Can Scaler send midi back to my controller?

Hey, I LOVE Scaler. What a masterwork of software. :two_hearts: It’s completely changed my composition technique, and actually has been really inspiring me to learn more theory and technique.

One thing I can’t figure out though is how to get Scaler to light up my controller as I audition chords. Maybe it’s a Scaler thing, maybe it’s a Reaper thing. Surely somebody has figured out if this is possible.

Currently I can audition chords and scales no problem. It will send midi out to my instruments in Reaper, but I’d love it if it also sent midi out to my controller (Push 2), that way I could use it more easily to learn chord shapes.

One of my favorite things to do to learn right now is to create a progression in Scaler, something I never would’ve explored on my own, then learn how to play those chords manually and jam on it.

Thanks for reading!


Hello, DRoss
Put in the topic search of the forum Push 2 and you will find some topics covered in the forum on the subject. For example this:

I think this is a topic that covers more than the Push 2 case. The “learn how to play those chords manually” is the main focus.
Adding the visual feedback on controllers that support it (Push1, Push 2, NI Komplete Kontrol, Launchpad, Korg Nanokeys, Akai Force, Roli Lumi come to mind…even Maschine if it allowed Midi FXs) would really improve the educational aspect of Scaler

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Sorry DRoss,

It’s most unlikely that this can be done easily - for a number of reasons.

Firstly the interface to program the lights on the Push2 is really not very musical - certainly nothing to do with any currently selected scale, which you would need for meaningful chord shapes. The 64 key pad area requires very specific MIDI messages to light up and colour individual keys - and nothing to do with the music being played.

In principle a new piece of interface software along the lines of PushWhacker could do this if told the current key and mode (or the functionality added to PushWhacker), but then there would be further problems …

Your DAW project would need to be configured to forward all Scaler input to this interface - it couldn’t “just happen”.

What would be displayed when scaler uses chromatic notes not in the current key? The display could really only work for purely diatonic (in-key) chords which would severely limit the interest of your progressions.

All-in-all you would probably be better advised to try to follow the chords on a keyboard (not the Push2) and this info is already displayed within Scaler.

I could be wrong…but wouldn’t it be enough for Scaler to send back a message with the notes played to light up those notes on a controller?

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No, sorry. It doesn’t work like that - at least on the Push2 that I work with.

As I explained above, although the Push2 uses MIDI input notes to light up the pads, the specific MIDI notes for each pad bear no relation to the music or to the key and scale to which the pad array is configured.

And even if you had software (like an enhanced PushWhacker) to map the notes based on a configured key and scale, what could it display for any out-of-key (chromatic) notes in a non-diatonic progression?

Ok…I understand I can’t understand it…
In my mind C1 is always C1, as D2 is always D2…but you continue to throw in the “music” and the “key and scale” in the game…probably there is something I can’t understand.
And about pad array configuration…isn’t the Push managing this? If that’s not the case, how could the Push even be used as a midi controller for third party programs?

Thanks for your responses Brian, but I need to point out for future people reading this that you’re wrong.

The Push 2, along with the Launchpad and many other pad controllers will actually easily display notes in chromatic scales.

You can set it to any chromatic scale, but leaving it in chromatic C Major gives you an isomorphic key layout arranged in 4ths. It’s dramatically easier to learn and play all the chord shapes since all the patterns are consistent. So when you learn a C major triad you can just shift that same hand position anywhere on the pads to play any other major triad.

So if I leave the Push in chromatic C I can play any chord/scale combination with fixed key locations.

My question is, can Scaler light up the appropriate pads on my controller when I click a key or a chord in the plugin? It should be able to.

Yes exactly.

Scaler seems to send midi out to any other plugins you route it to, but it won’t directly send midi back to your controller.

I’m wondering if there’s a setting I’m missing or if this is by design, or if my DAW is controlling this.

Almost all my other plugins will send midi back out to the controller if you play their interface.

Ah, Brian I see you’re using a custom software you designed for Push 2 and the Studio One DAW. Well done! It’s takes a lot of work and commitment to make a custom interface tailored to your specific needs :two_hearts:

For my work I use Reaper and Ableton Live. The Push’s functionality in Live is extensive to say the least, and it’s easy to visualize the pads in scale only modes or chromatic modes.

In Reaper I use this custom driver:

It gives Reaper (or Bitwig) about 90% of the functionality of Live to the Push. Again making scales easy, as well as SO much more.

Without third-party software, the Push2 only really works (and it works well) with Ableton. Without Ableton, the Push2 does use MIDI to send and receive notes which can be handled by any DAW or other music software. But the pad array is chromatic, starting at nn36 (two octaves below middle C). So if you are happy to play on a chromatic scale, this will work. Similarly sending MIDI to the Push can set the corresponding pad to a colour encoded in the note velocity.

It is possible to remap the pads to other musical scales and to change the key and various software add-ons can do this. I was aware of Shove (which was unreliable and limiting) and so wrote my own PushWhacker. I suspect that the Mossgrabers Reaper plugin does something similar.

So, to conclude… You would definitely need a third-party piece of software to control the lights on a Push2. That needs to encode light on/off/colour via the MIDI note velocity, which is very specific to Push2. Similar encoding may or not be possible with other hardware controllers. That third-party software could be enhancements to PushWhacker or Mossgrabers plugin. And that would work easily with a chromatic pad layout. But it is by no means clear how it should behave with a key layout (e.g. major, minor) with out-of-key notes generated by Scaler.

Push 2 handles CHROMATIC or DIATONIC scales layouts with quick octave switching natively in Ableton Live.

You can play it like a 4 octave piano, shift through octaves easily, and set it to highlight any note as the “root”.

In Reaper or Bitwig this 3rd party driver has that same functionality:

There’s no question that it can be done. It is done, and it works wonderfully if you use Live, Reaper, or Bitwig which I do. I have no knowledge of anyone doing fully lit chromatic scale tunings for the Push for other DAW’s.

Thank you for your information and input Brian, and your Pushwhacker software looks great and highly useful for many things and looks DAW independent which is awesome.

My question still stands, Scaler will not light the pads of my controller if I play its interface. Most other software instruments will without an issue so I know it can be done. Anyone know why?

I suspect the answer is in some way the same they gave about NI Komplete keyboards integration: at the moment they prefer to put all their energies in making the software the best they can and other tasks (like these kind of “advanced” integration with hardwares) are relegated to a not identified “in future”.
If you ask me, these functionalities ARE part of making their program the best that it could be, but only they know the energies they have at their disposal and where is best to use them

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Thanks, yeah, quite possibly it’s just not there yet.

In the meantime it’s not too difficult just to build a progression and then drag the midi out into my DAW.

Once I have the actual midi there my DAW will light up the Push and show me how to play the chords manually. It would just save a few extra steps to not have to do that.

I’ll post back here if I do find a way.

Meanwhile, I might spend a couple of hours and add a MIDI-In channel to PushWhacker to light up notes. I can see that it would be OK for chromatic mode, and for “In key” mode I might just skip out-of-key notes. Or maybe light the next lower in-key note in a different colour?? It’ll take me a week or two as I am away much of this week.

The Site Of Jürgen Moßgraber (

Looks like this guy has done some customizations for at least Bitwig & Reaper. I wonder to what extent Scaler interaction could be scripted under Bitwig which seems to have a more extensive controller API than other DAWs.