A Scale/Chord Organization System

As a compositional process, a person could choose/define any scale, then freely define a set of chords within that scale (of any type, not just stacked 3rds or 4ths). With those elements in place, the composer could then freely create melodies, chord progressions, and rhythmic structures to create a section of music.

If the composer didn’t want to build a scale from scratch, but rather to choose from a complete list of scales. Does there exist such a list and if so, how well-organized is it? Even though modes are unique scales and every bit as valid and useful as their “parent” scales, I think I’d prefer a scale organization system that hides modes from the meta list.

Ultimately, the compositional process could be to choose/define a scale (interval pattern), then choose a mode (select which note in the scale is the root note), then choose a key (define the pitch of that root note).

I’ve always thought the “tetrachord” concept was fairly irrelevant in actual compositional practice, but perhaps it may prove useful to organize scales.

“synthetic scales” could be a category-- i.e., chromatic, whole tone, dim, aug., etc.

“diatonic” could include the various versions of major & minor scales.

“alterned modes” could include things like lydian b7 (when not a mode of another scale). But perhaps that could be listed as a derivation of an ionian mode–

I suppose rules could define a scale as having no fewer than 4 notes, and no greater than 12 notes.

I suppose there may be some scales that will not yet have names.

Scaler is well organized just the way it is, and I don’t see where it is lacking given your request. Based on what you have said, I don’t see how Scaler can be improved.

How long have you used Scaler?

I agree that Scaler is well-organized. But the scale list is far from comprehensive.
It lacks whole tone scales, diminished scales, and augmented scales and many others. It also lacks a means to add user scales for what is missing from the list.

Yes, a person could simply be confined to what is on offer in Scaler and get things done. And yes, a person could simply not use Scaler and use the process I described in my above post to create content.

I’m just curious if there exists a fairly organized list, and additionally whether that list might indicate when one scale is actually a mode of another scale in the list (and as such could perhaps be hidden).

Honestly, I have never tried to add whole tone scales or any others. I would be surprised to find out that Scaler doesn’t have diminished or augmented scales?!

When I type “diminished” I see 5 diminished scales… and,
when I type “augmented” I see 7 augmented scales.

When I type “whole” I see 0 whole scales…
when I type in “hexatonic” I see 6 hexatonic scales.

Note: Perhaps adding “user scales” would be a very nice feature, but it will definitely take some planning on the part of the devs.

I can tell already, that Scaler 3.0 is going to be a “big” upgrade. I don’t know where “user scales” is going to fall, but I’m fairly certain “user scales” as well as “scale renaming” will be included together, if and when.

. . . . .

“What happens when you try to define user scales using chord edit mode?”

I looked for the Augmented scale that goes:
m3, H, m3, H, m3, H
and could not find that one.

I looked for a diminished scale that goes either
H W H W…
or W H W H…
and could find neither.

and as you noticed, no whole tone scale.

So yea, far from complete, especially as those are pretty common scales.

I’ll need to dig into chord edit mode and see what is possible there.

I’ll be curious and excited to see the developments that are in store for v 3.0!

Scaler has incredible potential, and I’m very enthusiastic about its possibilities. I’m still using the demo and trying to decide. If 3.0 brings user scales & chords, I’ll buy it hard.

Scaler does make it pretty easy to edit a custom set of chords (despite the chosen scale). And that does provide some options for missing scales.

My demo ran out yesterday, so I’ll need to decide. It’s reasonably priced, to be sure, and has a great feature set.

My ambivalence is mainly in trying to decide if I want to immerse myself in this structure and whether the creative benefits will outweigh the creative cost. I can see there is great value in opening up whole new areas of melody and harmony that I would not otherwise find-- and there may be much more there than I can imagine. OTOH, the time I spend grasping the process as layed out by Scaler could perhaps be spent working on my own system for deriving some new scales/chord-sets for composition.

I’m not knocking Scaler, if anything, I’m talking myself into it.

As I was considering a system by which to organize scales, we can use the “Tonic as center” model that is taught in more advanced theory classes.

With the root in the center, you go up a 5th for the “dominant” note, down a 5th for the “subdominant” note. Up a 3rd for the mediant note, and down a 3rd for the submediant. The notes just above and below are called super-tonic and leading tone, respectively. However, since the 7th degree is not always a half-step below the root (and thus isn’t a leading tone), it should just be called sub-tonic or hypo-tonic. That framework gives you a 7-note scale.

For clarity and having a contiguous set of notes, we just bring the dominant down an octave to a 4th below the root and bring the subdominant up an octave to a 4th above. Thus:

5 6 7 R 2 3 4

If we arbitrarily follow the common standard of the major scale as our basis, we can use that terminology to describe quite a few scales.

Where the classification can get messy is when we have scales with more than 7 notes and we need to decide what to call a note (i.e. a #4 or b5, etc.). It may be useful to still refer to more standard intervals (M6 as opposed to dim7) as some notes will function as their major scale counterparts even if context dictates that their number is off.

So it might make sense to put some scales in a kind of “diatonic” bucket and even include some outliers as long as they roughly follow a 7 note shape (give or take).

Then have another batch called “Interval Patterns” for things like Aug, and Dim scales. They are often referred to as symmetrical scales, though nothing about them is symmetrical. As an aside, the Dorian mode is one example of several scales that are actually symmetrical.

Pentatonic scales might easily be shown as diatonic scales with 2 notes removed, so that could just be an odd way have having a sub-set of that category.

I suppose if a scale truly defies category, we could venerate them as Miscellaneous.

Full user customisability in terms of creating your own scales, chords and performances has to be built into the back end and will happen. Needs to be done right and will take some time. Stay tuned.

Thank you, Davide. That’s very reassuring. I think with that functionality built-in, there will be fewer obstacles to making things that allow the user to feel like they are fully “in charge” of the process.

I’ll keep an eye out for that!

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