... a simple virtual instrument or utility that can hold a chord or note, on MacOS / OSX ?

Preferably, free software.

A lightweight, self-contained solution would be best; a simple VST/AU plugin will work too.


  • You can create this type of tool in jmax, a free visual programming system for music. Nov 15 '18 at 7:54

I'm guessing that there's probably a "web audio" project (meaning it's just a web page built with JavaScript) that can do it. For instance here's an arpeggiator:


There are lot of other web audio projects like that and I'm sure there's probably one to do whatever you need. But I see so many of them and don't bookmark them so I can't recommend anything more specific than googling webaudio + {tool} or taking a look a Audiocrawl.co or browsing through similar lists: (1) (2) (3) (4).

Other than that there are free programs similar to Band-in-a-box like Impro-Visor and MMA. I can't speak to how good they are because I use BIAB. On mobile, Chordbot is a decent BIAB-type app.

With scoring software like Musescore (free) you could loop the playback of a measure or however long a phrase you need.

Personally, I tend to use either a hardware looper (and can just loop guitar or bass), my DAW that is usually already open, or BIAB. But I understand the need for a lightweight solution and I'd say a web page—if you can find one that meets your needs—is about as lightweight as you're going to get.

  • Thank you - Interesting tips, but no solution so far. I don't care for web pages; otherwise, this would nearly suffice: dronetonetool.com
    – Dmitri
    Aug 20 '17 at 5:56
  • The rest of the stuff is not at all lightweight. However, if there is no simple standalone utility, then a description of a simple way to do this using a DAW (with a simple and ideally free plugin) would be the next best thing.
    – Dmitri
    Aug 20 '17 at 6:11
  • A description of what you want to use it for might help others suggest tools. Is this just for practice or for live performance (where the network requirement and unreliability of a web page is dealbreaker)? And what are you practicing? Do you need just a single note/chord or are you playing over chord changes etc? For instance, I use such tools mostly for playing over entire progressions of chord changes mostly in a jazz-like context. What's your use case?
    – user37496
    Aug 20 '17 at 17:28
  • The description of how to do it with a DAW depends heavily on your DAW. But generally it's a simple as setting some loop markers, hitting record, and playing a note/chord (or drawing one in). But your DAW is probably comparable if not more resource-intensive than say Musescore or a BIAB clone. In my case, it's just that I keep it open anyway because I use it so much. This is also what makes a web page quick and lightweight. You probably already have a browser open so loading a new page only takes seconds and very little additional memory.
    – user37496
    Aug 20 '17 at 17:44

My CoreMIDI Library for LiveCode (HyperCard clone descendant, AppleScript-like) can do this, or whatever you want really with a little effort.

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