Pattern sequencers - not developing with the times?

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Pattern sequencers - not developing with the times?

Post by knolan » Tue Mar 17, 2015 3:05 pm

In my opinion, innovative pattern sequencers do not exist, and in particular the sequencer aspect to modern synths are poor, and essentially no better than the sequencers offered in the '70's by the likes of System 100, CS30 and so forth.

I've been waiting decades for a pattern sequencer that is:

1) incredibly easy to program / perform
2) incredibly easy to control
3) offers sophisticated features,

but in my opinion it doesn't exist and developments in this direction are being neglected in the latest wave of electronic music developments.

While I accept there are many designs that are well thought through, most do not contain the features I mention above.

For example, while the likes of the AN1x and Roland GAIA both have onboard step sequencers, they are still pretty much the same as sequencers of the past. It looks to me that the sequencer on board the likes of the Sub37 and Pro2 are the same. Meanwhile the step sequencers on the OASYS are staggeringly complicated to use (even though each synth engine does get polyphonic step sequencers - ie - one per voice - almost nobody uses them because it takes hours to set it up).

Meanwhile, I'm mindful of the following:

- Jarres/Geiss's Matrisequencer which seemed to allow for extraordinary flexibility and realtime control of both pitch and tempo as demonstrated in the album Equinoxe, that currently does not exist in a single other sequencer - 36 years later !!

- The ZYLKUS system which allows for 12 polyphonic sequences to be triggered live from the keyboard, allowing for seamless looping or one-shot trigger, performance of sequence chords, transposition and so on - all in real time - features that still does not even exist in Ableton, for example.


Overall, I thought by now there would have been relatively cost effective sequencers that allow the user to enter notes extremely easily, manipulate them in real time, and provide capabilities for realtime control of tempo and pitch as with the Matri-sequencer and realtime performance as with the ZYKLUS.

Instead, it seems that static looping step sequencers - often with notes having to be set by knobs (!) and with no realtime interaction of any kind is still the norm. The iPad offers no better options either, certainly from the dozens I've tried.

I realise there probably one or two novel designs out there - but they cost a fortune. Is there no desire for totally easy and flexible note (and other parameters) capture, performance, editing and manipulation in real time?

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Re: Pattern sequencers - not developing with the times?

Post by Infinity Curve » Tue Mar 17, 2015 4:12 pm

Have a look at Elektron gear.

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Re: Pattern sequencers - not developing with the times?

Post by knolan » Tue Mar 17, 2015 4:53 pm

Not one of their products offers any of the features I mention, and indeed in design and use are very similar to the likes of the RM1x, so represent no advancement on what's been available for 20+ years.


They are just your run of the mill drum and pattern sequencers, and in my opinion require a steep learning curve and are very menu driven.

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Re: Pattern sequencers - not developing with the times?

Post by chimney chop » Tue Mar 17, 2015 4:57 pm

Maschine

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Re: Pattern sequencers - not developing with the times?

Post by Infinity Curve » Tue Mar 17, 2015 5:09 pm

knolan wrote:Not one of their products offers any of the features I mention, and indeed in design and use are very similar to the likes of the RM1x, so represent no advancement on what's been available for 20+ years.


They are just your run of the mill drum and pattern sequencers, and in my opinion require a steep learning curve and are very menu driven.
Read a bit more about them, perhaps have a peruse through the manuals. If you think these are just run of the mill pattern sequencers you are incorrect. And they are dead easy to use; some have more complicated synthesis systems, but the actual sequencer itself is a breeze.

You seem quick to write them off, but don't seem very informed on what they are capable of.

And they can do most of the things you listed above btw

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Re: Pattern sequencers - not developing with the times?

Post by knolan » Tue Mar 17, 2015 5:22 pm

Well, I've downloaded the user manuals for virtually all of their products and looked at them in reasonable depth. I accept these are liked and respected products, and I don't want to get into a discussion on any given brand, but they offer nothing new beyond what was available 20 years ago.

I like the AN1x for example. Here are it's sequencer characteristics:

- capable step sequencer, with possibility to save 256 sequences on board
- possibility to place one sequence per key on the lower two octaves, and to perform it mono, poly and transposed on the upper 3 octaves and so on

Overall - a nice package.

The trouble with it - it takes forever to program (pitches assigned by knobs rather than by pressing the key), and no realtime control over note pattern, timing, tempo, time signature, pitch and so on.

None of the devices you mention offer any of that either.

I accept there are all sorts of excellent sequencing devices, but the sort of flexibility Jarre had with Matrisquencer or the sorts of possibilities that ZYKLUS points to even if it didn't quite realise them all at the time, go well beyond current devices.

I would have thought that EDM would have driven a plethora of such MIDI sequencer requirements to offer live control, but nobody's calling for it, and even the likes of Ableton are not thinking about developing it. And again by 'it' I mean seamless live interaction between setting notes and performing them, instant manipulation of that, sophisticated timing and tempo management (in as they say an "elastic" way) - as was available to Jarre in 1979 but not available to any of us today, still. Elektron, and no other device, offers this.


I'm just surprised nobody has bothered to innovate, sequencer wise, given the prevalence of live 'beat' based music. It seems everyone is happy with preset audio loops, and then time warping those, but have no similar desires for MIDI based sequencing. I find that curious (and disappointing).

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Re: Pattern sequencers - not developing with the times?

Post by Infinity Curve » Tue Mar 17, 2015 5:48 pm

knolan wrote:Well, I've downloaded the user manuals for virtually all of their products and looked at them in reasonable depth. I accept these are liked and respected products, and I don't want to get into a discussion on any given brand, but they offer nothing new beyond what was available 20 years ago.
Right. Well you've made your mind up obviously, no point arguing with you. Might want to read up a bit more or watch some videos so you can reach a suitable depth to actually understand how these work and what they can do.

Have fun...

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Re: Pattern sequencers - not developing with the times?

Post by knolan » Tue Mar 17, 2015 6:24 pm

You're not reading my posts !!!

This isn't a discussion about the merits of Elektron - I'm sure they are very capable and from the docs they're straightforward to understand - I'm making altogether different point and you seem to be claiming they can achieve what I'm saying isn't available anywhere commercially.

So - I'm all ears - spell it out - in a few bullet points - reveal the list of those features that are different to everything else in the field, and address the points I made :-)

Don't falsely draw down conclusions on a public forum without offering evidence.

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Re: Pattern sequencers - not developing with the times?

Post by Z » Tue Mar 17, 2015 6:28 pm

What about Genoqs Octopus or Sequentix Circlon?

The Social Entropy Entropy sequencer also looks interesting.

I've pre-ordered the Arturia BeatStep Pro. I'm looking for to receiving it.
youtube.com/zibbybone facebook.com/ZsFlippinGear

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Re: Pattern sequencers - not developing with the times?

Post by Infinity Curve » Tue Mar 17, 2015 6:40 pm

knolan wrote:You're not reading my posts !!!

This isn't a discussion about the merits of Elektron - I'm sure they are very capable and from the docs they're straightforward to understand - I'm making altogether different point and you seem to be claiming they can achieve what I'm saying isn't available anywhere commercially.

So - I'm all ears - spell it out - in a few bullet points - reveal the list of those features that are different to everything else in the field, and address the points I made :-)

Don't falsely draw down conclusions on a public forum without offering evidence.
Here ya go...

Also, in your original post you had the following criteria:
I've been waiting decades for a pattern sequencer that is:

1) incredibly easy to program / perform
2) incredibly easy to control
3) offers sophisticated features,

but in my opinion it doesn't exist and developments in this direction are being neglected in the latest wave of electronic music developments.
...which is basically describing the Elektron product line.

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Re: Pattern sequencers - not developing with the times?

Post by knolan » Tue Mar 17, 2015 6:47 pm

What are ya' doing? Are you trolling? Do you work for Elektron or run an Elektron fan group? I'd be grateful for you not to hog the thread. We can all cite favourites. I'm trying to open a general discussion perhaps of benefit to all and of wide interest. Give the Elektron thing a rest. You like them - we get it!

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Re: Pattern sequencers - not developing with the times?

Post by Psy_Free » Tue Mar 17, 2015 6:58 pm

knolan wrote:What are ya' doing? Are you trolling? Do you work for Elektron or run an Elektron fan group? I'd be grateful for you not to hog the thread. We can all cite favourites. I'm trying to open a general discussion perhaps of benefit to all and of wide interest. Give the Elektron thing a rest. You like them - we get it!
You asked the guy to "spell it out" & then you throw your toys around when he does :?
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Re: Pattern sequencers - not developing with the times?

Post by knolan » Tue Mar 17, 2015 7:14 pm

He didn't offer any evidence - he repeated my post. That's not evidence.

I though I could open up a conversation on sequencer development. I'll leave it.

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Re: Pattern sequencers - not developing with the times?

Post by madtheory » Tue Mar 17, 2015 8:15 pm

Z wrote:What about Genoqs Octopus or Sequentix Circlon?

The Social Entropy Entropy sequencer also looks interesting.

I've pre-ordered the Arturia BeatStep Pro. I'm looking for to receiving it.
This. Although according to SOS, the Genoqs manual "...belongs 20,000 leagues under the sea". LOL!
http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/feb09/a ... qsnemo.htm

Also, I like the Tenori-On (as an app on iPhone/ iPad). And I know it's old, but the Oberheim Cyclone is great too. Although AFAIK the people who did the Zyklus were involved in that. I don't know if the Zyklus has the same functionality Kevin?

How about the DSI Poly Evolver?

Or MAX/ MSP?

Or Pure Data?

Or a Nord Modular?

Logic's Matrix Sequencer: http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jul03/a ... es0703.asp

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Re: Pattern sequencers - not developing with the times?

Post by sigment » Tue Mar 17, 2015 8:44 pm

How about the Sequentix P3? I've taken the liberty to bold some of the high points...
The P3 Sequencer is an 8 track, hardware MIDI sequencer, with a user interface comprised of knobs, keys and LEDs. A sixteen character by two line PLED display provides confirmation of pattern data and access to advanced features and configuration options.

P3 allows real-time control of track mutes and simple pattern or pattern chain selection across multiple tracks, plus analogue-style editing of patterns. Each of its 384 patterns has independent values for note, velocity, tie, gate, length, gate delay, and a combination of up to four MIDI controllers, extra notes, or 'auxiliary events', per step.

P3's unique auxiliary events allow the creation of dynamically self-modifying patterns. They can grab values from other tracks, randomise steps, alter track and global settings, and much more. There are three modulation 'accumulators' per track, that can be used as LFOs, perform arpeggiation effects or enable complex pattern progressions.
Furthermore, you can assign front panel knobs to modify or mask these events in real-time, allowing you to create interactive patterns that change predictably as you adjust the knobs - varying in complexity, controlling levels of randomness, even 'morphing' from one pattern to another.

A Force-to-scale option provides preset and user-defined scales to keep everything in key (but defeat-able per pattern step if required), and a configurable 'change mode' allows patterns with different lengths and/or time-bases to free-run, or be synced to a global bar.

P3 has a user configurable memory organisation that allows 3 banks of 16, 6 banks of 8, or 12 banks of 4 sixteen step patterns per track (a total of 384 patterns). Pattern length can be set from 1 to 16 steps, and multiple patterns can be chained in 'playlists' of up to 8 stages, with up to 8 repeats per stage.
RAM is battery backed, and can be dumped and loaded via sysex. Each track can output on a selectable MIDI channel, or multiple tracks can be assigned to the same channel.

[snip]

Pattern length can be set using a soft function key, and various other features such as pattern rotate, copy & paste, randomisation, and data 'sculpting' are present.
The lower knobs are dedicated to note selection.
The upper knobs can be switched between velocity, gate length, step delay and the four auxiliary functions. The auxiliaries can be assigned per pattern to any combination of MIDI continuous controllers, or the auxiliary events.

There's also a real-time record feature, that allows you to quickly enter a pattern from a master keyboard, before making fine adjustments with the knobs. Or you can over-dub new note and velocity values from your keyboard, without affecting the existing pattern rhythm.
With auxes assigned to play extra notes, you can make your pattern up to 5 note polyphonic, and real-time record will record polyphonic patterns straight from a MIDI keyboard.
An arpeggio capture mode allows you to use P3 like an arpeggiator, with the ability to store arpeggios as normal patterns.
Internal resolution is 48 ppqn, which allows fine-tuning of step delay to create the same shuffle effects as the TR909, but with the ability to apply a different shuffle value to each step.

The unit has MIDI in, four MIDI out (single bus) and sync connections.
It can run as tempo master or sync to MIDI clock, and outputs DIN sync and clock-only MIDI from a dedicated SYNC output.

For a complete description of the functionality, please consult the user manual.

The P3 CPU supports firmware updates via MIDI SysEx, so frequent new features (and occasional bug fixes) are easily added - no nasty messing about with processor swaps, and posting chips back and forth !
Details of the sysex message format for firmware update can be found here.
An excellent Windows utility (written by a keen P3 owner) for sysex pattern management and firmware update is available from the Downloads area.
Alternatively, the .syx update files can be replayed using any sysex utility that supports raw sysex dump files. I highly recommend the excellent MIDIOx for this.

I mean, OP, what else are you looking for? #-o

Not to mention the newer products by them and others that are more comprehensive, albeit have a steeper learning curve. It is very rare that you will find a product that does exactly everything you dreamed, that you will be able to learn immediately, for an affordable price.



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