- Publisher: Plugin Boutique
- Product: Scaler 2
- Version: 2.0.6
- Format: VST, VST3, AAX
- Bit Depth: 64-bit
- Operating System: Windows
Plugin Boutique Scaler 2 is a music theory VST (Virtual Studio Technology) plugin for Windows. Scaler 2 runs as a VST, VST3, and an AAX plugin. Scaler 2 VST plugin can be used with all major digital audio workstations (DAW) including Ableton Live, Logic Pro, Cubase, Pro Tools, and others.
Stuck for composition ideas? Scaler 2 might be the solution to your prayers
For the computer-based musician uneducated within the complexities of music theory, the development of chord progressions is often a significant detail.
Plugin Boutique’s new release aims to present an answer thereto problem – and empower the trained composer – by detecting the best-fitting scale for an incoming MIDI note sequence, suggesting sets of chords to suit it, and enabling those chords to be strung together into a progression.
Depending on your DAW, getting started with Scaler 2 (VST/AU) will or won’t involve an easy setup procedure – see But how does it work? Once you’ve got it up and running, load one among its many genre-based preset chord progressions (including artist contributions by the likes of Carl Cox, MJ Cole and Opolopo), or hit the Detect button and feed it some MIDI in real-time by playing your MIDI keyboard or via a clip on the hosting track.
Scaler 2 captures the incoming notes and chords as a series of blocks within the panel below the keyboard, and suggests a variety of scales and modes to which they belong, ranked by the number of notes and chords within the sequence that fit each suggestion, and complete with mood descriptions (‘Jazzy’, ‘Bluesy’, ‘Sentimental’, etc). Helpfully, the blocks for notes and chords that don’t fit the size are bordered in grey.
How does Scaler 2 work?
Scaler 2 may be a plugin instrument capable of outputting MIDI also as audio. With reference to the latter, a piano and three sampled synth sounds are inbuilt for scratch work, so you’ll quickly get a chord progression together for export as a MIDI file entirely within it.
Obviously, though, the thought is to trigger other instruments via Scaler 2, and the way this is often found out depends on the host DAW. For VST hosts, Scaler 2 loads as an instrument plugin onto a MIDI track, the output of which is shipped to a second track (hosting the target instrument) using the DAW’s routing system.
For Audio Unit hosts (ie, Logic Pro), the included ScalerControl MIDI effect plugin is loaded up instead. this is often just like the regular Scaler 2, but sits ahead of the target instrument on an equivalent track, outputting MIDI on to it. It’s certainly the more elegant of the 2 approaches, although it only captures the raw triggering notes to the track, not the chords output by the plugin.
With a scale or mode selected, its chords are laid call at subsequent panel down as another set of blocks – either the seven diatonic chords in Diatonic Chords view or every chord (including suspensions, extensions, etc) for each degree of the size within the Chord Variations view, alongside possible substitutions. Alternatively, there’s the Voicings menu, where any of 11 preset voicing sets for the chosen scale are often loaded (‘Voicing 1-7’, ‘6ths and 7ths’, ‘Minor 7ths, 9ths’, ‘Triads inverted’, etc).
Moving the mouse pointer over a chord block lights up its constituent notes within the keyboard, and every one-note and chord blocks are often triggered by mouse or MIDI input (in Bind MIDI mode), making it easy to instantly jam out a progression with one finger for immediate recording.
Once you’ve got a group of chords that you simply just like the sound of, you’ll sequence them into a progression within the Progression Builder by dragging chord blocks (from the input set or the suggestion set) into the eight mouse/MIDI-triggerable slots. The controls below are wont to shift each barricade and down in octaves and set them to all or any possible inversions. Hit the Play button to listen to the progression played as a fixed- tempo series of block chords, then reserve it as a preset and/or export it as a MIDI file.
On the scales
Scaler 2 may be a fast, intuitive, and genuinely educational compositional assistant that delivers a limitless diversity of chord progressions with no music theory or keyboard skills required. However, the inflexibility of previewing and MIDI file export is a problem. You can’t even set a note length for every chord, including edit velocity, spread notes call at the time for ‘strums’, or anything. We understand and appreciate that the exported block chords are just a start line for working up during a MIDI editor – and when using the VST version, you’ll record Scaler’s MIDI output onto another track for further editing, in fact – but hopefully, more functionality is on the cards for future updates.
That said, despite its rudimentary export options, Scaler 2 is an incredibly useful gizmo for composition novices and experts alike.