5 Lessons On: The Creative Power of Variation

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Soundfly 5 Lessons On graphic

The Creative Power of Variation

Variation keeps music interesting. Yeah, okay, we all know that but how exactly do you “create” variation in a song without it being distracting?

In the following lessons, you’ll find both straightforward, “how to” style guides and artistic, inspiring perspectives from our acclaimed instructors on their approaches to variation. Below are five lessons which reveal just how diverse, illuminating, and fun those approaches can be. But these links are only accessible with an active Soundfly subscription.

So make sure to subscribe to level up your toolkit, and gain access to everything else Soundfly has to offer. Here are our favorite 5 Lessons On… Variation. Enjoy!

Ryan Lott: “When you layer an instrument onto itself, there’s an ongoing variability.”

In this exciting lesson from Ryan Lott’s newly released course, we see him design and capture a “wavering pitch” sample combining three versions of the same piano note, for an effect that is eery and “wandering.”

Check Out This Full Lesson on Soundfly

Kiefer: “More importantly than what’s happening theoretically, it sounds good!”

Kiefer’s composing and improvising frameworks are based around utilizing different levels of “stability” in the Circle of Fifths — introducing melodies and chords outside your key can create unpredictability and freshness.

Check Out This Full Lesson on Soundfly

Jlin: “A good flow is when I can create a variation inside a variation of something.”

One of the defining aspects of Jlin’s unique beat making style is her frequent movement between subdivisions of 2s and 3s, which alters the flow of the music constantly. Here’s a DAW-view explainer on how to do it.

Check Out This Full Lesson on Soundfly

Charles Burchell: “Fills and builds give life and energy to your music.”

From The Art of Hip-Hop Production, a handy lesson on how drum fills in trap and electronic dance music create variations on rhythmic themes.

Check Out This Full Lesson on Soundfly

RJD2: “You’ll keep ending up in these interesting places.”

Hip-hop sampling innovator RJD2 puts forth a fun, and incredibly economic, approach to creating variations in loop-based music. Simply invert and swap the lengths of your loops here and there for maximum movement.

Check Out This Full Lesson on Soundfly

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An Introduction to Sam Amidon — Experimental Folk “Crate Digger”

Some personal notes on the first time I listened to the highly personal, lyrical music of avant-garde folk balladier Sam Amidon.


Themes and Variation S2E05: “Songs About Science”

In the latest episode of Soundfly’s podcast, Themes and Variation, Jeremy, Martin, and Mahea discuss “Songs About Science.”


Themes and Variation S2E04: “Cathartic Songs” (with Lana Cenčić)

In the “Cathartic Songs” podcast episode, Mahea, Jeremy, and guest Lana Cenčić discuss tracks by Baby Huey, Michael Jackson, and Simon Dawes.