Note: I already asked this question on Elektroautos, but I think this community is also a good place to ask as we always have deep discussions.
If you could built your dream sequencer, how would it look and what features would it have? I’m asking to get inspired for programming my own sequencer.
Note that having ton of features doesn’t automatically lead to a better sequencer. Sometimes, if not most of the time, a limited feature set inspires you more to think out of the box.
A few questions to inspire your thoughts:
How would you handle the balance between live jam/tweakability and deep programming? What’s more important to? You e.g. completely different on an Elektron sequencer which is very menu driven vs. a Cirklon sequencer, which has an encoder per step.
What are your favorites features of each sequencer you have?
Should it rather be compact (like Elektron sequencers) or big with a ton of knobs (cirklon or analog sequencer)?
Should it have a display?
Should it rather have encoder or Poti?
What do you think of displaying the sequences as colored clips simliar to Ableton Lives Session view instead of having them simply numbered (e.g. A01 to G16)?
What’s a feature you want and is currently not available in any current sequencer?
A few different concepts of sequencers. Note how each concept leads to different inspiration while using the sequencers.
Elektron: Menu driven, but still very live tweakable. Modified Parameters get to assigned to specific steps (Parameter Lock)
Cirklon: Very deep but also live jammable thanks to the encoder per step. Modified parameters get modified on all steps (midiCCLane)
Analog sequencer: One knob per step. What you see is what you get. Limited sequencer tweak options
Pyramid: Also very menu with tons of tweak options like midi effects
Toraiz: Many features for live jamming with the sequences (like direction, speed, melodic control, groove bend)
MPC: Next to the usual step sequences, it also has midi clips
oof this is an amazing and very hard question. I think with the sheer amount of voices it’s possible to have for practically no money if you have Ableton means that sequencing is actually a much more important determinant of how you’ll express yourself.
I’ve used quite a few sequencers and approaches, and each has benefits and drawbacks. I think as far as midi sequencers go, open source is the key.
In my opinion, Norns + Grid is really the ideal sequencer, because it offers several different approaches with varying degrees of control and different paradigms for ‘patch programming’ and randomness. Moreover, the community can build applications that suit existing needs, rather than developing a product and bringing it to market. Much like Dieter’s decision to open source the Eurorack spec, Norns creates a platform for innovation; a tide that creates & lifts many boats.
I use Squarp’s Pyramid and Hermod, both of which are outstanding and incredibly complex. If they were open source, they would be hardware platforms for innovation, rather than consumer products. An open source Squarp ecosystem would allow users to develop their own midi effects, for example. I had and loved an OPZ because it was simple, fast, and tiny. It’s unfortunate that devices like Squarp and TE are closed source, because the hardware platforms would be amazing jumping off points for creative expression.
I was quite amazed by this sequencer with it’s motorized faders. If you think about it, motorfaders actually make quite sense for a sequencer. (And yes, im aware that they mostly don’t get used in products because of their prices)
I wonder if anyone can come up with better ergonomics for these sort of ‘studio brain’ sequencers – I like having a single unit to focus on but they all seem to be designed for us to hunch over them for hours
I agree. my sequencer needs vary a lot from session to session and norns/grid checks a lot of boxes for flexibility/innovative ideas while still remaining very playable. I must use at least 10 of the sequencer scripts on a regular basis and my favorite one (arcologies) didn’t exist to me two weeks ago
I’m loving the combination of ansible + pyramid + hermod. ansible does all the fun emergent pattern polyrhythm stuff super immediately and pyramid can do more intentional stuff with velocity / cc / software. Sequencers and voices woven together in a net.
Thank you for asking this question. I’m also in the process of writing my own sequencer and really enjoying thinking about these design decisions and tradeoffs. In particular the balance between performance and composition “modes” is fun to think about.
I recently got a pyramid and so far I really really love it. It is by far the best fit I’ve had with a sequencer. I’m curious how you use it with the hermod. Are there ways that these two work together that’s different or a better fit than the generic midi-to-cv options?
I’ll use ansible if I just want a simple Midi–>Cv scheme usually. Hermod has different midi fx so manipulating midi from Pyramid can be very fruitful. I wish there was more concrete work by Squarp to integrate the two.
Obviously because I’m newly high on it, but: a dedicated hardware box/grid for Arcologies, and it’s like Arcologies 3.0 after the development roadmap is along a few years into the future, and the grid is MPE multi-dimensional, and the box has a generous amount of CV connectivity and USB/minijack MIDI including USB MIDI Host features, and also there’s a friendly built-in GUI editor to develop your own structures.
For me something like the Polyend Tracker but with flexible FX lanes and unlimited MIDI sequencing capabilities. If it allowed me to freely edit any pattern while the instrument is playing the song, that would be killer, too.
Sequencing with trackers is so much faster than with a piano roll, and much more visually informative than grid sequencers.