Variations are transformations with tweakable parameters that can be applied to entire tracks, or specific phrases (Generators, or Custom Phrases). They can be accessed via the Variations Browser, or the Track Inspector. Multiple instances of the same variation (with different parameters) can be applied to a track or a Phrase.

Important: variations are non-destructive, which means your phrases won't be changed. Think of them as transformations that can be disabled or removed anytime.

Variations are also a great way to get really interesting and unique ideas from the Idea Tool.

You can mute any variations by removing the checkmark in the box next to the Variation name.

TIP: A few of the most commonly-used Variations among RC users is the “Swing” variation, “Mirror Horizontally” variation, and “Staccato-Legato” variation.

Applying Variations To The Entire Track

Right-click the Track Header/Track Name to pull up the Track Inspector, and then click the icon shown to the right to access the Variations from the Track Inspector window.

Click the “Add” button on the bottom left to add (and tweak) Variations to the entire track.

Applying Variations To A Phrase

Right-click the Phrase to pull up the Phrase Inspector, and then click the icon shown to the right to access the Variations from the Phrase Inspector window.

Click the “Add” button on the bottom left to add (and tweak) Variations to the Phrase.

Variations Included

Here is a list of available variations in RC:

  • Accents 4th/8th/16th: change accents of 4th, 8th, 16th notes
  • Add Chord Notes: add chord notes above or below the original note with the option of muting the original note
  • Add Interval: Add specific intervals (1 or more) to monophonic or polyphonic Phrases or Tracks. Easy way to harmonize a melody (add a Third, and/or a 6th).
  • Adjust Note Lengths: Similar to Staccato-Legato Variation, but more specific note options.
  • Adjust Note Lengths v2: a better version of “Adjust Note Length” with more options (change by percentage, or change by offset)
  • Apply Rhythm: drag and drop a rhythm pattern to use for slicing the phrase notes according to the pattern.
  • Audio Gain: a simple control for audio gain, usable in audio tracks only
  • Delay Notes: Offset the beats/counts of notes by tiny increments (for a more “human” feel). Similiar to “Humanize.”
  • Double Note: Opposite of “Remove Note” with same settings (see below)
  • Double Phrase: Acts as a multiplier for the MIDI notes inside a phrase. If you have 8 straight 8th notes, it creates 16 16th notes).
  • Expression: Many slider variables available here. Works as MIDI velocity (soft to loud notes). Each track has an Expression by default.
  • Extract Rhythm: Makes a monophonic phrase by replacing every note with the given note
  • Humanize: “Loosens” the timing of a phrase or track, for a more “human” performance.
  • Join Notes: No parameters - Glues two notes together when the first note ends and the second one begins.
  • Limit Note Range: Two sliders available, controlling the lowest note and highest note. Currently only effects entire Tracks as a Track Variation (not specific Phrases).
  • MIDI Echo: Adds an echo-effect by adding quieter MIDI notes to the main notes of a Phrase.
  • Make Monophonic: Similar to Extract Rhythm, but with different options.
  • Mirror Horizontally: No parameters (reverses the MIDI notes, rhythmically and/or melodically, inside a phrase)
  • Mirror Vertically: No parameters (reverses the MIDI notes, melodically (not rhythmically), inside a phrase)
  • Permute Chord Notes: No parameters. Like Swap Chord Notes, it rearranges the chord notes randomly.
  • Quantize: Tightens timing or changes timing entirely. Has many note alignments, including triplets, quintuplets, and more. Includes slider amount for Quantize percentage.
  • Remove Note: Available settings that are affected by the slider are Note at Index, Event at Index, Before Time and After Time. Settings that the slider has no effect on include All, Even Beats, Odd Beats, Random Note, Random Time, Shortest Note, Longest Note, All Shortest Notes, All Longest Notes, Notes on Whole Beats, Notes Between Beats.
  • Remove Short Notes: Removes too short notes from the phrase with minimum length specified
  • Rests: Two sliders available, to generate rests in various places at at various lengths.
  • Rotate Notes: An interesting effect to rotate phrase notes.
  • Simplify Phrase: Simplifies a phrase by removing less important notes.
  • Spread Out Chord Notes: Makes phrases more full by spreading out the intervals of a chord. Use voicings instead.
  • Staccato-Legato: Makes notes more “choppy” or more “smooth”.
  • Strumming: Moves MIDI notes by a tiny amount, to simulate a guitar chord strumming (works best on chord Phrases with longer-duration notes… or any Phrase with 3 or more notes played simultaneously).
  • Swap Chord Notes: Available settings are First-Second, First-Third, First-Last, Second-Third, Second-Last, Third-Last. This Variation can do very interesting transformations on Phrases: it rearranges the chord notes depending on your setting.
  • Swing: Applies a “shuffle” to straight Phrases. Great for making a phrase more funky or “bouncy”. Very useful also, for generating “chiptune/8-bit video-game” music phrases. Many settings. Common swing setting: Half Beat (1/8 Note), w/ Swing slider set to 40.
  • Transpose: Increase or decrease the pitch of the Phrase or Track.
  • Triple Phrase: No parameters (acts as a multiplier just like Double Phrase. If you have 4 quarter notes in a phrase, it creates 12 notes, which become 8th note triplets).
  • Velocity: Basic MIDI velocity adjustment (soft to loud).
  • Velocity Generator: Many variables here that affect MIDI velocity and performance.
  • Velocity Range: Assign random MIDI velocities for downbeats/on-beats/off-beats, 8th and 16th notes

TIP: If you find an 8-bar/16-bar section too repetitive (say you filled the track with a single Phrase such as PianoBasic02), try adding some small variations to a few Phrases in that section such as “Remove Note”, “Double Note, and others, which will keep the part/section from sounding too repetitive.

As we say throughout this manual— EXPERIMENT! Tweak, tweak, tweak!

Without a doubt, Generators and Variations are a HUGE part of RapidComposer, and are also one of the most complex parts of the program. If you’re new to RapidComposer, you might be confused about the intricate details of both.

We recommend watching our Tutorial videos so you can see the basics of “tweaking” Generators and the basics of Variations, and how best to use them in your Compositions.