How to Pitchbend a Chord on a Keyboard Perfectly Every Time

Have you ever tried to pitchbend a chord on a keyboard? It never works as you expect. Sometimes it would be great to transition from one chord to another gradually, like you can with single notes. But there’s a problem: you can’t bend a full chord with conventional synth pitchwheels because the same up/down range applies to every note. So usually the chord you end up bending to is out of key.

I’m about to get into some nerdy details, so some of you may want to skip right to the example to simply hear the yuckiness I’m referring to. Let’s say we’re in the key of C major. Bending a CMaj (C,E,G) chord up will produce DMaj (D,F#,A) which is out of key in this context. For this chord to bend in key, we need to bend up to Dmin (D,F,A). The second degree of the fingered chord (E) would need to be raised 1 semitone to F, rather than the 2 semitones required by the others.

Here’s an audio example of an attempt to bend triads in C Major using standard pitchbend:

Standard by Bill Jackson \m/

We decided to make this work a lot better in Z3TA+ 2. Here’s the same passage using Z3TA+ 2’s Adaptive Pitchbend:
Adaptive by Bill Jackson \m/

Adaptive Pitchbend is a new performance feature that’s exclusive to Z3TA+ 2 and we haven’t seen anything like it in other synths. It enhances the pitchwheel by dynamically adjusting the up/down range, per-voice, based on the scale you choose.

This feature not only helps with bending chords, but it also allows for more confidence when playing leads. As a guitar player, I tend to expect a bend to naturally land on the note I want. But when using a pitchwheel, I very often end up bending a semitone too high since the range is set to 2.  With Adaptive Pitchbend the maximum throw of the wheel always results in the note you’re looking for.

Below is another audio example. This is just a simple run with Adaptive Pitchbend set to Harmonic Minor. I’m not playing all of these notes, I’m mostly just wailing on the pitchwheel.

ScaleRun by Bill Jackson \m/

Here’s the same scale run with Adaptive Pitchbend set to a blues scale:
ScaleRunBlues by Bill Jackson \m/

If you don’t want to manually choose a scale, or if you don’t know what key you’ll be playing in beforehand, Adaptive Pitchbend can analyze the notes you’re playing in real-time and make an educated guess. Just set the scale to “ADAPTIVE” and Z3TA+ 2 will do the work for you.

Another useful trick is that Adaptive Pitchbend can be used to play arp patches in key. Just like with chords, arp patterns need their individual notes transposed by different amounts. Here are some examples: first without Adaptive Pitchbend then with it:

ArpPatternStandard by Bill Jackson \m/
ArpPatternAdaptive by Bill Jackson \m/

Lastly, one for the cheaters: with Adaptive Pitchbend it’s impossible to hit a “sour note” while the pitchwheel is engaged, since every out-of-key note is pre-bent to one that’s valid in the selected scale! Very fun for a terrible keyboardist like me.

So that’s it for now, please note that these are just the most obvious applications. Adaptive Pitchbend begs to be used creatively.

Check out the Z3TA+ 2 product pages to hear more Z3TA+ 2 sound examples or download Z3TA+ 2 today and dig in!