Feature suggestions - Support for creating modal interchange

I’ve been trialling this plugin all day yesterday and loving it. A real game changer. Chord/harmony structure is the weakest link for my abilities so i’m super grateful for your work on this. The more i’ve been using it though the more i keep having moments of “i wish it could do this or that”. So I compiled a list in case the feedback is valuable for the evolution of the plugin.

I’m mostly interested in the plugin being able to support the creation of modal interchange (that’s some next level songwriter shit!), so most of my suggestions are coming from that angle, with some others in there. The Scale Explorer is a good start for seeing what scales the chord you chose is contained in, but it’s a little clunky to use in terms of workshopping scales that exist for multiple chords, while retaining the detector window for the original key / chord progression you were making in parallel.
I want to be able to create progressions that modulate and use borrowed chords from other modes, essentially.

So, here:

===Be able to drag chords from the Diatonic Chord / Chord interchange section into the Detect section.
===Be able to save chord edits that live in the Detect area, and save them, and the detected scales will adjust. ^ This would create more of a feedback loop between creating/experimenting with chord progressions from other keys (outside of the one you’re already working on originally in the player section) and getting suggestions based off detection.

===Be able to edit/customize the scale style tags. And the option to reset to default for a given scale too. Everybody has a different perspective/language of how a scale feels to them.

===Be able to edit chord length / rhythm in the bottom player section. E.g. if you wanna keep it simple you could still have the eight chord slots, but have 16 beat measures per 8 slots. I.e. maybe the user could have the option to give a slot a count/beat value between 0.5 and say 4. And the plugin could give a little indicator when the measures haven’t matched up to 16 yet. And maybe it could be time signature adjustable. I.e. the 16 total measures becomes 12 when it’s in 3/4 for example.
^ Something more advanced than this would be cooler, but something this simple would be more than suffice for now. Cos even though i can adjust the chord lengths after i export the midi, it’d be nice to be able to hear it in the right rhythm while you’re in the “experiment phase” of creating your chord progression within the plugin. Cos context is everything in a chord progression.

===Have the chord player at the bottom detect modes/scales too, and have colour coded highlights for it that link across the 8 slots when necessary. GUI wise, each chord in the player section should have the capability to have 2 modes (or more??) highlighted onto 1 chord slot at one time (i’m picturing an orange stripe at the top and a green strip at the bottom of the chord squares, linking chords together and uniting them under a scale within the player. Each mode could have its own colour. Maybe colours that go from light to dark?). The user should be able to link chord slots together by selecting/highlighting multiple slots in the GUI and then the cpu should be detecting what modes/scales exist for the chords you linked. So for example, the user could think “i want the first 4 chords of this 8 chord progression to be of one mode, and the next 2 chords to be a different mode, and then the last 2 chords go to another mode. But i want the 2 chords on either side of of the 5+6 slot to exist in 2 parallel modes at the same time”. So the user would highlight the first 4 chords and click Link, then highlight say 3+ 4 + 5 + 6 and click Link (so chord slots 3 and 4 would have overlapping links, A key point!!!), and do the same for 5 + 6 + 7 + 8 (click link), and then within those “chord chains” the cpu detects the modes that are possible within the range selected. Think of it as sort of like a placeholder highlight for the purpose of finding the right chords in the right CONTEXT of the chord progression. Creating beautiful parallel modal interchange is all about context, and that’s what i’m hoping this plugin can provide.

^ Maybe i’ll draw this out in MS paint after i post this.

===Ability to remove certain scales from showing up in the Detect results. i.e. i don’t need Ukrainian modes. There’s not enough room in the GUI to browse through detect results, so i need all the space i can get in the Detect results and disabling certain scales would help that.

===Also some sort of “scale of fifths” integration would be nice, but my brain hasn’t given it enough thought to be able to suggest specific integration

That’s all for now but i’ll surely think of more! Thanks for taking the time to read through my long post!


Forgive my crude mouse drawing haha but this is sorta how i imagine the modal indicator down the bottom of the GUI:

It creates a chain of chords and detects the modes, of which you can select, and it will tell you if the chords you have there fit or not.

You can have overlapping chains and the detector will narrow down the amount of modes that are applicabble to the chords you have with overlapping chain (i.e. parallel modes). This would allow you to create progressions with pivoting modes.

So in this example the chord slot #3 and 4 have a 2 chord overlapping chain, so the detector would tell you what modes contains those 2 chords.

The black dotes next to the coloured stripes are drop down menus. I don’t know, maybe it would be useful haha. Maybe you guys will think of a better layout though.

Maybe the entire box could be given a bit of a slight background colour hue too. I.e. in this example maybe box 3 and 4 would be slightly orange (but still mostly blue) in the top half, and slightly green in the bottom half.

Each mode could have it’s own colour

This would be a huge assistant for legitimate advanced songwriting. The prospect of having a tool like this excites me.

@Barncore This is all brilliant feedback and we have been hard at work integrating some expansive modulation features into the next major iteration of scaler. Theory being theory it’s so open to interpretation that we need to settle on A) What types of modulation do we want Scaler to assist with? B) What can Scaler advise or let user decide? C) How to integrate it all.
There are three killer features being introduced to Scaler 2. Modulation assist is one of them and we are currently consulting with some top screen composers and of course our more common producers and composers to get this right and make it useful from the get go. Needless to say it’s really exciting and we are blessed to have users like yourself offer this kind of feedback - stay tuned!


@Barncore Further to this there are several ways to ‘re-detect’ your user scales. You can save as chord set, or you can export to DAW and ‘DETECT’ We are integrating new ways to detect internally!

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Oh my god, that sounds super exciting! Glad to hear the plugin is already moving in the right direction!

There is zero modulation in today’s pop music. So maybe this plugin can make the world a better place, who knows. Dream big right? :stuck_out_tongue: Bless all of your socks.


Really appreciate this thread. As a “commoner”, I am arriving at music theory and technique through the side door and the less I have to learn the better! I really appreciate Scaler for this already.

With that in mind, I do experiment with chord substitution and modulation a fair bit. Chord substitution could definitely be simpler in Scaler. There is some limited substitution suggestion now through the right click on the chord. What about expanding it to include the most common types of substitutions that I have made notes on? Or use some other mechanism to highlight possible substitutions. Some of these are the same or subsets I think or even wrong - but then all that theory isn’t my forte :wink:

Modal Interchange / Borrowed Chords
Relative Maj or min
bVI (use for I or passing to a V)
Secondary Doms
ii for IV and other Median
ii7 / viidim7 / #iidim7 / bVII / VII7 - for a V7
m11 for m11

As for key modulations, I look forward to all the big ideas to come!

On another note, it would be great if Scaler correctly recognized (and / or offered as a variation) all the varieties of Mu chords.



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@jeffreyk Thanks for the suggestions on Modulations. You know that between ‘Substitutions’ and hitting Create on a blank chord box an then selecting ‘Ascending Interval’ you can get most of those voicings you mention?
We are working hard on the Modulation features and it is a fine line between being an encyclopaedia that benefits a select few to being a genuinely helpful tool that helps people make music. Irrespective the challenge is what makes it fun for us and what makes Scaler the software it is today.
Finally, in terms if the Mu chord recognition there are decisions you need to make at analytical stage and added 2nds is a very tough one. But it is a good point as to how Scaler assumes a 3rd and subsequently Sus2 when it could be described as a Mu. We will discuss this at next roundtable. Thanks again!

Doh! Where did that Create button come from?! haha. Thanks Davide. That’s very helpful. I shall explore.

In my mangled workflow approach, having that available through the chord I want substituted would be very practical. I typically create the foundation of the song, then go back and look for ways to add nuanced changes. I dont often have a blank chord box nearby. If could simply change the progression, then could play it through in the revised version (or versions if I want to experiment with different possible substitutions). I could also then drag and drop the revision, combine with the orginal and relisten with Scaler.

What got me interested in substitution was reading and hearing about how it was used by many of the most successful pop songwriters on many of the worlds most favourite songs. Hopefully Lennon & McCartney aren’t consigned to the encyclopedia just yet! :wink:

WRG to Mu chords, using the Generate Parallel Harmony function, Scaler nicely creates all voicings of Mu chords which can be saved as Chord Sets.

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This is a big part of what sets Scalar apart. It does not dumb things down by removing options or information so it remains useable by someone that uses theory along with it.

I might suggest setting up more of the advanced features in your settings screen and declutter the UI that way if needed.

You guys are really close to have THE killer theory VST. Right now it is still the best and the addition of the guitar fretboard was golden.



Gold star for mentioning Mu chords.

Modal Interchange

Just set up an account looking for this topic!

I would really like to see Borrowed Chords as an option under “Substitution” in the right-click menu for a chord. In order to achieve this now, you have to go to the section above to change the note and scale and then find the chord, but this changes the names of the chords in your current progression and can be frustrating, (especially when dealing with B<->C/E<->F, keeping track of notes that changed, etc)

Ideally, it would be set up as another item in the menu along with Leading tone and Explore Scales, opening up a menu list of borrowed versions of the current chord.


@professorSchism Indeed all good suggestions and as mentioned Modulation will be one of the main features we are incorporating into Scaler 2. We may add a menu option if we arrive at Scaler 1.8 but looking increasingly likely update 1.7 due out late Feb may be the final update for our original Scaler which is virtually a new piece of software from where we started a couple of years back. Stay tuned an thanks for the suggestions!


Really looking forward to buying Scaler 2! Related to detection and modulation, I use the banks in the progression builder to contain chords specific to a modulation. What I notice is that detect always starts with Bank 1 and includes all banks so the modulated scale is lost and the detected scale is based on best guess of the aggregate of all banks. This is further exacerbated if I substitute a non-diatonic chord in any of the banks. What about an option for detection by chord bank? (Currently I resolve this by creating another Scaler instance which contains only the modulated section.) (Or maybe there is a better way already available for me to handle this?)

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@jeffreyk I indeed also suffer the same dilemma so rest assured we are working on several ways top accomodate this type of cross-referencing etc in Scaler 2.

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FYI, modal interchange is NOT modulation! I recommend the authors of this tool study closely the berklee school of music harmony books by Barrie Nettles.

Indeed modulation is a broad subject, but under modal interchange, there are only a few additional chords to consider that stay within the key and can be used without changing the key center, but also are non-diatonic. You borrow from the minor for example. This is used so commonly throughout the best songwriting, its really sad that its missing here. Yes if you know your theory you can find the borrowed chords, but really there need to be more in-key chord options. For example, if you’re in the key of C major, its completely ok to borrow the Eb Major chord. Ab major is another common one Bb major also. There is a borrowed chord that can be found on all 12 scale degrees and never modulate, and its not that many options either if you understand this theory…its completely within the realm of possibility for Scaler to provide those options without going off the deep end into endless modulation.

Secondary dominants also need to be covered better.


Thanks for the Theory lesson (sorry had to be a little sarcastic!)
Theory is theory. An orchestra will interpret the borrowed chord to be in the key of X and therefore you have modulated temporarily. For the rest of us we would only consider it a borrowed chord. So thats why we have a modal mixture page set up in the modulation page. You can see all the chords that you could possible borrow based on your current key. So (now without sounding sarcastic) isn’t it easy enough for you to click, MODULATION > MODAL MIXTURE and choose a chord of choice? Also within the modulation page there is a preset that allows you to see secondary dominants and pre dominants for each chord. Sounds like we have you covered nicely. Am I missing something?

sorry no. Modulation is when there is a clear departure of the key center, which does not have to the case with borrowed chords and secondary dominants. Modulation is absolutely a separate topic, separate functional analysis as well with often times entirely different chord scales as a result. Do not confuse modulation with modal interchange, they are completely different! Modal interchange expressly attempts to add certain non-diatonic tones in the form of borrowed chords while also maintaining a musical feeling that the original key center is still intact. The key center has not modulated at all. This is not just theoretical, you can hear it!

When music modulates to a new key center, then you have to make a great effort to modulate back if you want, or not, but the key center has been changed.

Conversely with borrowed modal interchange chords, the key center remains, but interesting colorful chords are introduced with non-diatonic tones that will seem to work and don’t change the key center either. You can move back to I of that original key center and it will all sound like it was meant to be and perfectly normal within that key. That is modal interchange.

When you modulate to a new key, the underlying chord scales change…and therein lies the practical difference in terms of a chord tool. From a songwriting perspective, you also don’t want to think of it as a key change. Borrowed modal interchange chords are very common and from a songwriter’s prospect should be part of the palette without having to think you are modulating to new key to do it. And you aren’t.

You can change the key center by using only chords from the modal interchange.

Like the rest of the modulation screens, the modal interchange is for you to find chords related to your progression. What you decide to do with them is up to you, substituting, borrowing, etc…

I don’t think we are misleading anyone here simply providing a way to navigate content.


I’m not saying you are misleading anyone. I am saying that modal interchange and modulation are two completely different things that need to be handled in different ways.

There are chords on all 12 semi tones that can be used in a given key without changing key, modulating leaving the key center at all, and in fact that is the whole point of modal interchange, to bring in other chords with more non-diatonic notes…which still do not leave the feel of being still in the original key. In order to achieve that, special handling has to occur with modal interchange borrowed chords.

It was stated earlier that borrowed chords can be achieved by changing key (ie, modulation approaches), but that is not always strictly true, and its certainly a PITA to have to pretend to change keys, when really you specifically do not want to change keys ,you just want to borrow chords that traditionally have not been considered as diatonic.

I concur with others that have requested this, I wish Scaler was better in this regard.

Also don’t forget secondary dominants.

Can we wade through the fluff and get to the point of what you are suggesting please? That’s the real interest here. In Scaler 2 we have a devoted modal mixture page which with a click allows you to audition any chord from the parallel modes. Pretty much every sensical ‘borrowed’ chord option available to you. You can even turn on dynamic voicing so it’s all grouped and lead nicely and sounds super smooth (exactly as I am currently using it). Then you can do what you want. Isn’t that what you are after?