How do I create my own progressions with out of key chords?

What I’d like to do is make a progression that has “out of key” chords. An example would be Fmaj7 going to an Ebmaj7. I use Scaler by playing it into my VSTi of choice and then recording that channel so the chords are in my DAW that way.

I feel like this should be pretty easy, but I can’t figure it out. Since a lot of the Signature progressions have them, I am guessing it can be done already.

Hi @BassinFace,

You can drag any chord to the progression builder at the bottom of Scaler’s window.

You can pick and choose chords from anywhere in Scaler. For example, start with some chord from a detection and mix them with chords from a provided chord set. They don’t have to be from the same scale.

Then if you want a specific chord like an EbMaj7 you can navigate between the scales to find it. In this case it is probably present in the “Eb Major scale”, you can find out quickly from the “scales” menu by adding a filter to display Eb scales only and navigate through the different chords.

You will notice that when selecting a different scale, the chords in the progression builder will change color to highlight which ones are present in the current scale. Once you are done selecting your chords, you can find out the scale of your new progression by saving it as a chord set. This will select it from the user chord set menu and trigger an automatic detection.

This is awesome. I did it, thank you.

Follow up question - let’s stay with this progression of 3 chords.I saved it as a set, but I think I would like to find a few more chords to build a bridge with. I know I could stay in Fmaj, but what is a good way to find more exotic options that I may not have thought of?

Select your chord set, in the list of results when clicking on different scales, you can see that some chords are present in different scales but with different functions (ie: they occupy a different position in the scale).

The functions can help you build different types of progressions, you might have seen the roman numeral notation like I-IV-V etc… to describe progressions. You can use the relative position of the chord in different scales to experiment.

Here’s an example:

  1. I started from the “Songs > Alternative 1” chordset. It is detected as being in A Minor scale:

  1. I then decided to use G Major as it had a lot of common chords so it wouldn’t be too exotic:

  1. I copied the first 4 chords to the progression builder and wanted to find an alternative ending so I mixed and matched with chords from my new scale:

  1. This is what it looks like when I select the original scale of the chord set: A Minor scale. You can see that the progression went from i-VI-VII-v-i-VI-v-III to i-VI-VII-v-i-IV-VII-i relative to A Minor.

  1. Now if I save my new progression it shows that I am now in A Dorian but in the result list you can see that it also matches G Major. A Minor is not far down the list as I have used closely related scales:

It is a manual process but it allows you to understand what you are doing and slowly learn the relation between scales.

We are working on simplifying this process and bring new ways to navigate between scales for the next version.

Here is the chord set file if you want to have a look, you can import it in Scaler through the User chord-sets menu.

Alternative 1 - Example.xml (1.2 KB)

Awesome. So basically I should use the recommended scales to find alternative chords to build a bridge on? This makes sense to me and seems to work. Thanks!

Yes, the list is ordered by how close it matches your chords. Scales up the top will be easy to modulate to as there are a lot of notes and chords in common.

The lower down the list you go, the more “exotic” your changes are going to be. It will also be trickier to find voicings that work well together as fewer notes are common to both scales.

There is no right or wrong here, it all depends on what you want to achieve.

Thanks. Really love this program. If I had to make feature requests, it would be to add some ways to humanize the playing more…maybe an Arp or something that can play and break the chords up in a way that a keyboard player would. But honestly, I am sure some other VSTs may do that now, I just have to find them and stack them with this.