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AutoTonic Explanation

Features, features, features ...

This unique note processor is for the computer based composer/producer what equalizer and compressor plugins are to the mixing engineer – a tool you won't miss again once you started to use it. Some of AutoTonic's most significant highlights include:

True Modal Mapping • AutoTonic breaks rules by calculating scales as data sets of modal values, rather than just referring to the static and conventional music theory declarations and norms.
24,576 Scales feasible • That doesn't just sound like a lot – it really is. AutoTonic allows to logically map ANY scale that exists in Western Tonal Music. Yes, that is a first too.
Black Keys Key Switching • Use the black keys as function toggles to change your playing in realtime, positioned at the closest possible point to the white keys, right at your fingertips.
Built-in Music Theory Database • AutoTonic includes "a no compromise", fully customizable music theory database with over 500+ pre-declared scale records from all around the world.
Maximum Compatibility • By not being hosted within another software (eg, as a plugin within your DAW) AutoTonic is a 'global tool' compatible with any other MIDI gear, and that's beneficial …
Chord Memorizer/Stacking • It also includes one of the most unique chord memorizers around. Based on a 'binary method' you can freely assign any chord pattern of up to 52 intervals.
Linear keyboard playing • AutoTonic reinterprets any existing MIDI keyboard like a new/different controller surface, making it result in a completely futuristic 'instrument' on its own.
Crisp clear user interface • The UI is where AutoTonic really shines (literally). Its semiotically well organized design is result of years of hard work and performance analysis.

True Modal Mapping

Scale Podom

AutoTonic's clever modal mapping is based on just two components: 1) TONIC and 2) SCALE. It's the combination of these two settings which is capable of defining any harmonic context existing in western tonal music. And basically, they're not very hard to understand at all …

1) Tonic

By its nature, the 'Tonic Modifier' allows only one exclusive selection to be active at the same time. Here gets defined where the Tonic (colloquially often 'ROOT' note) sits, or, in other words: which 'key' the scale sequence output is based on. Even when there are no intervals selected in the 'Scale Modifier' the 'Tonic Modifier' will always remain active and build the fundament for the output mapping …


The Tonic Modifier can be also considered as a 'direct' transposition method, where all of the harmonic context gets shifted the same amount of semitones up or down, depending on the selected tonic note height (C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G, G#, A, A#, B). This kind of transposition technique can be also found on most modern electric pianos, often called 'Pitch' or '+/- Tune' etc.


2) Scale

So while the Tonic Modifier just pitches the playing up or down, linearly, the Scale Modifier instead – by excluding/including desired intervals – allows defining the relative distances between each appearing note.

Here's a visual reference of how C-Ionian (often called "C Major") looks like in AutoTonic:


But, where it really gets interesting is when modifying these interval patterns in the 'Scale Modifier' by the use of their binary character. Because any of these intervals (11 available intervals without the Tonic) can be either toggled ON or OFF – so every potential permutation/pattern is feasible here.


Where other note transposers are often limited by using only 7-note respectively 5-note based mappings (hepta- and pentatonics), AutoTonic goes far beyond allowing you to choose literally ANY count of intervals per octave!


The visual concept of this Scale Modifier is – by the way – based on a left-to-right sequence where each following step describes the next higher interval (P1, m2, M2, m3, M3, P4, ♯4, P5, m6, M6, m7, M7).


What's so important to understand here: it's THE COMBINATION of these two modifiers that is capable of defining all the characteristics of any mapping which results on the white keys of your MIDI keyboard.

24,576 Scales feasible

Scale Modifier

With AutoTonic it has become possible, now, for the first time in history, to truly modally map ANY existing scale in a logical way (there exist 24,576 scales based on 12 pitches in Western Tonal Music).

It's AutoTonic's 'Scale Modifier' where you can freely assign any desired pattern of intervals per octave …

Scale Modes

It is well known that 7-note based scales are called "Heptatonic" and 5-note based scales "Pentatonic", but AutoTonic's revolutionary MODAL transposing method looks even beyond that! According to the "Attic Greek" dialect, we should be able to classify these other remaining (and mostly unexplored) scales somehow like this:

  • 01 mono- [μονό], Monotonic Scale (Unisons): -Wikipedia-
  • 02 di- [δι], Ditonic scale: -Wikipedia-
  • 03 tri- [τρι], Tritonic scale: -Wikipedia-
  • 04 tetra- [τέτρα], Tetratonic scale: -Wikipedia-
  • 05 penta- [πέντα], Pentatonic Scale: -Wikipedia-
  • 06 hexa- [ἕξα], Hexatonic Scale: -Wikipedia-
  • 07 hepta- [ἕπτα], Heptatonic Scale: -Wikipedia-
  • 08 octa- [ὀκτα], Octatonic Scale: -Wikipedia-
  • 09 ennea- [ἐννέα], Enneatonic Scale: -Wikipedia n/a-
  • 10 deka- [δέκα], Decatonic Scale: -Wikipedia n/a-
  • 11 hendeka- [ἕνδεκα], Hendecatonic scale: -Wikipedia n/a-
  • 12 dōdeka- [δώδεκα], Dodekatonic scale (Chromatic): -Wikipedia n/a-

Interesting side effect: the more OR less intervals a scale has, the fewer "permute combination versions" it allows of!

Permutation and Combination

Example: While the Hendecatonic scale allows only 11 combinations (11 "n" places where the 1 missing "r" interval can be), the Hexatonic scale (all combinations of 5 intervals "r" to be placed at 11 positions "n") offers up to 462 combinations, the same for the Heptatonic scale (also 5 intervals "r" at 11 places "n"). That results in…

  • Monotonic scale: 0 combinations
  • Ditonic scale: 11 combinations
  • Tritonic scale: 55 combinations
  • Tetratonic scale: 165 combinations
  • Pentatonic scale: 330 combinations
  • Hexatonic scale: 462 combinations
  • Heptatonic scale: 462 combinations
  • Octatonic scale: 330 combinations
  • Enneatonic scale: 165 combinations
  • Decatonic scale: 55 combinations
  • Hendecatonic scale: 11 combinations
  • Dodekatonic scale: 0 combinations

… and each combination can be mixed with one of the twelve unique Tonics, of course:

In Short:
(1 + 11 + 55 + 165 + 330 + 462 + 462 + 330 + 165 + 55 + 11 + 1) × 12 =

Watch them all played subsequentially in action, on YouTube, here:
AutoTonic v1.12 – NEW #ЯЯOЯIM Keys

… in this above linked video you can – for the first time ever – hear every such existing and feasible scale in western tonal music [that's 2,048 SCALES], based on the tonic "C" in 2-Octave-runs (up/down) using a basic Piano-Sound. There exist even more possible combinations than the in the video shown, if also considering all the other TONICs: "C#,D,D#,E,F,F#,G,G#,A,A#,B" [this results in 24,576 feasible SCALES then because the math is: 2^11x12=24,576] but to keep it 'simple' this video shows only the cases with TONIC=C.

2,048 Scales x 12 Tonics

Below (link) you can find the complete list of all unique 2,048 combinations of feasible scales based on TONIC=C in AutoTonic – yes, all these scales could also have one of the other tonics C#,D,D#,E,F,F#,G,G#,A,A#,B as well. And since this had already become quite a lengthy video [Total Time=1h:17m:53s] in below's video you may also find the corresponding video markers, which will bring you straight to the corresponding scale types(s): AutoTonic Scale Permutations

Black Keys Key Switching

Black Keys Key Switching

Have you ever wondered why the black keys on a piano are placed the way they are? Before you continue reading, please try to answer it yourself: Why there is this unrythmic pattern of keys in each octave?

Some people will explain it themselves by simply saying it's for historical reasons, others will go further and claim that the conventional piano scheme is 'optimal' in mathematical senses, taking advantages of musical aspect ratios etc, or that it maximizes the number of consonant chords that can be played only with the white keys' and so on and so forth.

Keyboard Layout

While I (the developer) don't want to make accusations here at this point, and definitely don't want to pretend that I know all the answers, I found one particular reason in all of my researches that seems the most logical to me: visual orientation! I mean, imagine there were no black keys at all …

Keyboard without Black Keys

… it would be rather hard to know which keys you're allowed to play, and which you're not, right? Well, it depends, we can say. Because as soon as when filtering out unwanted notes through a technique like with AutoTonic's modal mapping there won't be any wrong keys anymore anyways. That's why it doesn't matter really, we can leave the black keys away now and use them as function toggles instead (→Headers) …

Keyboard with Headers

Each of these so called 'Headers' can store either a tonic information or a scale pattern or both. So depending on what Headers get toggled simultaneously, or in successive way, the global active scale mapping will update your input keyboard's mapping (white keys) instantly, in realtime.

Headers on Black Keys

In AutoTonic these Headers are represented by these weird-shaped objects, that sit on each black key. What information is stored into each Header is indicated by abbreviations, respectively the tonic. If there is no information present it means that no parameter will be updated when activating this Header.

Headers Information

There is also always one key that has the 'POWER Button' on it, which will at any point allow to enable/disable the whole AutoTonic transposing engine, so you can even call up the traditional piano scheme – how your keyboard would work normally – as well. Where these Headers sit and what they've stored into them, can be fully customized.

Think of AutoTonic in terms of a new, alternative controller concept: Customized Headers

With AutoTonic you can use the black keys as function toggles to change your mappings in realtime. Positioned at the closest possible point to the white keys, right above your fingertips, AutoTonic feels like a complete new futuristic controller concept.

Built-in Music Theory Database

Scales Library

While Mozart, Bach and Beethoven may not have known most of the scales that are available in AutoTonic's huge database (500+ predeclared scales from all over the world), it still could be one of the most inspirative aspects of a software like this … to browse through different templates while randomly noodling around on your keyboard with a cup of tea in your other hand, just to come up with a melody that goes beyond everything else you've created before. Those who will keep searching will be always rewarded!

Opener Empty

AutoTonic's built-in scales database provides all features and functions you would expect from a no-compromise files library. Copy, paste, duplicate, edit, delete, rename, move, categorize, – you name it. In AutoTonic you can take control over any database record and customize it the way you want it to be. In case you think the Aeolian scale suits the name 'Minor Scale' better – boom! Simply change it. Need a new abbreviation 'MINOR Scale' for the Headers as well? No problem, there you go …

Minor Aeolian

Whether in educational aspects by exploring new harmonic relations or when simply saving your own session scales for later use, this part of the software will never get old (especially as some of the scales are over 9,000 years old themselves already). AutoTonic offers an enormous repertoire of scales, from blues scales to bebop scales, to the melodic minor modes and the well-known catholic church modes …

Scale Types

… from world scales to harmonic scales, from scales without an exact definition to symmetric scale patterns, from penatonics to exotical scales …

Exotic Scales

… spanish scales, messian scales, neapolitan scales, chord-based scales, mela's, raga's etc, …

Chord-Based Scales

… you name it! With its 500+ scales library AutoTonic has the BIGGEST scales database of any MIDI transposer existing. And if that's not enough, simply create your own – as there are still loads of undeclared scales out there. What scale exists or not you can see indicated at any time by a small exclamation mark, which is displayed when there exists a match in the database.

Database Match

Maximum Compatibility

MIDI Controller

While 'plugins' (DAW-proprietary software containers) seem the way to go today, the approach of dedicated 'standalone processing' proves to be much more versatile in this field, especially with realtime processing. Due to its 'global' character AutoTonic not only allows for a lot more sophisticated routings, it also provides maximum compatibility with any MIDI software/hardware on the market.

Think outside the box (Plugin vs. Standalone)

  • MIDI FX Plugins are NOT more convenient
    A plugin in your DAW would require re-configuration on every single track, which can lead to confusion and most importantly may interfere with your creative process. AutoTonic has a global character to it instead, like your physical MIDI keyboard itself. It 'plugs' into your MIDI signal chain at the very first point of contact, right after your input signal conversion. Hence one might think that this is inconvenient, the virtual cabling is actually a one-time procedure, so once set up it remains active whenever you need it.

  • DAWs add buffer and latency, by default
    Just think of other realtime applications in the audio domain, such as UAD's Unison technology or WAVE's Soundgrid/MultiRack solution -- such realtime processing tasks wouldn't be feasible as plugins hosted inside your DAW either, respectively would it not make much sense as the processing would be always dependent on the DAW's processing structure, buffer size and resources etc, simply put – that's a bad approach, which should be avoided with MIDI as well. There are DAWs that offer low latency modes and/or better internal architectures – but it's nothing that can be generalized.

  • Plugins are limiting, by their nature
    Third and most importantly, with a plugin format you always have the limitation to a particular manufacturer and its proprietary format (AU, VST, AAX etc.) and rewuirements etc, whereas a computer-wide standalone processor not only provides maximum compatibility with any other MIDI software/hardware, it's also the better investment (just think of eventually switching to another DAW/platform one day) from a customer perspective …


You want to be connected to the sound, not your DAW

AutoTonic is meant to be a 'sandwich processor' that sits between your source (e.g., MIDI keyboard) and the sound generator (e.g., a DAW). That makes it rather feel like a final stage/module of your keyboard than a music theory effect or such, but more importantly, as said, it makes AutoTonic 'modular'. Every experienced MIDI enthusiast most likely will favor the advanced functionalities, sooner or later. From multichannel processing tasks to left hand/right hand splittings AutoTonic doesn't disappoint when it comes to flexibility. A look under the hood shows how these advanced routing options are vastly different from your average MIDI FX plugin …

AutoTonic Block Diagram
AutoTonic Block Diagram

… let's take for example the technique of 'Reharmonization', it's an advanced setup where existing MIDI is fed through AutoTonic, to apply harmonic changes afterwards, by hand or by the use of session markers from your DAW …


… since AutoTonic provides various routing methods, from MIDI channel routing (e.g., Thru/Filter/Omni methods etc.) to MIDI port separations, a workflow like this can be thankfully achieved by multiple approaches, leaving no wishes open …

Example 1, Solved by the use of 'MIDI ports'
MIDI Ports Routing

Example 2, Solved with the 'THRU' filter method
THRU Filter Method

… use AutoTonic plain and simple OR go deep and realize your own routing concepts etc. – with complete freedom in modularity and functionality like this, your creativity is your only limitation!

Change yourself and not the world

I (the developer) use AutoTonic myself for my own musicianship since many years now, almost on a daily basis. If there were any advantages to convert the code to a proprietary plugin format (except marketing bullshit), believe me, I would have done it already. But there's no reason for it, really, it simply makes no sense from a technical standpoint. It's rather the whole MIDI setup itself which draws some people's attention off, I think, even though it can be a really rewarding and beneficial process to dive into MIDI routing and its associated technical territory, especially if you're a computer-based musician anyways!

Chord Memorizer/Stacking

AutoTonic's unique approach of interval stacking could be interpreted as a 'parallel triggering', which causes multiple notes to be played simultaneously when pressing only a single key.

This can be e.g., especially useful to memorize and reproduce custom chord patterns.

xoxoooxox Interval Stacking Explained

The x/o-modifier can be found in the center of the application, right above the INPUT keyboard and by default, when no other stacking is set, the modifier will display a small, unnoticeable grey "x" …

x/o Modifier OFF

… but as soon as you click on it you are able to change the pattern by "x" and/or "o" keystrokes (of your computer keyboard). The glyphs will turn blue as soon as a stacking is active …

x/o Modifier ON

The system is based on a 'binary' logic, where each "x" represents an active interval and each "o" an inactive interval. Since it uses plain text glyphs for the declaration, you can even copy & paste all of the patterns and e.g., save them in a notepad or simply rename your MIDI regions according to the setting etc.

Here are a few examples, based on a heptatonic scale (you can also copy & paste the x/o-patterns right from here into AutoTonic) …

xoxox = triad chord root position
Triad Chord Root Position

xoxoox = triad chord 1st inversion
Triad Chord 1st Inversion

xooxox = triad chord 2nd inversion
Triad Chord 2nd Inversion

xoxoxox = seventh chord root position
Seventh Chord Root Position

xoxoxx = seventh chord 1st inversion
Seventh Chord 1st Inversion

xoxxox = seventh chord 2nd inversion
Seventh Chord 2nd Inversion

xxoxox = seventh chord 3rd inversion
Seventh Chord 3rd Inversion

… but – as always – creativity is your only limitation, and you can use your own (even more complex) "x" and "o" patterns as well …

xoxoxoxooxxooxox for example :)
Complex Chord Pattern

Note: If you want to trigger the actual root note of inversions, you can also move AutoTonic's "INPUT Anchors" to a desired offset position:

Pitch Correction

Linear keyboard playing


AutoTonic is neither a piano playing hack nor does it take care of music theory for you. It is instead defined, by its patent, as a 'musical instrument'. It's a plain and simple interface converter, reinterpreting the control surface of any existing MIDI keyboard like a new device … to play linearly on white keys only!


Is AutoTonic cheating?

There exist all sorts of instruments in the world. Wind instruments, fretted string instruments, whistles, bells, oscillator modulators, etc., and most of them are operated differently. So a trumpet has to be played in another way than, let's say, a cello, for example. While with both of these instruments you can play the same notes (not going into details with 'harmonic range' here), still, they're operated completely differently from a player's perspective. The same applies when comparing AutoTonic to a traditional piano. They're not the same kind of instrument and they're operated differently.

So when some people might ask: "Is AutoTonic useful?" or "Is it cheating?", well, you could ask yourself this as well: "What instrument is more useful – the cello or the trumpet?" or "Is the harp cheating, compared to an oboe?" or even better, ask if that question itself does make sense at all … can you compare a trombone to a viola in terms of usefulness?


"This is such a simple concept"

What does simple mean? Does simple mean stupid? Or doesn't it also stand for "unconstrained; natural; inartificial; straightforward"? Is key mapping a simple thing? There exists a so-called 'harmony piano' which was officially used by Haydn, Beethoven, and Mozart …

Harmony Piano, Johann Jakob Konnicke, AutoTonic MIDI Transposer, Modal Transposing, Music Theory, Harmoniehammerflugel, Alternate Instrument, Front View

Credits: "Johann Jakob Könnecke's Harmoniehammerflügel". Photo © Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien

… it's one of the earliest approaches of linear key mapping and was developed over 200 years ago, at a point where even the conventional piano – as we know it today – was still not as established as it is now. The piano even at the moment of writing is still not that old, by the way, and there also existed many build variants, from different keys to inverted color schemes and knee-controlled sustain pedals, etc. Today's (current) conventional piano layout is only one form of how a key-controlled instrument could be put into practice.

How can this not challenge your idea of what a piano should be? The piano as you know it didn't have to end up the way it did. Especially when having control over dynamic modality now with digitally controlled electronic devices (computers & MIDI keyboards), which are capable of filtering out unwanted notes so you can play expressively on a true linear arranged physical interface.


Crisp clear user interface

The UI is where AutoTonic really shines (literally). Its semiotically well organized design is result of years of hard work and performance analysis.

(More coming soon. This site is under construction …)