User-Defined Phrase-Editing - Synfire-like Figure-Editing

Scaler is fantastic in generating MIDI pattern based on User-defined parameters and marrying it with music theory.

In this regard Scaler is similar with Synfire from Cognitone although approaches and implementation are very different.

What lends me more to Scaler is its super-sharp focus (not trying to offer DAW-like functions), a modern yet simple UI, an agile dev-team combined with a active and large community.

Nevertheless Scaler is missing User-defined Phrase-Editing, which limts creativity to some degree (complaining on a high level).

I think the Scaler-dev team might become inspired by the way how Synfire offers User-defined phrase editing.

Here’s video demoing it:

My understing is that phrases are built in Synfire by seperating Harmony from played Notes by a concept they call figure (which does not encode specific pitch values but rather relative pitch and note length), which can be manipulated extremly well. To me its a very compelling user-friendly (intuitive, recyclable) paradigm and seems very powerful.

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There is one way in which Synfire and Scaler are quite different

Synfire is up to 26 X more expensive than Scaler. I haven’t looked at it in any detail, but for me it would have to be pretty spectacular in functionality to justify that magnitude of difference in price. Scaler is cheap enough just to buy it to try it, and delete if it was not what you wanted. I’d draw the line at EUR 450 for the cheapest Synfire version to do that. That’s more than Live standard …


My post was intended to inspire dev team to look into a cool functionality.

Hi @Cliff understood; your response is well noted and and I think there are clearly things in there that might catalyse thoughts from the Scaler team. My comment was a personal observation of the significant price difference, as that might possibly be an indicator of future cost increases from incorporating such processing, as well as whether one would buy it speculatively.

Scaler’s pricing strategy would indicate (I’m guessing - I have no idea) that they are after a wider market than Cognitone aspires to with the flagship product.

I’ll look at the videos and try and get a handle of its positioning.

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I agree. I am not saying that the idea can’t be expressed to let the Devs know what users might want but, and this is the big thing, the price difference and copyright protection is massive against the cost of Scaler. If Scaler became it’s own DAW as some users would like, I would think the cost would increase exponentially as well. Again, not saying not to bring features like this to the Devs to mull over but with great power sometimes comes great price. I personally would like to see some Hollywood Opus-type MIDI editing in Scaler but not expecting it. But I do believe even greater things are on the horizon for the future of Scaler.

I curious if you’ve tried Synfire? I remember looking into this some years ago but the cost factor was too great. There is a demo version so I may look into that. Have you used the demo?

Looking back over the Cognitone website it looks as though (based on price) their equivalent to Scaler is the HN2 LE for 49 euros. Hard to tell all it does but based on the comparison chart I think Scaler would have more features then this for the price.
The HN2 full version goes for 149 Euros and the song building looks interesting but again I think Scaler offers more then this for a third the price. It only works outside a DAW so I would give it a minus for that.
The rest of their offering is far outside the Scaler price range so Scaler holds up pretty darn well for price and ease of use.
Cool ideas in there though.

I think that tick by tick, Scaler has it, after watching the videos. Scaler’s value for money is market beating.

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I agree. It had been a long time since I have visited Synfire and really had forgotten about it. It’s been around a long time and yet no one in any music/composer forums I frequent talk about it at all.
I just watched a walk through of building a song from scratch with Synfire and Ableton. At the end of 40 minutes they had a unimpressive piece of music that I think could have been done in Scaler in half the time or less and possibly sound better. Synfire is only up to version 2.
Again, not saying that it isn’t impressive software but I think that it should be further along then it is based on how long it’s been around.
My money is on Scaler for now.

@Cliff That is quite impressive on the speed of that. The engine behind it though, I don’t see how that would be an easy thing to implement in the Scaler engine how it currently stands. I would love to see Cubase or other DAWs add this sort of thing. Very powerful.

This one on Counterpoint in Synfire is interesting.

But again, this engine is vastly different.

Looks cool will check it out. Full editing features are being brainstormed atm so these suggestions are food for thought. Thanks.

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I have tried the demo of synfire twice and spent a significant amount of time reading the manual and trying to get familiar with its workflow. Despite that, I just couldn’t get on with it. As noted earlier, the issue is that the basic idea of synfire is great, but the software tries to do too much which is “daw like” and dilutes that basic idea. And the core idea is of melodies being defined independently of the chord/scale they are played in (what synfire calls a ‘figure’), so that a chord/scale has to be specified before any ‘figure’ can be turned into actual notes.

Rapid Composer by Music Developments (which in my view is much more accessible than synfire, not to mention cheaper) has a similar idea with what it calls phrases.

Scaler’s first emphasis is on identify scale and chord progressions, and the melodic part has only developed later with the addition of ‘performances’ as an alternative means of playing chord notes rather than simply playing or strumming the notes of a given chord. My guess is that introducing the ability for the user to define and edit melodies within scaler would be quite a significant task for the developers. I agree it would be great if it could do it. But I suspect that, given the resources at Davide and co’s disposal, other ideas which evolve the product more incrementally will be preferred by them as a ‘safer’ development strategy.

In the meantime, Rapid Composer and Scaler work quite well together if you understand what each can do. For example, you can take the ‘performances’ from Scaler and import them as phrases to be used in Rapid Composer. And you can drag and drop chord progressions from scaler into Rapid Composer.


I´m using Harmony Navigator Advanced since many years and I´m pretty happy with it. It´s a brilliant software with a huge knowledge programmed into it. However it is much more deeper going into the creation of a song than scaler does. Though you can do everything with scaler as well but in a different approach. To me Scaler is brilliant to sketch an idea very quick and dirty. A more deeply understanding of the different dependencies of chords you will find in HN2. Both together is a perfect combination. By the way, the invest in HN2 advanced version is worth it.

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synfire have no realtime play. there is a simular program rapid composer. In the V4 there can do lots more and it is not so expensive.

User defined phrase editing i think usefull for saler too. important to scaler to add i think when it can create a harmony on played solo notes depend on the chords. this feature have arranger keyboards. here is a short example video. How to use the Harmony/Echo on Yamaha Tyros 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. - YouTube there are many settings how the additional voice is create in realtime depend on melody note and chords. if such a feature scaler can get too is amazing

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Hi Thomass - Nice to hear from someone that actually uses the product. I was comparing price points and it is good to know that the advanced version of HN2 would be worth exploring. It isn’t too far out of range. Too bad they don’t have a demo of HN2. Still a out of my comfort zone after Covid has caused such economic chaos. I may try the Demo of Synfire. Have you used that at all?

Yes, tried that as well but was a bit too complicated for me at that time. Also you need to work with it very constantly otherwise it makes no sense to spent that much money. But it’s a fine work and outstanding composer software.

I’m checking out Rapid Composer now. I’ll let you know how it goes. None of these types of composer helpers is as fast as Scaler for chords and ideas though. None are real time as well. Orb Producer can give interesting results but there is no AI involved that I can see. It’s still a random generator and if you like something and want to make a small change, it’s not possible. If Scaler heads into this territory I trust them to keep the real time usability of it.

Jamieh - Rapid Composer takes some time to get your head around, and you are right it is not real time. But it is very powerful once you understand it.

Orb Producer suite isn’t random in its melody generation (its partly derived from a product called Orb Composer) but it can sometimes seem like it, and you are right that it isn’t easy to edit what it generates without it regenerating the whole thing.

I have tried most of the melody generating plug-ins on the market (I think), and the one I have got best results from is EVA’s melody sauce. I don’t entirely know why, but it seems to generate output with more obvious “call and response” type repetition than other generators. Melody sauce does not work with a pre-existing chord, you simply tell it what scale to work in and it generates a melody in that.

If you want to generate melodies using only specific chord notes, you could give chord potion a look. Phrasebox also works on the basis of chord notes.

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@barza Thanks for your reply. I am demoing Rapid Composer now. It is not intuitive in anyway and requires lots of clicking around. I think it would be a good tool and certainly much more affordable then Synfire.
I have all the melody generators out there as well. Yes even Melody Sauce. None I find very appealing. A true AI should be interactive meaning that as you get closer to what you seek you should be able to tell it “More like this” and variations should be a logical extension of this.
I hope that Scaler as it evolves can bring some of the generative elements of these big cumbersome tools and streamline them in their usual way.
I remember trying an earlier version of Rapid Composer and didn’t like it at all. This version 4 has more of what I want to see in the tools although the Demo doesn’t let me try the Markov Orchestral tool that I am interested in. 40% Summer sale so it’s tempting if I find it useful. I do mostly Film/Game type music and experimental stuff but I want a good foundation of real theory and not just randomness.