YT tutorial on automating phrase-based instruments with scaler

This one is a lot about workflow as it began with me trying to build a Bitwig template to take care of all the things I usually do when I start a new project. I always start with Scaler. This might also be interesting to people who don’t have Bitwig but are Bitwig curious. Could be an insight into why some experienced producers are switching to Bitwig. Take the challenge to implement the same thing in your own DAW and see how you it compares…

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Great stuff but way over complicated

I use EZkeys / Ezbass / Ezdrummer

You can just select midi out to any vst guitar keys strings bass. And run them all in sync with ease and very intuitive easy to use interface !

I use them as a controller for everything

Changing midi blocks by drag and dropping across instruments

You can also put scaler in front to run them and. Drag midi blocks between both to get you starts


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This is very similar to my workflow with Scaler and how I route it to VST instruments. Also a major reason why I switched to Bitwig as DAW from Ableton.

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Hi Bernd hope you well ? Can you give your pro and cons on bitwig ? I’m using Logic Pro !

What midi functions are you using ? How is it better than ableton ? Have you used Logic !

Are you using EZ in bitwig ?

I may have a look at bitwig ? Seems over complicated and lots of stuff I wouldn’t typically use ?

Yes, that is likely true for many classical producers, I have heard that a lot.
I too come from a software/IT background, and enjoy tinkering with options and parameters, but for more music focused producers, this may be indeed a distraction.

My motivation to switch to Bitwig from Ableton was largely driven by Bitwig’s ability to daisy-chain, nest, and stack multiple VSTs in one track, instead of having to route MIDI across multiple tracks, since Ableton cannot route MIDI between non-native (3rd party VSTs) plugins in the same track.

The other benefit of Bitwig is that any parameter can be modulated in myriads of ways, which lends itself well for generative and aleatoric music and instrument ensembles. Not everybody’s cup of tea, but mine :slight_smile:

As for trying out Logic, I am on the Windows/PC platform, and I don’t think it is available there. Plus, I am done exploring the DAW ecosystem, with Bitwig I have found what I need. I also have a FL Studio license, which is an interesting DAW from a UI standpoint, and I love that you don’t need to pay for upgrades, but it has the same MIDI routing limitations as Ableton.

If I can add to what Bernd has already described, I also come from a programming (and data modelling) background. The approach in this video is akin to “normalising” your model set by eliminating redundant entities. So I’ve done that by having a “command” clips to orchestrated everything. Only Bitwig allows for total and thorough automation like this at the DAW level. The key plugin in my template was the “note receiver” plugin which can be flexibly inserted anywhere in any chain on any track or bus. It can optionally block other incoming midi streams and even nest dedicated midi-processors inside itself. There is simply no other DAW which supports this paradigm.

This is typical of ALL their midi anipulator plugins for which there are MANY!

And then there are the modulators which can modulate any parameter on either native or 3rd party plugins. Some DAWs will implement somthing similar but not to the same extent that BW does and they don’t have nearly as many modulation tools.

BW is quite simple the MOST FLEXIBLE and most powerful DAW there is when it comes to creating creating new music or sound design because of these things. I really like the way data flows through tracks and plugins as well. It’s like there are two pipes going through each track and you can tap into these pipelines at any stage. Even if a 3rd party plugin does not pass midi through, you can still tap it. It’s unreal. I have licenses for many DAWs over the years (I like experimenting) although I don’t have cubase, protools, FL Studio, or Logic (the most popular ones). Although I have Ableton 10, Reaper, Reason Studio, Tracktion Waveform, Harrison Mixbus, Studio ONE, and Cakewalk. This doesn’t include exotic tools like FastTracker (based on Amiga SoundTracker), Buzz Machines, and Sunvox. I’ve been using Ableton since version 3 and when Bitwig 2 came along are began making the transition. I still use Studio ONE for mixing bands because it’s more suited to that but I could do the same job in BW if I wanted to.

BW is for creating new stuff. It’s not great if you have over 100 tracks to manage. There is no track manager. It doesn’t have professional features like SMTE or anything like that but it’s the best at what it does. I think the analogue equivalent would be eurorack modular. You can wired up anything if you have the imagination for it and you can have endless fun exprimenting with weird configurations.

If you want to see someone who is a top level EDM composer who switched to BW after using Cubase for years, check out Dash Glitch. I’ve been following him since before he switched. He has some videos where he explains his decision process. But everyone is different. It may not be for you.

I have EZ Keys 2 (upgraded from the first one). I like using it too but I tend to make Scaler the basis of all my stuff and then I will load the chords into EZ Keys to get lovely phrases out of it.

BW is clunky when it comes to drag’n’drop. It encapsulates everything (midi or audio) with in a “clip” (container) so when you drop a clip onto EZ Keys, it has no idea what to do with it (because it’s not midi). So you have to be content to record the midi into it (realtime (tedious)) or save the midi to disk and then load it directly from within the plugin menu. Similar deal with audio, but at least you can open audio up in the clip editor and grab direct audio from the audio header inside the clip and drag it onto plugins like Serato Sample. It’s annoying but not a deal-breaker. I should do a video explaining all of that. I really think the BW team need to “fix” that perceived problem because it’s counter-intuitive for the new user.

Anyway, thanks for checking out my video. Sorry it took so long for me to get back to this thread.

Great in depth video. Similar to how I use Bitwig with or without Scaler. I would have liked to see how you get Ample guitars to recognize Scalers chord output, as it’s a bit hit and miss with the chord recognition.

I might do a video on that. One of the reasons I can no longer switch from bitwig to anything else is because I can filter the range of notes that plugins like scaler generate to make sure it fits into the key range of instgruments like ample guitars which have key-switches sharing the input.

One of the reasons I hate key switchers is because of this - you can’t just throw notes of random ranges without worrying about musical notes “treading on” key switches.

So on the Ample Guitar track, I use first the “Note Transpose” tool to bring scaler into range of Ample’s musical register (ie. the guitar’s voice range), then I add bitwig’s not filter and set the low and high to match Ample’s. If I’m tapping scaler via the Note Receiver, then I unselect “mute input” and I add midi clips dedicated to key switches (with no music).

If you don’t do this, you think its faulty. It’s not, that scaler sending notes outside of the instrument’s range. Then when some of those notes tread on keyswitches and random results ensue.

Bitwig is the only DAW with the tools to effectively reign that in. This is why it’s the perfect DAW for scaler - a match made in heaven.

Thats why my experience with Ample guitars (I own 3 of them) and Bitwig is flawless.

EDIT: I just realised I’ve covered it in a recent tutorial. Check out from 11:20 into the video. In this case the notes are coming from scaler, into phrasebox (turns chords into a bassline), and then into modo bass. I do filtering in between phrasebox but this time, I go the extra mile and fold out of range notes back into range that are within 1 octave outside of the acceptable note zone of modo bass.

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The key switches aren’t a problem really. It’s Ample sounds chord recognition that’s too complex. I will check out the video, thanks :+1:t2:

Oh I think I see what you mean.
Ample has a “keyboard” mode which removes the limitations of realistic fingering on guitars.

Or if you want to keep the realism, scaler has a “guitar voicing” under the VOICE GROUPING menu which I find useful for guitars.

But yeah it’s tricky. I don’t fully understand how Ample makes decisions for that. I’m not a guitarist.

I’ve tried all sorts of combinations for both those options, and I think nothing beats the chord recognition for realism. Unfortunately, if your chord isn’t a simple triad or 7th, then it struggles to interpret it correctly.

My theory is that it will leave out notes if it can’t marshal them into a chord shape that is playable. If thats the goal, then it might get some of those calls wrong - especially if you can pull it off in real life but it’s algorithm doesn’t agree.

A good person to chat with would be Reuben from HiFi MIDI youtube channel. He does a lot of Ample Guitar videos and knows this stuff inside out.
Perhaps drop a comment here

Also have you emailed the developers? If you do, I would be interested to hear what they say.

I can add that Bitwig is very stable (a Pros) but it is very fussy with MIDI controllers (a Cons) and I was unable to have mine working :japanese_goblin:
and yes, I tried the online tricks, but I found that too much cumbersome for my tastes

but the worse aspect is that Bitwig never recognized some tools I use much like Izotope’s Relay and Visual mixer and Toontrack Audio Sender, and this is why I resold my license with zero regrets

Ableton is certainly unstable YUK, e.g. it always crashes when I close a project :cold_face:, but I am accustomed to this bad behavior and I don’t mind it anymore

Bitwig allows you to choose how it handles plugins. For more stability, it can isolate (in memory) individual plugins so that if the plugin goes down, it takes nothing else with it. All the way to having all plugins run in Bitwig memory where any plugin will take down the whole program. THis has implications for plugins that communicate to other things - like the plugins you mentioned. They will run but then you must make sure Bitwig is putting them all in the same sandbox. Here’s the setting with me electing them to be grouped by manufacturer so that plugins like scaler can communicate with all other plugins from the same producer. It’s essential to know this when using Bitwig.

Virtually yes
Actually nope
the plugins I mentioned don’t work, devs know that, and are clearly unable/uninterested to fix bugs
and, likely because they sell dedicated controllers, they have no intention to make things simple for people like me that insist using cheap controllers :upside_down_face:

That said, Bitwig has many things that are lacking in Ableton, but those things are useless to me, so I prefer the easier-to-use Ableton