How to keep phrases restricted to a specific key?

I cannot figure out how to restrict phrases to a specific key.

For example:

  1. Set scale to C Major
  2. Bind MIDI in Section B
  3. Click Perform
  4. Choose Phrases - Con Amore - Battaglia
  5. Play the note F

The phrase for the F maj chord will play a B flat.
I find this confusing because B flat is not part of the C major scale. I expected scaler to always force the generated phrase into the current key.

Is it not possible to keep the generated phrases restricted to the selected key (e.g. C Major)?

Apologies if I’m missing something. I’ve gone through the manual and searched and still can’t figure out how to make phrases lock to a key.

Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!


Welcome to the Scaler forums. :slight_smile:

As I recall the video tutorial does mention that some of the performances have “hard wired” notes that may be incompatible with some Scales/Keys. I have noticed this here and there. What I’ve done in those cases is to print the MIDI to a MIDI track and then edit the few out of scale notes. Of course, then, you must turn off the Performance.

When I hit such a place I use my MIDI Controller and unbind Scaler. I like the internal sounds, but mostly use Scaler to drive and print parts for other instruments.

Some kind of “pitch quantize” might be “nice.” I realize this may not be a perfect solution, but I’ve used it to adjust the odd note that shows in a given performance. I often find that I’m starting parts start with performance mode but doing further editing/recording to improve the part.


Hi @leicl

@1stInversion is right, in “chord” mode, the phrases are resolved against a scale that depends on the chord you are playing. So when you play an F Maj chord, it will play the phrase content in F major scale and contain notes out of the C major scale.

You can however switch to “scale” mode in the settings panel. In this mode, the phrase will be adapted to the currently selected scale. It will not depend on the chord played anymore and you won’t have to manually edit the notes. :wink:

Screen Shot 2020-12-19 at 8.25.53 am Screen Shot 2020-12-19 at 8.25.48 am

If you want to get into more customization, drag the chord into Section C and open the Edit playback mode. Here, you can set each chord to “scale” mode and select any scale supported by Scaler. When playing back your progression the phrase content will be generated in the selected scale.

It can get a little overwhelming with all the different modes, but it gives you virtually infinite possibilities for adapting the content to your own style.


The more I learn how to use this plug-in the more I like it.

Thanks for that instruction.


Thank you @1stInversion !

Your solution is exactly the one that I’ve been using! I’m new to Scaler, but I think the thing that really sets it apart from other plugins I’ve tried is the performances/phrases. I would really love if a ‘foolproof’ in-key mode could be added that makes it unnecessary to have to go back and make edits or use workarounds. But, the more I learn Scaler the more I really like it. It’s such a powerful tool.

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Thank you @Ed1 !

I appreciate you taking the time to respond!

Your Section C idea sounds very powerful. I’m going to try getting deeper with this concept.

The ‘scale based’ mode feels limiting to me because of how the melody always stays in a fixed position. One workaround I’ve tried is to use the key switch to temporarily use ‘scale mode’ on any notes that create phrases outside of the key.

I really think adding a universal ‘in key’ mode would bring Scaler’s power to a new level. Either way, I’m still blown away by the power and depth of Scaler.

There a fine line between making everything 100% compatible and less interesting. Remember these phrases are made by musicians and producers where adding harmonic nuisances is what makes tracks special. Sometimes they don’t translate everywhere but as mentioned before there is always the flexibility of dragging and editing in DAW. We have plans for the future which will make all of this more malleable.


@davide I completely understand what you are saying about maintaining the integrity of the artist’s original intention when they crafted the phrases.

I think a perfect solution would be to have 2 modes.

  1. 'Purist’ Mode: Scaler’s current behavior
  2. ‘Conformist’ Mode: forces phrase notes to the nearest ‘in key’ scale tone

For me, the current implementation is a workflow killer. I would like to create a custom chord progression and then experiment with phrases in the key I’ve chosen to work in. I’d never want to hear ‘out of key’ notes by default. Dragging and editing in the DAW just slows the creation process down.

Scaler is such an amazingly customizable piece of software, so it just makes no sense to me why it should not be flexible in the phrases area as well.

I’m only harping on about this because I’m genuinely impressed by Scaler. Unlike other similar plugins, I could really see Scaler becoming a genuine part of my writing workflow.

Looking forward to seeing what Scaler will offer in the future!

I like the suggestion but may I ask how many phrases are playing out of key even when in Chord based mode. Using traditional scaler I would hope the answer is not many?

Doing a quick test in C major under the ‘Con Amore’ category there were six phrases that went outside of the key:

Not the end of the world, but it’s common enough that I think having the option to force phrases into key would be useful and really help with workflow.

I’m not sure how much this is a problem in many respects. There are lots of music styles where one ventures outside the scale notes to phrase things in interesting ways. John Williams uses these kind of voicings all the time and it adds so much depth to the aural soundscape. Perhaps one might look at these as a learning experience on how things might be made to work. Again I think of Scaler as not doing everything for you but of opening doors that I might not have thought to open and leading down interesting paths. Just my opinion of course.

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I don’t think it’s a problem at all. I’m glad some of the performances have real character rather than just conforming to diatonic patterns. I have no objection to non-harmonic tones, passing tones, etc. used in performances. IMHO, they add to the party. It’s certainly easy enough to change a pitch or two that doesn’t work.

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My thoughts exactly.

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I would have just liked to see it as an option, like other parts of Scaler that can be forced into a key.

Apologies if it sounded like I was implying that Scaler should be dumbed down or discourage non-harmonic creativity and experimentation. Not the case at all!


Understood and taken on board, we appreciate all feedback thank you.