Figured out the PO-16 chords

So I got my first pocket operator yesterday. I chose the factory over the arcade, because it seemed like a downside not to be able to play individual notes using the buttons. I hoped the chord play style on the factory allowed me to play all of the chords necessary, because being able to play chords was the thing that i liked about the arcade.

I took a long time trying to find how the chord play styles actually work on the 16 before purchasing it, but literally couldn't find a decent explanation anywhere. 
After testing it with the actual unit, I think i figured it out (at least the first 3). Mind you, this gets into some basic music theory, but ill try to explain it so everyone will be able to use it:

So the notes were restricted to are those of the c-major or a-minor scale , meaning the white keys on the piano. These scales share 7 basic diatonic chords you can use for harmonizing:

C major
D minor
E minor
F major
G major
A minor
B diminished

As i found you can actually use all of em in the po-16, except for Bdim, but who uses that one anyway :p.
Its all about the first note you play in your pattern. If its one of the major degrees in one of those scales (so C, F or G), the chords will be the I, IV and V chords of C major, meaning

1. C major chord
2. F major chord
3. G major chord

If you play one of the minor notes first (d , e or a), the chords will be the vi, ii and iii chord of the C-major scale, so:

1. a minor
2. d minor
3. e minor

(or, even simpler to understand, those are also the i, iv and v chords of the a minor scale)

 So to summarize:

the chord playing styles will give you the Tonic, subdominant and dominant chord of either the c major or a minor scale, meaning all of the basic diatonic chords for both scales are there except for b-dim. This means you can actually harmonise almost all of the basic pop songs out there i you wanted to using the po-16. The arcade has more chords for modulation and stuff, but the po-16 can actually hold its own very well in this regard.

Things I havent tested/figured out yet:
- What happens if the first note is a b
- What the 4th playing style does 
- How the arpeggiator playing styles work chord wise

I hope this helped anyone with the same question, and if anyone has some additional knowledge on these mysterious playing styles: Please elaborate!



  • I just registered only for thanking you for this post. 
    As you where, I'm stuck between po16 and 20 for the chord reason... the arcade seems to have an accurate chord section, but can play only a very 'in-genre' music, while the factory seems probably the most versatile...
    What do you say? Can I create some interesting chord progressions with that? Is it only stuck in the C harmonization or can I do whatever I want, using them even as cool background?
    I found in this discussion something about 7th chords, what do you say?

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