Tips to use Scaler as a learning tool vs. a crutch?

I just picked up Scaler 2. Great tool, nothing else like it as far as I am concerned. I have a decent background in music theory having played guitar for 20 years and mono synths for about 8 years. I picked up my first poly synth so I want to go deeper on chords.

I’m making fantastic sounding stuff with Scaler, but for the most part I feel while what’s coming out is great, it’s just not me. I’d like to avoid using algorithms as a crutch and allow the tool to augment by creative DNA a bit more. Hope that makes sense.

I know this is sort of open-ended/general, but would love to hear tips or suggested videos of anyone who has a similar goal when using Scaler in their creative workflow.

My level of music theory is sort of OK, but from a guitar perspective, rather than keyboards, so very familiar with modes etc.

Yes, in Scaler you can pick a ‘song’ for a progression, and then overlay that with a ‘performance’ (about 780,000 different basic configurations. That’s good as a base starting point for ideas.

But you can also just pick a Scale, and section B will give the harmonised chords related to that scale. You can then do your own progression - try the different voicings, hit ‘suggest’ for things you might not have thought about. Fiddle with ‘borrowed’ chords, maybe. Or go the the Neo-Riemannian function for creative modulations; sure to be some options there you have probably not tried before.

There plenty of programs now of the “hit a button and get a song” variety, which can be quite good. They are a sort of musical cocaine giving you instant gratification after a quick snort. IMHO Scaler is not one of those, and nor does it aspire to be. It’s more like eating your greens for long term health. The brains behind Scaler, @davide and his team, chose a strap line “enable the Composer within” and that is what it does,

In my view, it’s the best broad music learning tool, from both a practical and theoretical perspective, I’ve ever used.

PS: Even the long term users here find themselves discovering new things tried by other users… there is a lot of stuff which is sort of hidden… ( e.g. @TMacD feeds Scaler output back into Scaler to do weird things)
Essentially, the manual says “Scaler comes with 5 pots of paint ; blue yellow red, green and black. If you dip your paint brush (say) into the green pot and move that over a canvas, you will get a green line.”

It’s up to you whether you end up with some random coloured lines or an artistic masterpiece. The lack of a rigid framework is its key differentiator over seemingly related products.


I believe this is true for me as well. As @yorkeman says Scaler is not trying to be an app that composes for you. It’s a study tool and brain stimulator that helps you when you get stuck, see something you haven’t seen before or say “Cool, I never thought of that chord in this progression!”
It’s more akin to a slide ruler then a juke box. You just need to take the red pill. :wink:


Thanks for the input. This all helps. I think I’ve been going about it the wrong way. Watched a ton of videos which got me adding progressions to section C and layering in performance modes. It felt a little algorithmic to me, then I watched this video which really opened up how to use it as a performance enhancer vs. generator. “Slider ruler” really makes sense in the context.

One man’s weird is another man’s inspiration. :slight_smile:

Seriously though… I could not agree with more with @yorkeman. or @jamieh Scaler is a fantastic tool for building and enhancing ideas. While I am probably the least musically competent Scaler fanatic here, I am amazed by the layers that exist w/in this little musical gift. Since I’m not often focused on actually creating songs, much of my time is spent exploring the edges of Scaler, constantly toying with combinations of settings to see what magically appears. For me, Scaler is much more than a chord exploration tool and I rarely use it in that way. Instead, I focus on the performance modes, playing them directly with Scaler forcing my timing and in a composite form. They are an unending source of inspiration and musical serendipity.

Good luck with Scaler. You’ve stumbled into an amazing world.

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I completely understand this. I’d suggest looking at Scaler as a collaborator. Let Scaler show you new sounds and then make those your own. Also, Scaler is excellent at detecting your own chords therefore you need not even look at any of the Performance options, Songs or Artist progressions. Use Scaler, don’t let it use you. :slight_smile:

Good luck with the process.

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