scale marker

a simple feature that can help a lot for begginers
to marker in the key editor the keys in the scale im using
so i can use only the keys from that scale…

what we have now is the ability to see if im not in the correct key of the scale
but to marker the specific scale in the key editor will help a lot

please no. There’s enough clutter and complex options as it is. If Cubase could be set to some kind of beginner’s mode that represses some things, and a regular mode that suppresses other (rudimentary music knowledge) things, then maybe. But in the meantime, there’s no substitute for learning the basics. Diatonic scales are not that confusing.

Step 1: learn the circle of 5ths: C G D A E B F# C#; C F Bb Eb Ab Db Gb. Go play those notes on the piano and notice how they make sense to the ear and the hand. Or look at the guitar. Tuned in 4ths (mostly). E A D G is part of the circle, going backwards.

Step 2: Learn how many sharps go with each key. C0, G+1, D+2, etc. How many flats C0, F-1, Bb-2, etc.

Step 3: Find the sharps visually. The pattern is 3 black keys and 2 black keys. The next sharp is taken according to a pattern. It goes F#, (C#). G#, (D#), A#. The ones in parenthesis come from the 2 black key set. They are in order, left to right. The ones not in parenthesis come from the 3 black key set. They are also in order, left to right. Notice how they are interleaved. Go play them on the piano. Hey, 5ths again! This is also the order they appear on the staff if you want to get into reading and writing. As for the flats, it’s the same pattern, but in mirror image. Bb, (Eb), Ab, (Db), Gb. Play them too. Descending 5ths, going right to left. Again, that’s how they are written on the staff when you make a key signature.

Now the key editor shouldn’t boggle your mind, just your eyes (with all those very many lines). It’s trickier if you want to get into melodic minor scales, blues scales, and so on, but start with the majors and you’re mostly there already.

Sorry if being pedantic, but you’re not going to get far not knowing this. Just trying to help.

So an option, disabled by default (i.e. something you’d never need to deal with unless you wanted to) to color the keys based on the scale would add too much clutter & complexity? Hard to imagine how.

Sorry if being pedantic, but you’re not going to get far not knowing this. Just trying to help.

Your’re making an assumption that other folks can/should think in the same manner you do. I’ve got a learning disability (discalculia) that makes it very difficult to visualize or memorize some types of patterns. So while I’m pretty solid knowing the notes in the C Major scale :slight_smile: , in Eb Major, not so much (I keep a chart at hand that shows the notes for all the scales & modes). However this limitation has zero impact on my ability to understand music theory in a generalized I, ii, iii, IV… way of thinking about it. So I may know & understand why I want to use a iii chord in Eb, but still need to look at my chart (or count on my fingers) to figure out that is a Gm chord.

When Cubase added the ability to color notes in the Key Editor based on scales & chords it made a huge difference in my being able to quickly and accurately see what was going on. Similarly the ability to see a scale color coded onto the keyboard would be beneficial. After all the C Major scale is color coded onto the keyboard and that has value, right? You even wrote about black and white keys. Color coding would merely add additional information that some would find useful while others, like you, would not. For them just don’t use it - again it is hard to imagine how doing that causes any type of burden (personally I’ve been ignoring the existence of LoopMash for years without detriment).

Odds are the OP and I have totally different reasons & needs to want this coloring. Everyone of us learns things in a unique individual manner appropriate to them. You shouldn’t proclaim that what someone else finds useful cannot be of value just because it doesn’t align with the way you think and process information.

Longest +1 ever… :wink:

I’d like to clarify my position a bit.

(1) I agree with the idea of having this sort of thing available as an option, and suggested a beginner’s mode. There’s a deeper issue here, involving interface customization as an antidote to information overload caused by the burgeoning number of features.

(2) I don’t want to fight anyone. The post was getting long winded, so I tried to be terse. Realizing that this might be misread as “talking down”, I added the P.S… Honestly, it took me years to discover a shortcut to learning the key signatures. Of all the people I’ve shared this with, only one said it was obvious. Maybe it is, so I felt the need to express some humility. I want a world where more people are empowered to make music, where we help each other.

(3) Re: Navigating harmonic theory in multiple keys. I don’t even try. The deeper issue is how to allocate learning capacity.

Section 1: Getting Key Signatures Out of the Left Brain

Academic music education seems to favor a mathematical and memory intensive approach, which I find kills creativity. It’s no good knowing how to write out an augmented chord if you don’t know how to use it. That means you have to know it personally – its moods, its friends, its happy places. Same thing with key signatures. This is how I’m trying to approach it in steps 2 and 3 above. When music is written down, it becomes twice removed from true nature, which is about feel. We use sound to do this, so thinking about sound instead of feel takes us a step away. When we write instructions about how to make the sound, that’s another step.

If you play middle C, go up to G, down to D, up to A, etc. – almost like a Hannon exercise – and you count 0, 1, 2, 3, etc. as you go, then you will “know” the sharp side of the circle of 5ths without even being aware of what the notes are called. It will be a tangible thing, a kinesthetic and auditory thing. (Flats: play middle C down to F, up to B flat, down to E flat, etc… Count 0, 1, 2, etc. as you go.)

Likewise, it would be easy if the sharps appeared in successive key signatures in the order F# G# A# C# D#. But it’s almost that easy. The 2 packages are interleaved, and can be understood physically by playing F# up to C# down to G#, and so on. Once you play this, you can even forget what these notes are called. I do.

In my mind, there’s no key of Eb major. There’s the key of 3 flats. Tonality is far more nuanced than most people think, so even the concept of a major key is questionable. Given that there are 3 flats, all you need to know is how to find them, and I’m showing how that’s easy. When you acclimatize your mind to their presence, it’s just a little shift in expression, like talking with a french accent.

Other people call it Eb major, or C minor, or Bb mixolydian, or some such thing. Ask me what the submediant chord of Eb major is, and it’ll take me a while. I have to translate: “submediant = iii”, “Eb major = 3 flats”, keyboard of the mind goes Eb, F, G, so G is iii, iii means minor, so G minor. Very unnatural, worthless to me, and nobody asks anyway.

Section 2: Harmony Theory in Multiple Keys

If I really need to work something out, I first transpose to the key of 0 sharps (AKA C-major AKA A-minor). It’s very familiar. Had I instead decided to learn the corresponding harmonic relationships in A flat, in E, and so on, I would have had less time to understand it in C, so I would have understood less in C than I do. I can also think pretty well in the nearby keys of +1 and -1 sharps (AKA G and F), since they are natural extensions of C, along with C blues, various pentatonic scales, and scales based on jazz chords.

Likewise, if I have to analyze an orchestral score, I’ll transpose everything to concert pitch (using software). I’m not that great at reading music as it is, having spent my efforts elsewhere. Classical musicians and people in large ensembles need good reading skills . I’m not in those groups.

The running theme is that we shouldn’t and don’t learn stuff we can’t use. It’s especially true for DAW operators trying to write, perform, produce, and promote. Any one of those fields can swallow you whole with plenty of room to spare. You get spread too thin, so you prioritize, you delegate, and you accelerate your learning.

Section 3: Delegating to Technology

We turn to sequencers and other technology as a method of delegation. I can barely play the drums, but I can imagine what I want them to play. I can go to Beat Designer, or the Drum Editor and do all of it without having to bother a real drummer, or learning how to master and mic a drum kit. Likewise with elaborate keyboard parts. Technology also saves me money. Cubase gives me all the gear I’d want in a professional recording studio for $600! Another successful delegation.

Section 4: Complexity Management

Questions arise. “What can’t we delegate to technology?” “What shouldn’t we delegate to technology?” Each of us has our own answers, so the temptation is to make everything available, and you choose what works for you. As an unfortunate consequence of this ideal, we are confronted with a plethora of undesired features mixed with the features we want. What to do about this?

I’m become wary of new features, not because I want to make life easy for myself at someone else’s expense, but because it makes Steinberg spread itself too thinly, and Cubase seems to lack a good strategy for managing interface complexity. We agree that color coding keys in the diatonic scale of your choice is OK to have, but should be disabled by default. Where’s the on/off switch?

I recently watched a video tour of Reaper and was impressed by how their interface was so clean and customizable. I don’t think Cubase should try to be like Reaper. That would disrupt existing Cubase users. We do have window layout tools that allow some customization. We also have a wealth of preferences. That seems like the best place to put a scale note colorization option.

Section 5: Back to the Original Dispute

As a child, I had a battery-powered organ with colored keys. The songbook that came with it had all the notes in colors that matched the keys. Bringing this idea to Cubase, we could colorize the notes in both the score editor and the key editor. (Have the tonic in pink, the dominant in blue, the subdominant in green, and so on.) If anyone finds this idea condescending, you are not alone. It embarrassed me at age 10. I think of Cubase as “the composers’ DAW”, a serious professional tool.

On the other hand, a person might come to the world of DAWs with weak to non-existent knowledge of scales. Perhaps they have “golden ears” and fine production skills. Perhaps they are a self-taught performer. Perhaps they are very young. Whatever the case may be, there’s no reason not to give them a little help. So fine. Let’s go for colored scale notes. We already have chord assistant and acoustic agent, not to mention countless loops and arpeggios is HALion. All of these things are available, all can be ignored. They all could be empowering for whoever decides they want to delegate this or that job to technology.

As more of these little features are added, it might be a good idea for Cubase preferences to allow us to exclude menu items that lead to places we know we’ll never want to go. That would certainly satisfy my concerns about growing complexity.