Select / highlight the scale to work with on the piano roll

A helper to work with scales in the Detail Editor Panel. The user would select a scale and the base note, and then the corresponding piano roll keys and event note lanes would be highlighted.

This feature would add some speed to the work with scales. It would help users without strong knowledge in music theory. This visual effect also looks good. :slight_smile:

What problem(s) would this feature resolve?

Currently Bitwig is not supporting natively scales from the piano roll / editor panel. This means that the user needs to know all notes within the scale they want to work with. The problem is bigger when one wants to try more exotic scales beyond Major and Minor.

How does this feature fit in Bitwig as a product?

Bitwig has a nice piano roll, but having this it will be even nicer.
Additionally I think Bitwig is simple DAW which is attracting starting producers / composers / enthusiasts or simply curious ppl, having such feature would help to keep that image of an easy DAW and maybe attract even more users.

Is there already an alternative way to achieve this on Bitwig?

A similar effect but without explicit control can be achieved by using the Key Filter device. You can select what scale you want to work with and it will offer different options to filter out unwanted notes.

It is also possible to “highlight” a scale using the layer editing mode, or filter notes out creating ghost notes and using the drum editing mode. However, users still need to enter the correct notes of each scale manually, and the process takes several steps. These methods are explained on

Could it be implemented using Bitwig components or APIs, without Bitwig team’s support?


Could it be provided by a VST or something else reasonably integrated with Bitwig?

There are sophisticated plugins like Scaler that assist users working with notes following music theory principles. These plugins tend to be paid and offer many more feature. For Bitwig users just aim to stay in key these plugins are an overkill.

Are there other products that offer this feature?

FL Studio implements this feature very well, and many Bitwig users coming from this DAW express how much they miss it.

Relevant links (optional)

Short demonstration of this feature on FL Studio:

Mattias Holmgren - Awesome Piano Roll Scale Tricks // Scale Guide in Bitwig Studio


7 posts were split to a new topic: [Draft discussion] Select / highlight the scale to work with on the piano roll

Since this type of feature was asked around many times before in other places, I had my own take on how it could be implemented.

Personally I would really like it if Bitwig’s pianoroll as well as virtual keyboard were optionally NoteFX-aware, that is to say if it could determine when either Key Filter (aka Diatonic transposer), Transposition Map or Note Transpose were used, and update the layout accordingly. Additionally a separate type of layout could be generated when Micro-pitch is used, especially in EDO mode (see example below).

This kind of approach would work well with already established workflow when you want to set something to specific scale, while avoiding horrible menu-diving. On the other hand I would appreciate some ‘smart’ note highlight feature like in FL’s pianoroll, when you don’t set specific scale and it just highlights where it would be logical to place next note to fit in one of few common scales. Even then that would be like menu with 3 options (no layout modification, NoteFX-aware, and smart highlight), instead of having a dropdown with huge list like Ableton or even worse with sub-menus like in FL.


Thanks for this post and new ideas how this could be implemented.

I second that. Bitwig menus are small and compact and this is what I like. Too many options are not always good, but you can have impression that you can do an awful lot.

I was thinking that maybe instead of menu, Inspector Panel could be used with dedicated pane for such kind of settings. When in edit mode and either Clip or Track is selected then additional settings are displayed giving you a clear overview what is happening.

When it comes to the Micro-Pitch visualization, this can be partially achieved if Micro-Pitch Expression Editing view is turned on. Displaying additional keyboard can be tricky as you change Micro-Pitch per note event and not globally. That could lead to a false belief that we are using some other keyboard layout, and what are the exact notes?

Could you elaborate more how this could look like for the feedback fx channel? (I just made that name)
I can imagine this for Key Filter for which you see only specific notes (or highlighted lines) that will go through the filter and this is intuitive. But how about Transposition Map or Note Transpose? This is more complicated as is modifying exact notes. And what if both are used?

If this request is clear (developer knows what is expected) then this can be possibly implemented. If we provide requirement that can be argued then probably we get not what we expected.

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I’m afraid inspector panel is already displaying settings related to track or clip, can’t really fit piano roll settings there so it wouldn’t conflict with other context. but good news is that we can have a compact switch somewhere here

I think you have missed the point. I was talking about Micro-Pitch device which has EDO mode, where you can set any number of notes per octave, and that results in whole keyboard remapping. that’s what the mockup was about. although I’ve put ‘C’ there even though any notes surrounding it would not match other traditional notes. So remapping is what device already does, I would just like to have it visually mapped in pianoroll

I missed the point. Sorry. With the device it makes more sense to put it in the request.

Maybe I do not see this clearly as I am working on 1440p screen and you probably are right.

I mean when you select a clip, you already have a bit of context overlap. you get settings of the clip and then right after it settings for current selection of notes inside of it. I think additionally putting pianoroll settings there would be a bit overwhelming, plus I don’t see the need really if it’s possible to just put few switches or dropdown box in pianoroll itself

Ok. I was referring to this Clip and Track:

You can select them and you will see dedicated panels in inspector. Menu option seems to be ok for that solution.

oh, these buttons aren’t just for switching inspector panel focus, they’re to switch pianoroll view to focus on clip isolated from context of a track or to show everything in the track. automation also works differently when moving content depending on what mode you have on.

Same as in FL Studio piano roll, Cubase or Ableton, with light rows being notes in the scale and dark rows being notes not in the scale. Pretty simple but super-effective when drawing chords and melodies!

Actually there are only 4 options under the note colors in the Midi Editor (Clip, Note Channel, Pitch Class and Velocity).

It would be great if we can colorize the notes according to a specific scale (or why not a chord track like cubase and Studio one).

==> The note events get different colors depending on whether they match the current chord or scale in the chord track.

==> So 5 options would be great ==> Clip, Note Channel, Pitch Class, Velocity and Scale and Chords



for the love of good, please get a good scale helper in Bitwig. Its so tedious to make shadow notes on another track every time I want to play with scales. I just hop over to cubase to do that.
Also a good chord builder with voices (number of voices up and down arrows).


For me the folds to scale is just to work faster. If I fold my piano roll to the respective scale it is easy to draw notes. If not it happens often that I draw a wrong not and change it up or down afterwards.
I would like to see an implementation like swing is implemented as a global per project setting. Means when I add a new midi clip it is already folded to the project scale and I can change in the inspector to a different scale per clip if needed. I don’t want to set it per midi clip ongoing. The user can decide not to set it in the project and can handle it per clip with different scales. So it is up to the user if and how he handle it.

Yes this would be a very useful feature. The work around is clumsy and slow.

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amen (please?)

Yes, this is very smart, functional, doesnt take screen space convoluting it with other options but instead relies on midi devices being selected which very much go towards the Bitwig paradigm. I love this idea

This feature is highly intertwined with “Introduce Chords” one.
A good full-featured enhancement for Piano Roll would probably need to support the following features/workflows:

  • Global track for scale/signature dynamic change, just like we have for tempo. See: Logic’s Signature track.

  • Global chord track. See: Logic’s Chord track.

  • Piano roll folding modes, easily changeable (single button/hotkey): “No folding/Existing only/Scale only”. Existing only: displays only the notes already present on the track; dynamically adapts. Scale only: displays only the notes of the scale, probably with useful hints (e.g. CDEFGAB titles on the keys, with sharp/flat signs specific for the current scale).

    • Problem: in the “only scale” mode, still needs the way to show the existing notes/allow enter notes, if they happen to be outside of scale.
  • Scale only should support “keep global scale” or “choose a specific scale”. The former is probably the “reasonable default”. The latter is useful if you want to see your piano roll stable in some scale no matter what happens with the global signature changes (and I can imagine cases when that’s useful).

  • When in “Folding to scale”/“keep global”, the piano roll should actually change on the points where the global signature is changed!

    • Problem: still need the way to show the “ghost notes” started on the previous scale but yet holding.
  • Selecting the multiple notes/MIDI riff and dragging it up/down should stay stable according to the current folding display mode! And imagine dragging it to a point with different signature… We basically have a most intuitive arpeggiator/reharmonizer possible.

  • No matter whether in “folding” or a “regular 7w5b keys piano”, it should highlight the keys of the chord according to the chord track. (Both on the piano keys and in the piano roll rows).

    • … assumed that they exist in the current folding mode/the chord is valid for the current signature. If they don’t, they still should “appear” in the folding with a different highlighting, suggesting that they are valid for the chord but invalid for the signature/folding – but still usable if you really want them.
    • A potential design cue list could be like this: regular “white keys/white rows” (and black when in 7w5b piano mode) for visible/non-folded. Greener hue for chord-valid zones on them. Slight diagonal shading and 75% opacity for non-signature-valid rows/keys.

Yes, that’s a big bite to chew. But with such a feature set, we may have arguably the best piano roll in the known universe.