If you love writing music in your DAW and want to stay inspired, melody generator plugins are a great place to start. You'll find that it's easier to overcome beat block when you have an entry point. All you have to do is pull in the MIDI notes from your plugins of choice. You choose how to arrange the notes and build on that initial idea in order to create your final melody.
There are currently a few solid MIDI plugins on the market that will help you to generate new musical ideas. In this article we'll tell you about our favorites. Plus we'll share some details about the interface, features, and cost of each app. But first, let's review the basics.
What is a random note generator?
Composers have always used random methods to come up with new song ideas. Mozart famously played musical dice games to write his music. In the 20th century, computer-generated music became a popular experimental grounds. Some people wrote algorithms that produced music, instead of writing the music themselves. But these tunes never sounded very good. They lacked the human touch.
As home production became increasingly popular in the 21st century, a new generation of producers found utility in MIDI plugins that generate music. But rather than writing an entire piece of finished music, these apps act as a starting point. You get to skip over the 'blank canvas' phase of your creative process, to focus on shaping and moulding your ideas.
You can dive right into an overview of our favorite random note generators in 2023 or read on to learn more about what to look for in a random note generator.
Random Note Picker & Metronauta
Melody generator plugins range anywhere from simple, single-note algorithms to complex apps driven by artificial intelligence. Any of these can be good options potentially. It just depends on what you're looking to do. Our suggestion is to start by figuring out how much help you really need. Do you want the app to write a melody for you or do you just need a starting point?
Features to look for in a random note generator
Here are the things you should be looking for when choosing an app:
Can you control the number of notes created
Can you control the key signature (so it matches your song)
Can you control the rhythm of the notes
Does it produce a MIDI file that you can use in your DAW
If the app interface is complex, does that complexity pay off with good MIDI output
Does it consume a lot of RAM
Is it compatible with your Operating system and DAW
How much does it cost
And of course, the most important question of all: Does this app make it easier for me to come up with new ideas?
To help you answer some of these questions, we've compiled these insights on our favorite random note generator plugins of 2023, what they cost, and why we like them.
Random melody generator plugins
Now that we've outlined the most important features and considerations for choosing a random melody generator, let's take a look at the best options.
AudioCipher VST ($29 - MIDI Note Generator)
Easy to use: When it comes to generating an idea quickly, AudioCipher is hands down one of the easiest tools to use. The simple design makes it easy to pick a key signature and take a listen to your ideas before you commit. Plus it comes with an interesting twist - AudioCipher lets you type in words and turn them into MIDI notes. So you can use words that inspire you to come up with new melodic ideas.
Affordable: As one of the simpler random note generators on the market, AudioCipher is also the most affordable. Clocking in at only $22, it costs about 1/3rd the price of its competitors. If you're looking for an app that will write your entire melody with the push of a button, this isn't it. But if you are happy with an idea-starter, this app should do the trick.
Have fun turning words into music notes: People who enjoy the concept of hiding messages in your music will have endless fun. Type in anything, from the name of your friend or favorite food, to lyrics of a classic song. There's no limit to how long your text input can be. Each letter is converted into a music note. When you're ready, you just use the "Drag to MIDI" feature to place those notes directly into your virtual instrument.
Community-based: The other nice thing about AudioCipher is that there's an existing community around the plugin. You can submit videos of yourself creating songs with the app and have your content feature on their social media platforms. You can find lots of examples of people making music with the app over at the AudioCipher youtube channel.
Melody Sauce by Evabeat ($49 - Melody Maker App)
Another popular option for random note generators is Melody Sauce. This VST / AU MIDI FX plugin uses advanced generative algorithms to create instrumental melodies and hooks. It produces MIDI that you can use directly in your music production software.
Create Ideas Quickly: Melody Sauce lets you press a variety of buttons to generate a random melody. You can choose rhythm parameters like speed, octave, swing, triplet, and syncopation. These features mean that you won't have to spend as much time interpreting the notes or adding your own creative input. Plus you can choose the key signature to make sure the note output matches your project. Pretty cool!
Mid-tier cost: You can expect to pay a bit more for Melody Sauce, coming in at $49. The interface is more complex and the company has invested a lot in making it look and feel nice. So while you the cost is a bit higher for this app, you do get what you pay for.
Store your melodies: Melody Sauce includes a sound bank, so if you find something you like you can hold on and refer back to it later. This may be helpful for producers who want to spend time experimenting in the app rather than taking the MIDI content straight to their DAW.
Riffer by AudioModern ($59 - Random Riff Generator)
Advanced Interface: When it comes to random note generators, one of the most complex options on the market is Riffer by AudioModern. This app gives you a broad set of controls to use and explore. This is a great option for people who like to spend time in their plugins, playing with the tool itself. The sleek modern layout and interesting variety of MIDI output make it an attractive options.
Riffer includes 53 different musical scales that you can pull from, including modes from Eastern and Western modes. For musicians with an advanced knowledge of music theory (or just an experimental bent), this can be a great way to try something different and achieve some unusual sounds. You get a lot of control over rhythm and volume as well.
MIDI Roll: Rather than dragging your randomly generated MIDI notes to the DAW and using your piano roll to make edits, Riffer provides a native MIDI roll within the app. The same controls are provided by your DAW, but by keeping it in the
Mid-tier cost: As one would expect from an app like this, where a ton of design and development work has gone into the product, the cost is a bit higher than average. At $59 this app won't necessarily break the bank. But you'll need to decide whether all the bells and whistles are worth it for you.
Melodya & RapidComposer by Music Developments ($49 to $199 - Melody Generator Plugin)
Advanced music theory tool: For musicians who have more music theory knowledge and aren't scared by roman numeral chord symbols, Melodya and RapidComposer is also an option. You can use it to create melodic motif variations. With a single-click melody generating feature, you'll get random notes displayed in a midi roll that you can edit as needed.
Standard feature set: The company's entry-level app Melodya comes with a fairly standard feature set including key signature control, note randomization, and rhythm control. It also provides a MIDI piano roll editor like Riffer. The interface looks a bit dated and the variation toolset are a bit intimidating, resembling Egyptian hieroglyphics.
High Tier (Expensive): At a $199 price point, Rapid Composer app sits at the highest end of the random note generator spectrum. Given that the majority of producers today are not music theory savvy, this tool may be best suited for classical music composers.
Random Note Picker and Metronauta (Free)
If all you need is a single, random note and you don't need to hear it played out loud, then you might want to try out an app like Random Note Picker by Bret Pimentel. This app is free and works right inside your browser. Just hit the "Randomize!" button to display a new tone. Of course, you'll need to know where to find that note on an instrument. It doesn't produce an audible tone or export to MIDI so it's mostly useful in scenarios where you're improvising and need something quick.
The nice thing about this app is you can dictate how many notes are presented in your tone row. Use their major and minor key presets to limit the tones that show up, with the option to set a time interval so that they change every number of seconds. If you're trying to get more fluid with your performance, this tool can help you get comfortable bouncing around.
Another option to explore is Metronauta. Personally, the tones generated by this app drives me a bit crazy. You can select from some impressive variety of random note generator, random chord generator, and random mode generator. But I think you'll find that you're better off using a standard metronome with Bret's Random Note Picker app instead.
If you're looking for a browser app that has a more advanced feature set and actually provides MIDI output, then you could try this Random Music Generators app. The interface provides a lot of controls over things like key signature, tempo, note range, note durations, and so forth. Unfortunately there is no playback in browser, so you'll have to spend a lot of time configuring the settings, exporting the MIDI file, and going back and forth to find something you like.
Start with a simple random note generator
As with any software industry, you're going to find some random note generator apps that are loaded up with complex features. Generally speaking, the more features an app has, the higher the cost. The simpler apps tend to be affordable and can get you started down the right path.
The truth is that even the most advanced random note generators rarely create a perfect melody. At the end of the day, a producer still needs to go in and make edits to the MIDI output. So while the extra features can be fun to play with, they might not always be the most efficient use of your time.
This is why we recommend starting with a simple and inexpensive option like AudioCipher. You'll overcome the initial hurdle of staring at a blank DAW project, but still have a MIDI sequence based on something you feel connected to. Random notes on their own feel a bit lifeless. But when you know that your melody is connected to a word you personally chose, it's easier to hold on to a bit of creative agency.
Advanced random melody generator apps like Riffer and Melodya give you a MIDI roll inside of the app. It's up to you to decide whether you want to pay extra for the complexity or keep things simple and use the rhythm and MIDI control features already provided by your DAW. Our suggestion is to start with a simpler app and see where that takes you. Then if you like the workflow but need something more advanced, you can always go upmarket and pick up one of the other options.