Tutorial: Creating User Scales for the Harmonic Pitch effect

  • So I just spent a good hour looking for an explanation of how work with user scales and came up pretty short - there were a few forum posts here and there that mentioned little bits, and the reference manual wasn't as clear as I was hoping. Consequently, I figured I might as well put something together so future Googlers can find this thread and think "oh thank god, an answer to my question!"


    (However, I've been known to Google a question and find it answered by myself, five years previous, so this might just be for future-Lokasenna's benefit.)


    We're going to harmonize my favorite scale in the whole wide world, Hungarian Minor. It's not the most common one, but I find the #4 awesome for creating a bit of tension/uncertainty in a metal song: "Wait, are we in minor? Harmonic minor? I haven't heard a fourth or a seventh yet so I just don't OH MY GOD THAT'S SO HEAVY WHAT IS HE PLAYING?"


    For reference, here's the scale courtesy of one of my most-visited bookmarks: http://www.all-guitar-chords.c…nor&get2=Get&t=0&choice=1



    Step 1: Write down the scale, dummy.


    Leave a blank space for the notes that aren't in your scale. You'll need them.


    Since we're all guitarists here, I might as well do this in E:


    E


    F#
    G


    A#
    B
    C


    D#

    We'll get back to those blank spaces in a bit.




    Step 2: Harmonize your scale. That's the whole reason we're here. I'm using 3rds.


    E - G


    F# - A#
    G - B


    A# - C (I know, a major second is pretty ugly. But where would we be without some ugliness in our godly metal solos? Major-scale power metal, that's where we'd be, and nobody wants that.)
    B - D#
    C - E


    D# - F#




    Step 3: Use your head, or your fretboard, or a piano, or a piece of graph paper like I had to, and work out how many half steps (frets) each harmony is from its root.


    E - G = 3


    F# - A# = 4
    G - B = 4


    A# - C = 2
    B - D# = 4
    C - E = 4


    D# - F# = 3




    Step 4: Harmonize all of the notes in those blank spaces so that when you play a wrong note, the pitch shifter doesn't.


    The most straightforward way to do this is to have it play the same note as whatever correct note is closest. This is up to you, obviously, but here's what I did to avoid any more major seconds:


    (Seriously, too many major seconds and you're just playing the whole tone scale. Who do you think you are, John Petrucci? Even he knows better than that most of the time)


    E - G = 3
    F - A# = 5
    F# - A# = 4
    G - B = 4
    G# - B = 3
    A - C = 3
    A# - C = 2
    B - D# = 4
    C - E = 4
    C# - E = 3
    D - F# = 4
    D# - F# = 3




    Step 5: Program your scale into the Kemper.


    - Load up the harmonizer effect and set one of the voices to a User Scale setting. Doesn't matter which one.
    - Press the button for Edit User Scale.
    - With Step 0 being your root, dial in all the numbers we just wrote down.


    3rd Hungarian Minor:
    3
    5
    4
    4
    3
    3
    2
    4
    4
    3
    4
    3




    Step 6: Try it out.


    The quickest way to see if you did correctly is set up the harmonizer with your scale, 100% wet, and then play through the scale starting from a third scale-step down (so, starting with the C in this case). You should hear E Hungarian Minor - if you don't, figure out which notes aren't right and go back to Step 3.




    Step 7: FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, PRESS "STORE".


    You know you're going to throw that piece of paper out in the morning, and then you'll realize you forgot to save it on your Kemper and it will just kill your musical motivation for the rest of the day because you feel like such a dumbass. Oh, and make sure you include WHAT harmony you did in the name. "Hungarian Minor" isn't very informative, especially if you're a super cool person like me and want to make 4th and 5th harmonies of the same scale.




    Step 8: Throw a ton of chorus, delay, and reverb on that fucker and spend the afternoon pretending to be Joe Satriani. Or go feed your dogs because they've been waiting for you THIS WHOLE TIME, YOU MONSTER.


    Oh yeah, those 4th and 5th harmonies I mentioned? Here you go. But only use them if you're a super cool person. Boring people should turn off their computer and go back to playing Blink 182 songs in a cover band.


    4th Hungarian Minor:
    6
    6
    5
    5
    4
    6
    5
    5
    6
    5
    5
    4


    5th Hungarian Minor:
    7
    7
    6
    8
    7
    7
    6
    7
    7
    6
    8
    7


    ...I think I did those right. I've been drinking since noon and just realized I haven't eaten since breakfast, so my music theory is probably getting a bit questionable. But not my spelling, no sir. Bad spelling is for alcholics.







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    You totally forgot to press "Store", didn't you?

  • Nice. Another trick I've used when you need a note harmonized differently in different parts of the same melodic line:


    Let's say in the beginning of the line you want the harmonizer to play C# over your A and at the end of the line you want D over your A. 1st you program User Scale 1 to play a C# over A and User Scale 2 to just play A (unison) over A. Then you program User Scale 1 to play D over Ab and User Scale 2 to play A over Ab. Set the Mix to 100%. You'd have to train yourself to fret Ab instead of A for the end, but in the heat of the moment I've found it's easier to manage than hitting a footswitch, esp. if there's singing involved. It would be cool if the KPA let you program an expression pedal to morph from one scale to another like a crazy pedal steel, but we live in the real world.

  • something to consider when using a harmonizer:


    I prefer to actually play the highest note and have the harmonizer add lower notes, as opposed to the very common practise to pile harmony notes on top.


    The reason for this is simple, it makes it much simpler for me to voice lead.


    While I'm aware of the key(s), chords, modes etc. and aware of which note I'm playing (or better: their function in this instant, well, I try...) having to harmonize this note in my head to know what the highest sounding note (and this is pretty much the one that counts) will be adds an unnecessary overhead.


    to get the same interval, simply set the same 'negative' interval.


    to get the same note, only an octave lower refer to this:
    third up -> sixth down
    fourth up -> fifth down
    fifth up -> fourth down


    hth

  • I do the same thing as Don - especially when I want the harmony to sound less like a pitch shifted note. I make it a little bit quieter than the higher note I am playing.


    and adding a little bit of positive Ducking (try around +0.1 - +0.5) gives your note more clarity and adds the harmonies after the all important initial attack. it's similar to ading pre-delay to a reverb.

  • What if you have to play a solo where the chord change in such a way that you cannot use the same scale throughout the whole solo?
    For example: Highway Star by Deep Purple. Starts with minor scale and add a third (if I remember well), but then, when the chord changes, the scale sounds wrong.
    How can you dynamically adjust the scale so that the whole solo sounds right?