Toneworks are small music technology company based in Copenhagen, Denmark, and aim to provide music producers with software that offers a new take on classic tools and techniques. Their debut release, Catalyst, is a DAW plug-in which features comprehensive step sequencer, harmoniser and arpeggiator sections, and is capable of hosting VST and AU softsynths, allowing users to program melodies, chord progressions and arpeggios without the use of a piano roll.
Catalyst is equipped with a monophonic 32-step sequencer module, which provides individual pitch, velocity and gate times for each step. Users are able to select a key and scale, and the pitch control’s steps will automatically snap to notes within that scale rather than a fixed tuning value, ensuring that any pattern made with the sequencer will be perfectly in tune.
Steps can be joined together to make longer notes, and it is also possible to create glides if the connected synth plug-in features a legato mode. There are five pattern slots within the module which can be used to store different variations, and it is possible to transpose patterns or switch between them by sending MIDI messages from the host DAW.
The notes generated by the sequencer are routed into the plug-in’s harmoniser, which can then be used to create full chords. Only the seven fundamental chords for the selected key will be played, with users able to add sixth, seventh and ninth notes to each individual chord, or change the inversion to create progressions and transitions. A range of voicing settings provide control over how many notes are used in each chord, with options ranging from two-note power chords to wide pad chords that span several octaves.
An arpeggiator section follows, allowing created chords to be turned into single note patterns. Rather than relying on predefined patterns, Catalyst allows users to create their own using the same set of pitch, velocity and gate time controls as the step sequencer. It is possible to add notes above or below those present in the incoming chord to create longer patterns, whilst rising and falling patterns are also possible thanks to a set of dedicated editing functions.
Each of the modules can be turned on or off in order to be used individually or in any combination, with MIDI from the host DAW always routed to the first active module. In addition to controlling which notes are played by a hosted instrument, Catalyst also features dedicated parameter sequencers which can be used to apply automation to their controls. Additionally, the sequencer, harmoniser and arpeggiator sections are also capable of sending MIDI back to the DAW, so it is possible to take advantage of the plug-in’s features without directly hosting an instrument.
Catalyst is supported on PCs running Windows 10 or above, and Macs running macOS 10.12.6 and higher. VST, VST3 and AU plug-in versions are available.
Pricing & Availability
Catalyst is available now, and is being offered for an introductory price of $49€49 until 31 March 2023, after which it will cost $79€79.