Pad AI

Songzap’s AI-powered Pad instrument brings the power of a supportive keyboard session player to the palette of sounds available to you when making music. Pad AI is part of the Groove components in Songzap Premium and, like the Beats and Bass instruments, it intelligently responds to your recordings, embracing your performances with lush keyboard arrangements.

As with all other Songzap sound libraries, we have lovingly recorded a collection of acoustic keyboards, vintage electromechanical instruments and analogue synthesisers to provide you with keyboard parts that enhance and gel with your guitar riffing, piano grooving, singing or anything else you decide to record.

Track a riff, loop or whole song performance, hit ‘Autozap’ (our automatic music accompaniment algorithm), and Songzap will analyse your chords and timing, driving the Pad engine to play organ, mellotron, lush synth strings or acoustic/electric piano parts that perfectly complement your original recordings.

Or you can start from scratch, by creating a chord chart (see how here) that will inform Pad what and when to play, and you can then explore the keyboard library and pattern presets to generate new ideas that support your live performances; possibly the quickest way known to musicians for ‘programming’ keys parts at the ease of a few taps on your phone screen.

In the next few sections (and the video below), we’ll explore all of Pad’s features and controls – come along for the ride!

Detailed walk-through of Songzap’s AI-powered Pad Instrument

The Pad AI interface

The main Pad interface consists of the lime-green keyboard at the lower part of your phone screen, with a synthesiser panel section above it and a modulation pedal to its right. Each of the seven keys (Pad Pattern Selectors) dials up a preset pattern ranging from simple held chords (or held chords with variations of pedal and passing notes an octave below), through to quarter and eighth broken-chord permutations (with respective variations of pedal and passing notes an octave below). To the left and the right of the keys, two Octave Shift buttons allow you to transpose the Pad patterns by an octave down or up, and the light indicators below each Octave Shift button act as reminders of the direction you have transposed toward (left light indicator = 8ve down, right light indicator = 8ve up, and no light indicator = no transposition).

Envelope Panel

The synth panel section above the keyboard provides a simplified envelope controller to help shape your pad sounds, with slider “A” controlling the Attack of the pad and slider “R” controlling the Release of the pad’s envelope. The Attack and Release Controls become indispensable when applied to different Pad Sample Packs as they let you dial in, for example: a certain amount of subtlety to pad sounds that are meant to slowly ‘creep in’ in the context of your productions; or linger ever so slightly over new chords, to create the feeling of continuity in your harmonic progressions.

Sample Packs

Eight Pad libraries are available from the Sample Pack Select menu, above and to the left of the envelope panel, and these include:

  • Hammond (organ)
  • Flutron (mellotron flutes)
  • Mellochoir (mellotron choir)
  • Synth Strings (multi-layered string patches from a blend of vintage and modern synths)
  • String Machine (a blend of string ensemble patches from retro and modern polysynths)
  • Rhodes (electric piano)
  • Piano (acoustic upright)
  • Unisaw (a monster-blend of Buchla-inspired analogue patches sitting on top of a stack of saw oscillators)

As with all Songzap libraries, these sounds come from real sources: analogue synthesisers and acoustic or electromechanical keyboards tracked through boutique recording signal paths (high-end pedals, amps, mics, DIs, pre-amps, hardware effects, compressors and converters). Some of the patches already feature a degree of depth and modulation within them but respond well to the Songzap Mixer effects (they do shine with a bit of Reverb), as well as the Pad’s own effect pedal…

Chorus Pedal

Tap on the Effect On/Off switch to turn the pedal on (and see the light indicator illuminated) and drag the Effect Control dot upwards to increase the level of modulation. The best way to describe the sound of the Pad Effect pedal is that of a (rather) widening Chorus quality, with increased harmonic drive as you push upwards. It’s very powerful and it can move, brighten and widen the organs, strings and other keys available in the pad sample bank. When used in combination with the Attack and Release controls – as well as the Mixer effects – there’s some serious sound-shaping power here, letting you subtly blend or extravagantly showcase your virtual keys player as part of your music productions.

AI-powered Pad and ‘Autozap’

Of course, the Pad instrument wouldn’t be half as exciting if it didn’t automatically jam with you! Just as the Beat and Bass instruments that are part of the Songzap Groove engine respond to your playing, so is Pad capable of adapting to your chords and timing. Although we have designed this feature with singer-songwriters in mind (many of whom play guitar) as a fast and responsive way to come up with keyboard parts that enrich song arrangements, we are sure you’ll enjoy it even if you’re a very capable keyboardist (hey, you may own a piano, but not necessarily a vault of vintage synths and electromechanical keyboards!)

So, record a few bars of music, say on guitar or piano, for a couple of song sections and then hit “Z” (the ‘Autozap’ or automatic music accompaniment algorithm button) and – as you may have seen in the Autozap or Bass AI User Guide tutorials – you can generate drum grooves, basslines and/or keyboard pads for your song. The Autozap algorithm also recognises song structures, so you’ll notice that the Pad engine intelligently populates Verses and Choruses differently, preselecting appropriate pattern variations and octave ranges. Of course, you’re in the driving seat, so as soon as Songzap has made its recommendations, make sure you explore the sounds, patterns, ranges and effects to sculp your arrangement as you like it.

Pad Pattern Display

In the upper part of your screen, two types of Pad Pattern Indicators display the keyboard patterns that are active. The lime-green waveform events (triangles) represent the chord cluster permutations in terms of relative pitch, duration and position for a single bar per song section (you’ll notice there is no note-length control, as the Pad engine always plays back in legato mode). And the keyboard at the top part of the display provides a real time representation of the pattern playing back, complete with current chord and song key information (including Roman numeral notation where applicable).

Final padding

Finally, around the Pad AI interface, you’ll find all the classic Songzap Groove engine menus and buttons, including the Segment Type Select menu, the Groove Type Select menu and the Enable Playback button. Positioned right above the Pad Pattern Indicators, they – respectively – allow you to quickly shift between different song sections and Groove instruments, and easily turn on and off the building blocks of your song.

Tap on the Loop Song Segment button to cycle a section (it sits right above the Enable Playback button) and you can continue to shape a pad part without the song moving on. To the left of the Loop Song Segment button, you’ll find the Copy Segment DataOpen Chord Chart and Autozap Menu buttons, while you can use the Playback Bar at the bottom of your screen for full navigational control. As ever, don’t forget to tap the Education Mode button at the bottom left of your screen (Songzap comes with Education Mode turned on, which you can turn off from the Profile Settings) to open up a feature map for all of Pad’s features and controls, and gain access to the relevant web and video tutorials!

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