Just watched this:
(There’s a brief glimpse of Scaler ca. 00:28.)
Had never heard of this device. My main reaction is that, while some of the features are indeed missing from current products, the setup sounds too complicated for my tastes.
(To be honest, I even feel Scaler itself could afford some simplification, “progressive disclosure”. Maybe that’s just me.)
The pressure-sensitive membrane controller pads might indeed be fun. The Embody Erae Touch could deliver a similar experience, despite some issues with the hardware.
I’m mostly interested in that one feature on the Hotz which, if I understand things correctly, allows you to record a progression and then filter incoming notes to be in the proper chord/scale relationship. I’ve been trying to build something similar on several occasions, using different tools, and there’s always something missing. It even got me into a wild set of raw notes about what the optimal setup would be.
There are many ways to use scale filters. Some of them have a weird thing where playing a new note will cut the sound (because it ends up on the same note so it sends a note off; I prefer it when it just maintains the note). Few accept notes from external devices to switch the filtering. Fewer still (if any) do chord/scale relationships. Have yet to find/create the proper setup.
Expected behaviour: arbitrary chords are played/fed into a filtering device. That same device takes in the notes from a performance-focused controller (in my case, probably a windcontroller) and filters notes to play within scales associated with each chord.
So, say the current chord is A♭dim7 (implying A♭ WH Diminished scale). If I play a C♮, it filters down to C♭. If I play a B, the C♭ still plays. If I play an E (legato), it glides to E. Next chord is D♭7 (implying D♭ Mixolydian or D♭ Lydian Dominant, etc.). The E keeps playing, creating tension. If I play it again, it filters down to E♭.
I was at least able to prototype this by sending scale notes to a filter, in sync with corresponding chords. It was as much fun as I expected.
I’d like to do this with arbitrary chords, directly from Scaler.
And it’d be nice if it could select different scales within the ones which make sense. So, in the D♭7 example, it could restrict to D♭ Lydian Dominant on one run, D♭ Mixolydian another, and even switch to D♭ Major Pentatonic at some point. Yes, it can be jarring. That’s partly the point. It’s the kind of thing I enjoy as it breaks my expectations.
It’s somewhat similar to the effect of playing rotating chords, like the setup Robby Kilgore created for Michael Brecker and which has been used on several recordings. Playing a note repeatedly creates different chords. Technically, because it’s deterministic, you can tell which chords will play next. In practice, it feels almost like random. Yet it sounds quite good. I really enjoy the tension/release effect.
So, back to the chord/scale filtering. I wish Scaler had such a feature.
Now, maybe I’m completely wrong about the Hotz. Maybe it doesn’t do anything similar to what I have in mind. In fact, come to think of it, it does sound like you’d have to program those relationships in advance, for those to work. Much less fun.
Still, that old device does sound like it can inspire current devs, especially now that some UX principles are better understood in the industry.