In the latest firmware update for Launchpad Pro we've added 32 musical scales, accessed via a new Scale Browser integrated into Launchpad Pro's existing Note mode. We asked our friend and virtuoso Harry Coade, who seriously impressed us with his previous Launchpad Pro 'Found Sound' performance, to put this new Scale Mode through its paces.
We caught up with Harry after this performance to ask him his thoughts on this exciting new feature.
This track is incredible! Tell us a bit about how you came up with this.
I knew I wanted to take a bit of a journey around the world to showcase the different scales and I thought taking you through the different continents using hip-hop as a context would be an engaging way of doing this. I was turning to the likes of Dilla, Quasimoto, Pete Rock and Sa-Ra for inspiration although I wanted it to be something a bit different and not take itself too seriously!
I spent a day with the Launchpad Pro, to get acquainted and found 5 of my favourite scales which I wanted to use in the performance. I even discovered there's a dream scale (scale 15 on the pad). This gave me an idea of the performance being a dreamlike state, drifting off to these far away places, the last one being outer space. I then sampled some old quotes and sound effects, for the fun factor, if anything!
What are your thoughts on the scales that we've selected?
Well, you've pretty much covered every scale that ever was! I particularly liked the presets 9, 10, 15, 20. Those are the ones I used on the video.
A PDF explaining exactly what those scales are can be found in the Support & Downloads section of the Launchpad Pro page here.
And, did you find them inspirational? Did they aid your creative process?
As a session keyboard player, I'm familiar with quite a few of the scales but I definitely learnt some new ones whilst playing around. It's also quite liberating approaching scales in this format. Note grids are relatively new on the scene and it's definitely influencing a lot of modern producers. I can see a lot of Launchpad users having fun with this upgrade. It was actually a lot of fun and a refreshing change to the conventional keyboard. It allows you to do note combinations that you wouldn't normally be able to do. It's not just for novice keys players although they will be glad not having to learn their scales to use this! Also, you can definitely feel the difference in the quality of feel and sensitivity of the pads on Launchpad Pro. It's very responsive, especially on the velocities and with the new scale mode it really does feel like a musical instrument now.
We’ve added the ability to shift the level of Note Overlap, to change the way that you're able to play and interact within each Scale, how did you find that?
Yep, great feature. It allows you to access different intervals and play various voicings of chords easily. I'd recommend first getting familiar with the first note overlap setting and then start playing around with others, it will unlock some new performance combos. I've always felt most comfortable in front of the black and white keys. But having done it for this video, I'll be turning to this feature when a fresh approach is needed.
You previously said that Launchpad in it’s various incarnations has been a crucial part of your studio and live setup. Do you think that this new Scale Mode is a helpful addition? Will this change the way that you use Launchpad Pro?
Interestingly, having played around with the scale feature, I'm thinking about creative ways to integrate it into my live sets. Sometimes, you don't always have space for a MIDI keyboard, and it would save space and provide a unique way of triggering notes. Plus, this thing is LED backlit which adds visually to a performance, especially when you're playing in dark clubs!
Harry Coade is in-house engineer and producer at The Blue Studios. He's currently recording various musicians and vocalists in Marrakech for a world music EP with his organisation Sound Matters, which engages people with environmental issues, using sound and music. He is also about to launch a brand new music project called SOULH∆CK which you'll be hearing about very soon.