with the Radio Music firmware. The only downside is having to redetermine the chord types you’re going to use – it’s not a polyphonic oscillator, it’s a chord generator. It’s only available as a kit and costs just £80 which makes it a very attractive little module if you’re ok with a bit of soldering.
More information has yet to appear on the Music Thing website but you can find details on Tom Whitwell’s blog.