Chapter 10: Pitch and Time Manipulation

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10 Pitch and Time Manipulation[edit]

10.1 Changing the Project Play Rate[edit]

You can adjust the play rate for the whole project, using the Transport Bar. The project�s default pitch shift mode will be applied. You can use any of these methods:

Click in the Rate edit box and type a new value (e.g., to speed up by 10% type 1.1)

Click the mouse in this edit box and scroll the mousewheel, up to increase or down to decrease play rate.

Drag the horizontal fader adjacent to the play rate edit box.

In addition to these methods, you can right click over the same edit box or the play rate fader and select one of the options from the menu. From this menu you are able to:

Reset the playrate to 1.0.

Increase or decrease the playback rate by any of the values listed.

Enable or disable the option to Preserve pitch in audio items when changing master playrate.

Apply play rate to the current BPM.

Set the playrate fader range according to any of the available options.

Note: If the playrate fader is not visible in your transport bar, you can display it by right-clicking over any part of the Transport Bar background and selecting the option to Show play rate control.

10.2 Changing Pitch for Individual Media Items[edit]

An item’s pitch can be changed from the Media Item Properties dialog. To open the Media Item Properties dialog box for any item, first select the item, then press F2. The default algorithm is determined by your Project Settings. The pitch is measured in semitones. You can enter a number to raise or lower the pitch of any item by that number of semitones, or you can type in a multiplier, such as x1.5.

Choose an algorithm from the drop down list:

  • Project default (from Project Settings).
  • SoundTouch 1.9.0 (allows stretch rates up to 1,000 times and up to 64 channels).
  • Dirac LE (better quality, more CPU intensive).
  • Simple windowed.
  • Élastique 2.28 or 3.2.7 Pro (best).
  • Élastique 2.28 or 3.2.7 Efficient (less resource

intensive than elastique Pro).

  • Élastique 2.28 or 3.2.7 SOLOIST (suitable for

monophonic items).

  • Rubber Band Library.

For any of the élastique algorithms, you should also select a Parameter from the different options available (example shown here). For rubber band, select further options from the rubber band library (categories shown below right).

Keyboard shortcuts allow you to easily and quickly change the pitch of any selected item or group of items without needing to open the Media Item Properties box:
Keyboard Shortcut Description Shift 9 Move pitch down one semitone.
Shift 7 Move pitch down one cent.
Shift 0 Move pitch up one semitone.
Shift 8 Move pitch up one cent.

You can also use a take pitch envelope for pitch changes. Right click on the take (or media item if only one take) and choose Take, Take pitch envelope from the menu.

For more adventurous pitch shifting escapades you can try using one of the pitch manipulation plug-ins that are supplied with REAPER. Simply open the FX window for a track, click on Add, then in the filter list type pitch to discover what is available.

One example is the JS Pitch: Octavedown plug-in. Other JS pitch shift plug-ins include fft-ps, mdct-shift, octaveup, pitch2, pitchdown and superpitch. These are each suited to particular tasks, but the most powerful of the available pitch shift plug-ins is ReaPitch.

10.3 Using ReaPitch[edit]

Simply insert the VST ReaPitch plug-in into a track�s FX chain and you have a powerful pitch manipulation tool at your disposal.

For example, you can use ReaPitch to create vocal harmonies.

The first illustration (right) shows ReaPitch inserted into the FX chain for a vocal track. The Elastique Soloist algorithm has been selected, together with the Monophonic parameter. Notice that the pitch has been shifted down by 25 cents and the effect panned 50% right.

In the second illustration, you can see that we have added a second shifter, this time taking the pitch up by 25 cents and panning the effect 50% left, thus creating an extra harmony.

Notice also that in the second illustration we have also adjusted the panning and the mix of the wet and dry signals to produce a more pleasing overall effect.

Pitch Shifting and Channel Splitting

If you intend to do a lot of work in this area, you should definitely take the time to get on top of REAPER�s channel splitting capabilities. These are explained in some detail in the section More REAPER Routing Examples (and elsewhere). Look especially at the example headed Channel Splitting and Pitch Shifting.

With channel splitting, you can, for example, not only create several vocal harmonies, but also apply different FX plug-ins or plug-in chains (such as Reverb or Delay) to each of your different harmonies.

10.4 Using ReaPitch with Multiple Tracks[edit]

We�ve already looked at how REAPER can send audio streams from one track to another. Let�s now have a look at how this feature might be used with ReaPitch.

In the example shown on the left, sends are used to send a signal from a Lead Vocal Track to two other tracks.

Each of these other tracks has its own FX chain which includes ReaPitch, and of course the pan and volume faders for these tracks can be controlled independently of each other and of the lead vocal.

Chapter 17 will help you to understand how to go about setting up a signal flow such as this.

10.5 Time Stretching[edit]

The Take properties and Take pitch shift/time stretch mode sections of the Media Item Properties dialog box (F2) can be used to stretch or shrink the time for an item.

To do this, adjust the Playback Rate. In the example shown (right), playback rate is being increased by 2% and the option to Preserve Pitch has been selected. �lastique 3 Pro has been selected for the algorithm to be used.

To open the Item Properties dialog box for any item, select the item, and press F2. To do this for a number of items:

  1. Select all of the required items.
  2. Press F2.
  3. The Media Item Properties dialog will display properties where changes can be made to several items at once. These include pitch adjust and playback rate (see right).
  4. Make your changes and click on OK.

When the Media Item Properties dialog is opened for more than one item at once, some of the options will been dimmed and are not available when setting properties for multiple items. (such as Take envelopes and Rename file). Most options, however, are available.

Another method of adjusting the playback rate of any media item (or selected group of media items) is this:

  1. Select all the required items.
  2. Hover mouse over the end of one of the items until it turns to a double-headed arrow, as you would for slip-editing. Hold down Alt, click and drag mouse, left to increase playback rate, right to slow it down.
  3. Release the mouse when finished.

If you enable the option Display media item pitch/playrate if set (Preferences, Appearance, Media) any changes to Pitch or Playback Rate will be displayed on or above the Media Item(s) in Arrange View.

10.6 Pitch Correction with ReaTune[edit]

The plug-in ReaTune can be used for pitch correction. It can be used in either manual or automatic mode. In either mode, �lastique SOLOIST is a suitable algorithm.

Automatic mode is illustrated top right. To apply it, first insert the ReaTune plug-in into a track�s FX window. You should then:

Select the page headed Correction.

Enable the Automatic pitch correction option.

Select the required algorithm and parameter.

Specify the correct key and play.

ReaTune will then do the rest for you!

Manual mode is illustrated below right. To use it, first insert the ReaTune plug-in into a track�s FX window,then:

Select the page headed Manual Correction.

Enable the Manual pitch correction option, and other options as preferred.

Enable or disable the other options as required. These are Update, Prevent octave shifts, and Prevent overlapping segments.

Use your mouse (click and drag) to draw your corrections. You can also use the Clear button to clear the display.

10.7 Stretch Markers[edit]

Stretch markers can be used to speed up or slow down part of an item or selection or group of items. They can be inserted at the current play cursor position or at the start and end of a time selection. Unlike standard project markers (which apply to the project as a whole), stretch markers are only applied to the item(s) selected at the time they are inserted. By dragging these markers left or right, the tempo of these items can be changed. To create stretch markers, follow this sequence:

Position the play cursor at the point where you want to insert a single marker, or make a time selection starting and ending where you wish to insert two stretch markers.

Select the item or items to which you want the marker(s) to be added

Choose Item from the main menu (or right-click on the item to show the context menu).

Choose Stretch markers then either Add stretch marker at cursor to insert a single marker or Add stretch markers at time selection to insert a pair of markers at the start and end of a time selection.

Note that as am alternative to inserting stretch markers, the Stretch markers menu has options to calculate transient guides: the same menu also has an option to clear these.

Hover the mouse over the stretch marker to display a horizontal (not vertical) double-headed mouse cursor as shown in the examples below. Stretch markers can then be dragged left or right with the mouse to adjust timing. Holding Shift Alt while dragging the first of a pair of stretch markers will move both markers together, preserving the distance and timing between them. Other modifier keys are listed on the table on the next page. Meanwhile, here are some examples showing how stretch markers can be manipulated.

A stretch marker is inserted in this item at the position shown.

As it is dragged left, timing is made faster before (left of) the marker and slower after (right of) the marker.

In this second example, stretch markers are added at a time selection.

Left marker dragged right to speed up area between markers, slowing down area before. Notice new stretch markers are automatically added to the left and at the start of the item.

The same marker is dragged back left as Shift Alt are held. Timing before the marker changes but the timing between the original two markers does not change, as both markers and the area between them are dragged together.

Stretch markers can be snapped to grid by choosing Snap to grid from the Stretch markers in selected items or Snap stretch markers in selected items within time selection options on the Stretch markers menu.

A stretch marker can be removed by holding Alt while clicking on it. Markers can also be removed by choosing Remove from the Stretch markers in selected items or Snap stretch markers in selected items within time selection options on the Stretch markers menu. Removing stretch markers will cause an item's timing to revert to its state before the markers were added. To make any changes to the item permanent, instead of removing the stretch markers manually you can Glue the item (from the main Item menu).

Where a number of items have been selected, markers will be added to the items in that selection. As long as they remain selected, moving one marker in the selection will also move the others. This can be over-ridden by holding Ctrl while dragging the marker.

Where items have been grouped, markers added to one item in the group will also be added to other items in that group. By default they will be moved together when one is moved. This can be over-ridden by holding Ctrl when dragging the marker. Grouping items is explained in Chapter 7. The following example shows how stretch markers can be used with grouped items.

These two items have been grouped. Selecting and adding stretch markers to either item causes the markers to also be added to the other.

Adjusting the marker position for one item by default makes the same adjustment on other items in the group.

Various modifier keys can be used in conjunction with your mouse (left drag) to modify the behavior when a stretch markers are dragged. These defaults can be changed by selecting Media item stretch markers on the Mouse Modifiers page of REAPER's preferences (see Chapter 15).

Default left drag mouse modifiers for context Media Item Stretch Markers

Modifier Action (none) Move stretch marker
Shift Move stretch marker ignoring snap
Ctrl Move stretch marker ignoring selection/grouping
Shift+Ctrl Move stretch marker ignoring snap and selection/grouping
Alt Move contents under the stretch marker
Shift+Alt Move stretch marker pair
Ctrl+Alt Move contents under the stretch marker ignoring selection/grouping
Shift+Ctrl+Alt Move stretch marker pair ignoring snap

Other stretch marker mouse modifier choices are available from the Preferences, Editing Behavior, Mouse Modifiers window, including enabling or disabling the option to act on a pair of stretch markers.

You can also use your mouse (left drag) to modify stretch marker rates. First, hover your mouse over the stretch markers so as to show a vertical double-headed arrow as in the examples below.

In this example, dragging up causes the playrate to increase up to the stretch marker, thus speeding up playback.

Holding Shift while dragging up causes the playrate to slow down at the beginning and speed up progressively thru to the stretch marker.

Default settings are listed below. These defaults can also be changed.

Default left drag mouse modifiers for context Media Item Stretch Marker Rate

Modifier Action (none) Edit stretch marker rate, ripple markers
Shift Edit stretch marker rate
Ctrl Edit stretch marker rate, move contents under marker
Shift+Ctrl Edit stretch marker rate, move contents under marker, ripple markers
Alt Edit stretch marker rates on both sides, ripple markers
Shift+Alt Edit stretch marker rates on both sides
Ctrl+Alt Edit stretch marker rate on both sides, move contents under marker
Shift+Ctrl+Alt Edit stretch marker rate on both sides, move contents under marker, ripple markers

Other stretch marker rate mouse modifier choices are available from the Preferences, Editing Behavior, Mouse Modifiers window, including the option to ignore selection/grouping.

In addition to the commands and mouse actions explained above, please note that:

The Item Properties dialog box includes an option to optimize stretch markers for tonal content.

The Dynamic Split Items dialog (see Chapter 9) has an option to Replace stretch markers. This replaces existing stretch markers in the item(s) and replaced with dynamic splits.

Several stretch marker Actions are available, for example to go to the nearest, next or previous stretch marker. For more information about REAPER's Actions and Actions Editor, see Chapter 15.

Media Item Stretch Marker double-click modifiers.

Double-click on a stretch marker to reset its value to 1.0.

Ctrl Double-click on a stretch marker to open a dialog (shown here) where you can manually edit start rate, end rate, or both.

These options can also be accessed from the context menu, using the Stretch marker, Stretch marker at cursor command.

10.8 Time Signature/Tempo Changes and Markers[edit]

The default project beats per minute and time signature for any project are determined by the values assigned in the Project Settings window. You can make changes for the entire song by any of these methods:

  • Display the Project Settings window (Alt Enter) and change it there, or press W to return the edit cursor to the start of the song, then either ...
    • Type your value in the BPM edit box (shown here) or Time Signature edit box on the transport bar, or hover your mouse over the BPM edit box and scroll the mousewheel up or down.
  • Make a time selection, display the ruler context menu and choose one of the options shown here.

You can also make changes to time signature and/or tempo within a song, using either the project tempo envelope or markers. If you intend to do this, first make sure that your Project Settings are using the default timebase setting Beats (position, length, rate). Pressing Alt Enter will display the project settings dialog and give you the opportunity to change this if necessary.

The project tempo map envelope is explained in Chapter 18. This works essentially like any other automation envelope. Note, however, that editing multiple points at once on this envelope causes each point to be adjusted pro rata, not by a constant BPM value. This section focuses on inserting time signature and/or tempo change markers on the ruler to make changes within a song. An example is shown here (right). These changes take effect immediately following the marker’s position. Before looking at how to do this it’s worth noting that:

  • Time signature markers and tempo markers are two separate entities but are both inserted on the ruler using the same method.
  • At any point along the timeline you can change either the time signature, or the tempo, or both.
  • By default, time signature changes are also displayed as a grid line in arrange view. You can disable this on the Appearance page of your preferences if you wish.
  • If you are using either time signature markers or tempo markers it is advisable to enable the relevant ruler layout options (Chapter 9) to ensure these are displayed. If using both, you should consider also enabling the option to display both types in separate lanes. These options are accessed by choosing Ruler layout from the ruler’s right-click context menu.

The method for inserting a time signature or tempo change marker is as follows.

  • 1. Position the edit cursor at the required place in the song. From the menu, choose the Insert command, then Time signature/tempo change marker (or press Shift C).
  • 2. Specify your requirements in the dialog box (shown below right). Available choices include BPM, whether to Gradually transition tempo to next marker and/or Set time signature , Allow a partial measure before this marker and (where the metronome is enabled and uses a beat pattern) to define and Set metronome pattern starting at this point.
  • 3. Click OK.

Alternatively, you can use an action to Insert a tempo marker at edit cursor without opening tempo edit dialog.

Remember, you can use markers to set time signature without also specifying a tempo change (or vice versa). Markers can be modified, for example by editing (double-click on marker to open the dialog) or moving them (see table below). Note also that:

  • Tempo/time signature markers are always pinned to beat position rather than time.
  • Manually editing time signature markers requires them to be placed at the start of a measure.
  • With snap enabled (Chapter 7), time signature changes snap to bars, tempo changes snap to beats.
  • With snap disabled (Chapter 7), moving time signature markers will modify the preceding tempo if necessary to ensure that the project contains only complete measures.
  • Time signature changes that truncate the previous measure are marked with a *.
  • Time signature correction may be problematic when a project contains linear tempo transitions.
  • One tempo/time signature marker cannot be moved past another.
  • Markers will turn red while they are being moved.
Managing Time sig/Tempo markers: to do this ... You need to do this …
Move a time signature or tempo marker. Left click/drag marker.
Move time signature marker, adjusting previous tempo as necessary to preserve relative position of later tempo changes. Left click/Ctrl drag marker.
Move tempo marker, adjusting its value and that of previous tempo markers so as to preserve position of tempo changes after the one being modified. Left click/Ctrl Shift drag marker.
Move marker, ignoring snap. Left click/Shift drag marker.


  • The Project tempo/time sig marker left drag actions in the above table can be customised on your Preferences, Mouse modifiers settings page.
  • After time signature or tempo change markers have been added to a project you will no longer be able to set project tempo from a time selection within that project.
  • The Preferences, Audio Seeking page includes the toggle option Playback position follows project timebase when changing tempo – see Chapter 22.
  • The ripple edit toolbar button right-click menu includes the option Ripple edit all affects tempo map.

10.9 Instrument Tuning with ReaTune[edit]

ReaTune is a plug-in that can be used to help you correct the pitch on your recorded media items. This is commonly used with vocal tracks.

– select the ReaTune – Tuner tab, as shown here (right). Simply arm the track for recording in the usual way, then tune your instrument in front of the microphone.