Another observation on Unisons

This is with Scaler 2.5 running in Cubase Pro 10. (If it turns out this problem is related to my older version and OS and can’t be made to work on my system I’d understand. However, it may not be. I hope it isn’t. Regardless of that I thought a post about it might be useful.)


Two Scaler Instrument Tracks.

Scaler 01 has the song Leon Switch 12. Scaler 02 it is empty.

I sync Scaler 02 to 01 and see all the Unions in the patterns from 01 are gone from 02. Where there was a Union in Scaler 01 there’s a blank pad in the Scaler 02 See screenshot.

Also, when this song which contains Unsions is used in a DAW project, as previously mentioned Unisons are, again, lost when the project is saved, closed and re-opened.

I have a work-around for this but it would be great to have it patched. Unions are a natural part of guitar parts and horn sections, voices, etc. I’m glad Scaler has them and hope this can get sorted out.

Thanks, I hope this helps.

Hi @1stInversion

This issue has been fixed in 2.6. Reloading a project and syncing the state to another instance now properly keep the unison chords.

The update will be available soon, sorry I don’t have an exact date to communicate but we are getting really close.


Although I’m using Scaler for more than a year (or more?) I’m not aware of „unison“ chords. What are they?

@1stInversion, echoing @thomass, Unisons are not something I use at all, and it would be useful to get your input on whether ‘unison’ embraces (a) a single note (b) two notes played together at the same pitch (possible on a guitar but not on one piano) (c) two or more notes played at octave intervals , or (d) all of the above ?

[Or, detuning two oscillators in a patch, in synth terms…]

It’s a term used for both but the meaning is completely different. I’ll omit discussion of Unisons in terms of oscillators since it’s really off topic.

In music, a Unison is commonly defined as: “two or more sounds or tones at the same pitch or in octaves.”

In many styles of music, for guitar parts in particular, Unisons are mixed with Chords. I could cite many examples but the song Cissy Strut by The Meters is a good illustration. It features single notes mixed with some sparse chords – it’s mostly single notes, in other words, it’s mostly Unisons with a couple of chords. The Unisons and the Chords together create the sound of the full part.

Scaler had a problem with Unisons which, as mentioned above, will be patched in a soon-to-be-released update. :+1: See my previous posts under Bug Reports on the issue.

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Ok, I’ll adopt that definition, thanks.

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thanks, @yorkeman, regarding me, I never used unisons in the past as part of scaler mockups.

Unison as an interval played on a piano is absurd in itself, of course.
In classical music we use voices in unison to mean that they play exactly the same notes. When I say oboe and violins 1st at unis or in unison I mean that I use the same track for both instruments, playing the same notes.
As for the use of unison in Scaler, I never found much sense in it (maybe none). Another thing is unisono 8th, since there are two different notes, the base and its 8th above or below

In Scaler unison is an incorrect term perpetuated by some that insist that there is such a thing as a unison chord. It is a single note and nothing else and should be called as such.

It is said that the band plays this point in Unison. That means everyone is playing the same notes. the octaves can be different, of course. It can be a riff or a melody.

My understanding of unison is that this refers to an interval of 1, just as a second is an interval of 2 (the minor second is three half steps and the major second is four half steps).

The unison therefore is two notes played at the same pitch: impossible for a single instrument.

Two notes that are an octave apart is not called a unison: it is an octave.

The unison interval is the same as the sum 0 + 0 = 0
But it seems that we want to go even further, inventing the 0+0 chord
Intervals are one thing and chords are another. I think that precisely people get confused because they understand it as you have written it. A minor 2nd interval is 1 semitone, and a major 2nd is 1 tone, or 2 semitones, as you prefer. And the distance in semitones in a unison interval is 0 semitones.
It is true that a 3rd minor interval consists of 3 semitones and a major 3rd of 4. And on those thirds (minor and major) the basic chords (minor and major) are generated. I think you got confused in the explanation, since you talk about 2 minor and 2 major, and that will generate even more confusion
To clarify a little more:
It is obvious that chords are several notes played at the same time. And an interval refers to notes played successively, one after another. Understanding this, a unison will be 2 equal notes (of the same height on the staff) played one after the other. Imagine for a moment that you are interested in linking (joining) those 2 equal notes; you would have a single note with the duration of the 2 tied notes. The interval between those notes of the same name and height is what is called unison

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So to clarify a unison chord is an arpeggiation of two notes with an interval of 0 played one aftet the other?

There is no such thing as a unison chord. A chord is 2 notes or more played at the same time.

That’s what I thought, I misunderstood your previous post.

(another long and tedious Yorkeman post follows …)

There’s obviously some mismatch in both use and understanding of the semantics here. What’s ‘correct’ can be less clear, as rather than being some absolute, meaning is often shaped by convention and usage, and this may be different in different environments.

A trivial example is that on a piano it’s not possible to play two notes of the same pitch, as @jjfagot points out, and yet on my guitar I can play an octave of C major scale with notes of the same pitch with 8 separate fingerings (without mixing shapes, which would make more) and I could play a ‘triad’ of three notes with the same pitch (if I had fingers 10 inches long).

Each note of said triad would not, however, sound the “same”. as the tonality would differ and they would have slight variations in tuning. I think it’s this sort of scenario which leads to different perceptions and usage … something is meaningless on a trumpet and an artistic expression on a guitar.

In @jjfagot’s example, it’s more like 0.002 +.0011 which is not 0.

So what we have is

@1stInversion → “two or more sounds or tones at the same pitch or in octaves.”

@jjfagot → “voices in unison to mean that they play exactly the same note”

@jamieh → “a single note and nothing else and should be called as such”

@ed66 → “unison therefore is two notes played at the same pitch”

I can see how there are different perceptions, maybe arising from different backgrounds @jjfagot cites an important caveat here " In classical music" where there are more or less no instruments which can play more than one given note of the same pitch (generally no guitars in a orchestra), whereas this type of tonality is more bread and butter to @1stInversion, and does actually have meaning.

I thought it would be useful (from my angle ) to pull the threads together of ‘Unison’ definitions like so


Noun words are often labels for concepts. It’s rather like two close together desert islands A and B having labelled ‘cat’ and ‘dog’ in opposite senses. So everyone on island A knows that dogs keep the mice at bay and on island B they know that dogs bark at night. All is well until they build a bridge between the islands, and meet, and confusion arises.

This board is that bridge, and we should treat these discourses as positive; we are all learning about other musical islands. Maybe we just need to remember that sometimes the meaning attached to words largely by convention is used differently by different tribes. Vive la difference …

A note from me, regarding “In classical music.”
You know that in orchestras, although there are usually no guitars, there are different families of instruments (strings, woodwinds, brass, and tuned and untuned percussion)
The strings (violins, violas, cellos and double basses) tune their strings before starting a performance, but nevertheless in each one of the notes they play they pay attention, since these instruments do not have frets and a few millimeters of error in your finger can spoil a beautiful unison, for example.
Woodwind instruments have holes and keys to plug holes that your hands wouldn’t reach. But the fact of correctly placing a fingering for the correct note that they have to play will not ensure correct tuning, since if you do not send enough air with the correct pressure, if your embouchure is neglected for a second, it will also mess up the tuning of the whole.
Brass instruments have valves to vary the notes. But note that there are only 3 or 4 valves and that with them they must produce all the notes. Here the air, the correct embouchure and the pressure of the air sent take on special importance.
As for tuned percussion, in general, the tuning is achieved with the tension of the heads (the more tension, the higher). Likewise, a simple bass drum or snare can sound lower or higher depending on that tension.
When you hear an orchestral unison played by a large symphony orchestra (about 100 professional musicians) playing at the same time, you can really understand what a unison is.
In short, everything is achieved because it is tuned looking for the tuning to be the same for everyone.
On the other hand, sometimes rehearsing with students who have only been playing their instrument for 2 or 3 years, I don’t hear those unisons, of course. And it’s not because they don’t place their fingerings right. Sometimes they don’t send the air with enough pressure, and this multiplied by 40 students causes the “unisons” you are talking about. With study and experience, these students will be able to play in tune, which is what we teachers try to teach our students. The goal of these students will surely be to be one of the professionals of those good symphony orchestras. But good symphony orchestras don’t hire musicians who can’t get in tune with the rest of the orchestra. There are times when, although the student is very hard-working and studious, he lacks the necessary ear to be a good professional.
In short, for us tuning is essential, and we managed to tune being many. We know that if we didn’t we would have to limit ourselves to playing solo at home.
Of course you can play “different sounding unisons” on the guitar, and you can also use a synthesizer and pitch one oscillator up a little bit, and the other oscillator a little bit down, to get a new timbre to the sound. synth, but, objectively speaking, even if it is controlled (as vibrato is too), it is still a detune.

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Thanks, jj, for a very informative post. . In one way, it maybe underlines one of my points, in that as a result of your post I’ve learned more about the structure of an orchestra than I ever would have done otherwise if we hadn’t have had this dialogue. In particular, the point about experience in achieving common tuning would never have occurred to me - that’s very illuminating

As a minor point on a guitar, (which I guess you are familiar with) a more important factor than the slight de-tuning (which the goal is not to have, but it’s hard to get 100% intonation settings, especially with a floating bridge) is that the harmonic content of a note depends on how (for example) closely the notes are played to the nut or the bridge and which string the note on, as the latter obviously vary in thickness; hence there is marked variation in the summed harmonic content of the sound, even if the de-tuning did not apply.


It is true that the tempered tuning has brought this type of problem.
Just as it is perfect on a piano, there have always been problems with the rest of the instruments. Problems that have been solved with improvements in the manufacture of instruments. The ones that have evolved the least are the bowed string ones, which, in my opinion, are the most perfect, since having a good ear can do a lot. I can particularly say that some brands of bassoons built instruments that put the performer to the test, :grinning: :grinning:.
It also depends on the genre of music you make, of course. But I think that the fundamental thing is to develop the ear well.
I have played in orchestra with good guitarists (classical guitar) works such as the Concierto de Aranjuez or the Fantasia para un gentilhombre, both by maestro Joaquín Rodrigo, and I must say that there were no tuning problems. It’s different with electric guitars, of course, and I think that a tuning of this type is not suitable for genres like rock.
I think the important thing is that when we play together we try to tune together, that’s all


Just to be clear I totally agree with @jjfagot and his definition of unison. As someone that does film music and the associated orchestral angles with that, unison always meant the same pitch was being played no matter the instruments or number of players. Indeed, even my folk music/medieval music days meant the same thing. Where it gets corrupted is that Scaler will call one note a unison. That’s fine and it fits the definition. Where I object, and it isn’t just a matter on semantics but fact, is calling one note a chord, which given the definition of a chord, one note is not.
Again, all discussion is welcome. Many are just beginning to learn music through Scaler which is fabulous. It does serve one in the long run to learn things correctly.

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