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.