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ZPlane Tonic

Music Theory Assistance Plug-in By Paul White
Published February 2022

ZPlane Tonic plug-in

ZPlane’s Tonic is a plug‑in designed to work out the key of a piece of music and to suggest musical scales and chords that might work with it. It includes a very basic synthesizer and virtual keyboard that can be used to replay the suggested notes or to trigger one‑finger triad chords that fit with the scale. Tonic supports all the common plug‑in formats for Mac and Windows, including Pro Tools’ AAX.

Tonic is used as an insert effect on a track, bus or master and it can either do its thing in real time or you can set it to work on an audio file offline. For working out the key of a specific part, such as a sample loop or a guitar part, then it is best to load Tonic as an insert on that track. To figure out the key of an entire tune, then Tonic is best used as an insert effect on the master bus.

On launching Tonic, Realtime Mode is selected by default so all you need to do is play the audio and the analysis starts. Tonic shows three possible keys, with the shaded areas around the centre circular display showing the probability for each one. The key shown at the top is the most likely match. Sometimes the key of a piece of music isn’t obvious, perhaps because some notes are not used, or maybe because the odd ‘accidental’ falls outside the conventional scale — hence the alternative key suggestions....

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