Chained variations

What is the problem?

When live recording an external instrument in MIDI mode, a single loop can be limiting. 64 steps doesn’t easily allow for creating a progression.

What do you want to achieve?

Take advantage of the available variations to keep recording MIDI notes beyond the first loop of a track. Record MIDI sequences into multiple variations slots, automatically switching to the next one, when the previous one is full/recorded. This way, chained variations could allow up to 1024 (64 x 16) steps of MIDI looping.

This feature would allow recording longer sequences. It would also allow coming-style recording, where the player can record up to 8 takes continuously, and then choose the one(s) they want to keep.

Are there any workarounds?

Record variations one by one, but it’s a lot more tedious. When you have an inspiration, you should be able to make it fast and easy.

Chaining patterns, but in the beginning of a new pattern all those tweaks made during live recording will be swapped in favor of stored ones.

Any links to related discussions?

Conditional variation
Variation randomizer

Any references to other products?

Midiphy LoopA (random example vid), Dirtywave M8.


@ambivalence your wish explains in detail an implementation but not what you want to do as a musician. The important part is to explain what you want to achieve (i.e. sequence a piano concerto :wink: ). Once the goal is clear, there might be different ways to implement it.

@icaria36 hey :sunglasses:

Even though I haven’t resisted to include some technical thoughts on that, I also tried to make a couple of examples.

Half of my life I played “analog” music, so to speak, like guitars or all sorts, kalimbas, jembes etc. and it’s perfectly clear for me that it’s a lot more fun to “trigger” sounds directly with your hands rather than program them, placing by hand on some grid when there’s a possibility not to do that. That’s why, by the way, I also made that finger drumming wish, but it’s another story. Sometimes players just need to have an interface to connect with music to feel it better and our hands are the interface. Luckily, Play offers the way to record midi notes directly.

1. So, if player uses midi, he could make use of longer progressions playing them live, like I said in the wish. Yeah, you can record just one part, chain it with patterns or something, than record another part, copypaste etc. but it would be so much easier to record just one long chain of variations and make them switch automatically. Benefits:

  • having fun playing music instead of building it
  • avoiding limitations caused by switching between patterns (knobs positions resets with a start of a new pattern, for example)
  • some of the repeated parts may naturally differ from each other, so there’s no need to “humanize” anything

2. When user doesn’t have other midi equipment, it’s also cool to have chains for variations. If we imagine that switching between patterns won’t reset currently chained variations to start from the beginning, it could introduce layered playback. Like, you could make a progression within variations and then switch patterns being somewhere in the middle.

3. In case we have “Variation randomizer”, it would be quite expected to have a regular chained playback with no wizardry.

btw, check the references to other products section I’ve added.

If what you want is a longer sequence of notes… What about starting new patterns instead of new variations? Patterns already have a mechanism to play sequentially after the other. Variations are… variations, different takes of a same idea. Plus, you have more pads for patterns, so in the end perhaps you could record a full piano concerto indeed. :wink:

As I said in the wish and here in the first point, switching between patterns won’t allow you to tweak audio sequencer’s knobs later and it’s only a part of a problem. Also, it implies recording parts one by one in each pattern separately which ruins the flow. Player won’t need all the pads to record something: it would be much more elegant and easier to navigate the patterns view having one part of a composition per pad rather than one pad per a chord change. What a chore to control it manually, live!

For a regular, non-midi usage, it also would provide tons of possibilities. You could play within just one pattern for quite a while having lots of movement: not random, but hand-built. Let’s say every 5th variation of a track may be totally different, how about that? Perfect for non-square types of music. Switching between patterns always set the same knobs’ values and the same variations to be active, while chained variations could provide a movement within one track and have manual control over the other tracks’ variations at the same time. So, the flow would continue for each track at any point of time. Smooth changes and multiple progressions for each individual track.

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Ah, sort of like track comping, allowing you to record multiple takes?

@icaria36 I guess, it also could be a reason. Have you checked the vid with midiphy loopa, that dude’s workflow? Yeah, that device was specially made for this purpose, but Play could do most or at least some of the basic things, which is an additional selling point. And this is only the midi side of a question. I guess, having a possibility to chain variations in audio sequencer’s side is also a powerful tool. It reminds me how trackers work (I have only M8 to say): each track may have its own pace and they are completely unbound from each other. Yeah, you can switch the playback position for all of them at once which could work like patterns in Play, but you also could benefit from switching just one track’s progression at see how it sounds with other tracks at any point of time. Even your own tracks can surprise you sometimes.

@ambivalence I have edited the wish based on all the conversations. Please check and feel free to keep editing.

@icaria36 thanks, it’s absolutely correct to keep only the midi recording feature for this wish, because chaining regular variations is kinda another topic, even though it’s tightly related. Appreciate you made it clearer.

Just one note: if it will be allowed to record such longer sequences, I guess it implies the need for the chained playback capabilities. So, if player used couple of variations’ slots to record longer progressions, there’ll be a need to play them one by one within one pattern, making one big loop out of them. “Block”.

And once again, to make this clear, using regular patterns for such progressions won’t make much sense, because:

  • When you switch to a new pattern, it restores all the knobs’ parameters, even if you’re in the middle of all the tweaks. So, you won’t be able to tweak, let’s say, a filter during progressions. Even if you’re filtered something out, it will be resetted in the next step of your progression.
  • Having a whole new pattern for just one chord change creates an additional workflow routine, requiring lots of switches between patterns, in cases when progressions evolve slow enough (couple+ of bars per chord change)

Hi all, thanks for contributing the wishes :slight_smile: Just a quick question if I understand this: you basically want possibility to play track variations sequentially? Cheers

hi :slight_smile:

didn’t want to bother you with such high-densed wishlists – all my hopes that you and other players will consider this useful in some way! in regards of this thread, it’s more about recording tracks with incoming midi, as the headline states, but, yep, basically/initially, it’s about sequential playback of variations too (ideally, with the ability to choose the playback pool).

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OK, thanks for clarifying.

@here ready for voting!


Hi ! Glad to see this was already suggested, I was planning to do so as well !

In my use case, chaining variations would be super useful when building a whole part of a song inside of a single pattern.

In this single pattern, only a couple of tracks could have variations, the others being more “constant”. Of course, one could use several patterns. But, if I want to alter the “more constant” tracks afterwards, I have to replicate to modification into all patterns.

I understand why it maybe wasn’t implemented right from the start. Maybe because it could cause some confusion, when chaining patterns in which some variations are also chained, for how many bars would each pattern be played ? Maybe the most logical would to base the pattern playtime on the longest variations chain ? (could be a bit confusing if some chains are not multiples but IMHO that shouldn’t be deal-breaker)

Thank you so much ! :slight_smile:


I came here to see if anyone mentioned chaining variations, so glad to see it’s a topic already covered.
The ability to chain variations (similar to how the Keystep Pro does it) is essential to being able to fully utilize the variations.

Chaining allows for more interesting and varied drum sequences, without having to ‘babysit’ the variation buttons. I would love to see this implemented.


Agreed. Also the title of the wish is a bit misleading I think because chaining variations would be great for playback too, regardless if they were recorded as a chain or sequenced manually.

@a.radder It had different name that implied the ability to chain variations in general, but then it was changed by the moderation team to represent the actual text in the wish. I agree that the device could drastically benefit from the feature beyond recording midi sequences. The original name was: «Chains for Play’s variations / MIDI looper».

@icaria36 maybe we could rename it a bit? Like «Chained Variations (for longer MIDI recording and comping)»?

see also: Conditional variation, Variation randomizer

What about simply “Chained variations”?

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@icaria36 that would work and definitely improve votes response! Will hope the ability of longer recordings with this feature won’t be forgotten completely :slight_smile:

When patterns are chained and you are recording, does the recording continue across all the patterns? If so I would hope that functionality stays the same with chained variations.