REAPER has a bunch of helpful tools for songwriting that make your work easier. These tools are useful for both beginners like me who struggle with music theory, especially scales, and experienced musicians who already have a good understanding of music theory. They can streamline your workflow and simplify tasks related to scales and key signatures.
In this article, I will show you how to:
- Snap your MIDI notes in the MIDI editors to a key
- Quickly change the key of your notes
- Load additional scales
- Determine the key you are in
- Perform and record your piano always in key
1. Snap notes to a key in the REAPER MIDI Editor
When you open the MIDI editor, you will find a checkbox at the bottom labeled "Snap to key". Enabling this feature allows you to select a root note and a scale. Once set up, any notes you write or move will automatically snap to the selected key.
This is particularly useful when working with existing MIDI, as it simplifies adding voicings to your chords or harmonizing your melodies.
2. How to quickly change the key of your notes
If you're curious about how your notes would sound in a different scale, you can simply select a new scale from the "snap to key" dropdown. Then, go to the Actions menu (shortcut: ?), navigate to the MIDI Editor section, and search for "Force selected notes into key signature". This action will move all the notes to match the new scale you assigned.
For example, in this case, I am changing the scale from A major to A harmonic minor. Quick and easy ✨
3. How to load more scales
By default, REAPER provides basic scales, which are generally enough for most users. However, if you want access to hundreds of additional scales, REAPER user Zappadave has created a HUGE list that you can import. Hundreds of scales that allows you to explore new sounds!
To load these new scales, download the following file: ZD-Ultimate.reascale. Then, click on the scale dropdown menu, select "Load .ReaScale file...", and load the downloaded file.
4. How to know the key you are in
If you need to determine the key signature of your notes, go to the Actions menu (shortcut: ?), ensure you are in the Main section, and search for "Scale finder". A window will appear, and you can select your notes and choose "Use MIDI editor selected notes".
TIP: If you have Reapack installed, you should have the script "Script: Mordi-ahmusic_Search selected notes in scale finder.lua". It will take you to a website with more possible scales and useful information.
5. How to record and perform MIDI always in key
REAPER allows you to map any scale to only the white keys of your keyboard, which is a fantastic feature. Even if you're not proficient in piano, you can simply play the white keys in any key.
To achieve this, add the REAPER plugin called "JS: MIDI Snap To Key" to the input FX chain of a track. In this plugin, you can set the desired scale and choose to either remap to the white keys or block the incorrect notes.
Additionally, by adding this plugin to the input FX chain, any MIDI you record will be adjusted instantly during recording.
Hope these are useful! – even if you know tons of music theory, I still think these help a lot streamlining things.