I’ve had several years of classical guitar training, so I am not unfamiliar with scales, chords and progressions. But I was never into music theory much.
I tend to just try and see what sounds good. That works for me, but I also recognize it kind of limits the things I come up with.
So here is the Scaler creative chord composer, a plugin that aims to help you find chords and progressions with ease.
As you can see in the welcome screen above, Scaler can help you in several ways.
- Detect what key and scale you are in by playing some notes/chords.
- Explore tons of scales and chord sets from various genres and artists.
- Create, edit, save and export your own chord sets.
So let’s say you have a melody or some chords you want to work with. While in detect mode, Scaler shows what you play (which can also be a MIDI sequence in your DAW) and lists matching scales.
The plugin comes with a few built-in sounds, but you can also route it to another virtual instrument as well.
The amount of notes and chords that match a particular scale is displayed. In case multiple scales match your input, you can check the scale style description of each of the scales to determine what suits you best.
Once you select a scale, the Scale Explorer will show the diatonic chords for said scale. Chord variations allow you to navigate through the degrees of the scale, with all chord variations by note.
You can give your progression more character by using substitutions as well. Furthermore you can navigate 12 predefined voicings that fit the selected scale.
Moving to the bottom of the interface we find the progression builder.
Simply drag and drop chords in the slots and play them or export the MIDI to your DAW.
Since the version 1.1 update of Scaler you can also record the output directly to a MIDI track, which is great because the regular MIDI export simply dumps the chords with a preset note length and velocity.
Note that not all hosts support the pass-through recording though. In FL Studio for instance you’ll need to use a MIDI loopback device.
The builder has controls for changing the octave and inversion of chords, and you can save your own chord sets. With the bind MIDI buttons in the interface you can play chords with a single note, and at the same time play bass or melody.
Another way to find chords is by simply exploring scales.
Select notes or scale types, or check some of the songs in a wide variety of genres and contributions by artists, including Carl Cox, Josh Abrahams, MJ Cole, and more.
With the onboard bank of 1,728 scales and modes including genre and artist presets, there’s more than enough to keep the juices flowing.
Scaler is available for Windows and Mac (VST/AU/AA), priced at £39.95 GBP.
Check the 3 minute video below to get a quick overview.
So what do I think?
I am really impressed by Scaler. It took only a few minutes from launching it the first time to coming up with a nice chord progression.
You might think things get complicated with so many scales and voicings, but in fact Scaler is incredibly easy to work with. This plugin is likely going to speed up your workflow, boost creativity, and educate you along the way.
Do yourself a favor and check out the free demo, I think you’re going to like it!
More information: Plugin Boutique