Riffer takes the boring old piano roll and stuffs it full of probability and possibility in the best MIDI sequencer your DAW doesn’t have.
I’m a big fan of Riffer. If you’ve ever stared at a piano roll and see only emptiness then Riffer is for you. If you’ve ever wanted to throw some notes up so you can play with sounds and ideas then Riffer is for you. If you just want to revitalise your ideas, find an alternative riff or try something out then Riffer is for you. It takes all the chore out of coming up with melodies and musical riffs and lets you play with ideas quicker and easier than any other software sequencer.
Riffer has a hardware feel about it. It works like a step-sequencer with a grid system onto which you can paint notes into short (or not so short) patterns. Or, if you prefer, you can hit the big dice button and let Riffer generate some ideas for you. You can quantize, swing and apply scales with a quick flex of your mouse. You can set the number of notes being generated and circle them around a root note. You can tie, sustain and lock individual notes while the others get randomised around them.
Set it running and Riffer will keep on generating a new riff on every new cycle, forever, if you want.
I usually use it to throw something at a synth I want to play with. It’s funny how I often find myself back in Riffer playing with the melody more than playing with the sound I was trying to design.
Poly mode and Multi-Riffs
The new version 3.0 update brings in a Polyphonic Mode and a Multi-Riff engine. This is essentially 4 Riffers patterns running simultaneously generating complex polyphonic and polyrhythmic ideas by all running to the same MIDI destination. You can turn the 4 patterns on and off for a bit of on-the-fly arranging or edit them together for some shared notes which you can then affect differently in their own pattern.
Density appears onscreen a bit like the velocity lane but dictates note repeats, stuttering or ratcheting. You can have up to 8 repeats per note.
A new MIDI Input mode releases Riffer from the timeline and will now playback when it receives MIDI rather than just when you press play. So it plays when you play a note and you can also use it for transposition.
Another new feature is the ability to map MIDI controls to parameters within Riffer which frees you from the mouse.
Riffer is available as VST, AU and AAX plugin for macOS and Windows for €39. You can also pick it up for iOS for $7.99. Drop it on a track in your DAW and if becomes a MIDI input device for your other MIDI tracks. Or send it out to hardware synths as a great way to involve the power and versatility of software without it feeling like you’re using a DAW.