How I use Scaler 2 to create a complete song. What's your process?

Over the past few years I have been consistently impressed with how Scaler and Scaler2 have developed in terms of depth and range of functionality. There aren’t many VSTs you can say that about so kudos to Davide and the team.

I am an amateur musician/music producer whose productivity varies considerably as I try to fit may hobby in with everything else that goes on in life. However, one constant is that almost everything that I create starts off with Scaler2. I simply find it to be the best source to spark new musical ideas. A recent example is my very first music-video, Subconscious Mathematician (a nod to Thelonious Monk’s famous quote).

Subconscious Mathematician (TM) - YouTube

I thought that it might be interesting to share my methodology (if you can call it that) for producing this piece:

  1. Audition chord progressions in Scaler2 and select one I like. Choose it’s key as the home/target key for the song. In this case, Eb Minor/Bb Major.
  2. Use the force-key function in Scaler2 to audition and select a number of additional chord progressions for potential use
  3. Change each of the progressions (re-order chords, modify chords, drop chords, capture playback timings etc) to create something different but still in the target key i.e. make them your own
  4. Feed the chord progressions into sequencer/arpeggiator VSTs of your choice and record multiple patterns for each progression. In Subconscious Mathematician, I used Animation Station and the native Arpeggiator in Omnisphere and fed the generated patterns into various instrument plugins such as Omnisphere, Equator 2, Noire and Pharlight. Generally, I create 3 - 4 patterns for each chord progression.
  5. Using Ableton Session View, develop and refine the overall structure and arrangement for the song. Ableton is perfect for this type of iterative song development. This is very much the hard part as, at this stage there will be potentially dozens of different chord progressions and related riff/arp patterns to order, group and sometimes discard. I often use the Ableton Scene Follow Actions function to produce a rough-cut, complete version of the song and then use this as the basis to drag the chord sequences and generated patterns into Ableton’s Arrangement View into something that might approximate the overall end result.
  6. Work within Ableton Arrangement View to develop and finalise the detailed arrangement ready for mixing and mastering.

This is very much a summarised take of what I do but I guess the key message that I want to get over is that Scaler 2 provides the foundation (Steps 1 - 3) that underpins the complete process.
This is one of the approaches that I use with Scaler 2. It works for me. However, I am keen to hear how you use Scaler 2 to drive your own music creation process.

If you like Subconscious Mathematician, there is a higher fidelity music copy of it on Soundcloud together with a bunch of other tracks that have almost all been based around using Scaler 2 as their starting point.


Very nice track, and very much of the genre (or one of them) I aspire to. Step 5 is where I get stumped, so I am trying to be more critical with the initial auditioning (but of course, this might lose some possible combination of elements you would otherwise have found.) I’ve only recently moved to using ‘Scene Follow’, which might help more.

I tend to think of music as being composed of the three elements of melody/harmony, rhythm, and timbre, and my interest is in doing things completely focussed on the latter. I like sounds. Hence Omnisphere, DUNE and Luftrum’s Lunaris are my main “go to’s” ** , but also Analog V and Absynth , but always starting with Scaler.

** I gave away my Korg Wavestation / Matrix 1000 / JV1080 to a charity to raise cash, but kept my Roland JD800 - a classical early digital synth, which has had to fabulous patches done for it.

Thanks for the link and the very nice track and visuals. I think it’s a great piece of work.

I’d say, for me, comparing my process to yours would be something akin to comparing a sledgehammer to a scalpel. But at a macro level, it has some commonality - start with a chord and a performance (Melody, Ostinato, Arpeggio…something), add another chord or chords, decide if I want the piece to be active or passive, apply notes and figures to my VST’s in Studio 1, modify the sequence, add bass/secondary instrumentation…

More often than not, the original form I start with gets chucked altogether; as I develop ideas around the original, inevitably I’ll find something that I like better and re-build a foundation around that. For the moment, on my current project, I think I’ve started and re-started one particular piece 11 times (and counting…). I am consistently haunted by the prospect of relying too much on techniques and forms I’ve done before.

My challenge is that I’m doing pieces that, for the most part, have to start, develop, evolve and resolve
in two minutes or less - an artificial restraint that is driven by the images I attach the music to. It’s a discipline I have to force myself out of, because…why?..

Anyway, I admire your work. I’d like to be a surgeon, too - maybe someday I’ll get these boxing mitts off and start operating. Your piece provides some inspiration toward that goal.

Hi Jim. I hope I find you well.

Well, I’ve been tinkering with songwriting for some time, but I’m no musician in the sense of any bits of paper saying I am. Or am I a piano player, which seems to be the obsession when talking about music.

I’m a jake-of-all-trades and master of none with most things, including music.

I think too often we get dragged into buying this and buying that, be that instruments, plugins, tutorials etc. At first, I got sucked into this and spent a fortune. I was getting nowhere.

As a retired Primary School Teacher, everything is about the basics and building a solid foundation. It is my approach to music.

I still look at all the fantastic things sold as that magical elixir for songwriters and made from all the dead musicians gone and maybe some that are still breathing, or should that be beating. With this, you will have it all! But, as often is the case; it is just another pipe dream.

There is no magic answer or magic formula—just guidelines and tools. The only thing you need to do, and anybody can, is studying the guidelines and learn how to use the tools well.

Scaler is a tool; at first, I thought it was like many others out there. My first impression… when I came across Adagio, Espressivo… you get the picture. I assumed it was another case of those who can say these words in a manner that makes me cringe a bit, trying to tell those who can’t, we’re so much better than you.

But, the more I started to work my way around Scaler and strip away the added extras, I found a tool that many who want to create songs will be able to use, or that’s what I think, without having to study for many years to play the piano.

Getting back to the core of this topic, What’s your process?

I use LPX, but I do not know if it is better than anything else. It’s the first one I got, and I stuck with it. Familiarity with some things is a good thing.

In Scaler, I’m trying to build the components of a song, such as an intro, verse, chorus, and middle 8, you know what I mean.

I wanted to build the whole foundation in Scaler, and I’m getting there.

I’m now trying to use midi notes that correspond to the different patterns/parts key switches, in the Pad Section and build the entirety of the song via this trigger track. This is the part I’m stuck on with Scaler at the moment.

By working this way, I can see and, most importantly hear, as the song is played out and make changes easily within Scaler.

When I’m happy with the finished song, I can drag the components into the correct positions in Logic.

The next stage is to work from that basic song foundation in Logic and fill out the song.

I don’t know if this helps anyone, but it gave me something to do.

Step 5: Produce your track in Scene view but don’t drag and drop into Arrangement view just yet.

Produce your track in Scene view and build it down as you go so;
Scene 1- Intro
Scene 2- Verse
Scene 3- Pre verse
Scene 4- Verse
Scene 5- Chorus
etc etc.

Then hold shift+record and hit play from scene 1 to allow it all to record to the Arrangement view. (Remember to allow your scenes to jump to the next scene at your bar lengths desire.)

Then on Arrangement view make further adjustments.

For Ableton Live users only?

Yes, for Ableton Live users.

We can do something similar with Regions in Reaper. In fact, that’s what I do for my songs: one Region is one part e.g. Region 1=Intro, Region 2= verse , etc. Similar to what Ronnie explained.
One Region can be selected, so we can use it as a scene and loop. I have no problem with jumping to the next Region (“Scene”) because my controller (Arturia KeyLab MKII) already has this functionality. For those who don’t have controller with a similar functionality, maybe there is something in Actions to do so. If this exists, several controllers can be used to jump e.g. nanoKontrol 2 with its “Marker” section, or LaunchPad .

Still learning about this.

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This emulates Ableton Session View in Reaper, as I understand it.

Create Regions you’ll need for your song:

Install free SWS extension, there is a ton of useful Actions.
Of course, there is an Action to jump and select the next Region or marker:

Just type “next region” in the Filter box (1) and you’ll see the list. Select SWS: Goto/select next marker/region (2).
Click Add (3) to assign this Action to a keyboard shortcut or control on the MIDI controller. A dialog will pop up with a “Shortcut” field selected (4). Press the controller key or take a shortcut. Once this was done, click on OK (5). Shortcut or e.g. CC value will be displayed in the Shortcut field (6).

Do the same for the Previous marker/region.

After setting the Regions and shortcuts (or setup controller buttons or similar), select the first Region e.g. Intro and play or record. You can set a loop button in the Main menu:

Depending on your Reaper theme, this button may have a different look.

From here, you can use your shortcut or controller to go on the fly to the next Region e.g. Verse. It will be automatically selected so the loop will apply on it. Then goto and select the next region, etc.
If you want, you can stop playing in a specific Region (stop button/space bar or just unselect loop).
Or, if you like, while playing, jump directly to previous/next Region on the fly, from any part of any current Region.

well, I have many different processes, and each one depends on the instrument I select Scaler as a driver for

just search in this forum for my tutorials, and you’ll see