what I like in a MIDI sequencer

Support & discussion regarding DAWs and MIDI sequencers.

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StudioDave
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what I like in a MIDI sequencer

Postby StudioDave » Sat Jan 11, 2014 2:18 pm

Greetings,

Just a description of my rather idiosyncratic MIDI sequencing habits.

From my usual workflow with the sequencer :

Edits apply arbitrarily from any point to any other point in a track (i.e. not delimited by measure/bar lines).
Block edits in multiple tracks, including copy, delete, move, insert, etc., ignoring muted tracks (or not)
Full keyboard entry support, no mouse absolutely required
Any & all edits performable to the clock tick (up to 192 ppq)
"Zap" edit - material is deleted and copied to buffer, leaves track defined but emptied
Ability to use time sigs from n/1 to n/64 (normal musical values)
Polymetric tracks
Full-mix/track-view/event-level edits, including CCs
RT control of CC7, velocity, program change, etc.

Typical edit operations:

Retrograde (note-starts only or not)
Invert - including harmonic invert (by key)
Transpose - including harmonic transpose (by key)
Rebar area
Rebar track to another track's time sig
Track merge
Track splits (by range of pitch/velocity/duration/etc)
Quantization (start-time and duration) by degree
Velocity/duration/onset shift or scale values
CC insertion/thinning/mapping
CC values scale/shift (by track)
Tempo edits to the clock tick (in a dedicated tempo track)
Use of "irrational" rhythms (i.e. 5 into 4, 7 into 3, etc)
Track/event companding (expand or compress elapsed time)
Constrained randomization of pitch/onset/duration/velocity (including pitch randomization in key)

The sequencer has synchronization via SMPTE/MTC, SPP, and MIDI clock. I can also connect it to anything via QJackCtrl.

It's also very old and has many serious limitations, none of which obviate its utility to my work. However, I do NOT advise new users - or even the not-so-new - to use it. I mastered its operations long ago, I have a very fast production flow with it, and I don't need what it doesn't offer (e.g. undo/redo, large memory access, plugin support, OSC support).

Operating the sequencer is simplicity itself. All edits are quickly available from pop-up menus callable with a single keystroke. In fact, almost all operations are driven by a single keystroke. For such an ancient app its ergonomics are well-considered. And of course, since it was a commercial product back in the day, it also has thorough and well-written documentation.

MIDI music composition has changed a great deal since its introduction in the 1980s. Plugin support is now mandatory, along with GUIs for the design of filter and other envelopes. Hence my aversion to recommending my favorite sequencer to anyone else. Nevertheless, for my purposes nothing comes close to it, not in Linux nor anywhere else AFAICT. Even in programs where some of my favored operations exist they are not so easily accessible, and I still miss the completely keyboard-controlled operation.

There are many fine examples of Linux MIDI software. Unfortunately for me, no strictly-MIDI sequencer currently available meets my requirements.

Best,

dp

tux99
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Re: what I like in a MIDI sequencer

Postby tux99 » Fri Jan 17, 2014 7:59 am

So which one is your favourite MIDI sequencer? I didn't see it named in your post (maybe I missed it?).

StudioDave
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Re: what I like in a MIDI sequencer

Postby StudioDave » Fri Jan 17, 2014 12:11 pm

tux99 wrote:So which one is your favourite MIDI sequencer? I didn't see it named in your post (maybe I missed it?).


Sorry about that, I didn't name it because it isn't a native Linux sequencer. It's Voyetra's Sequencer Plus Gold, I run it under DOSemu.

Best,

dp

gazpacho
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Re: what I like in a MIDI sequencer

Postby gazpacho » Sun Jan 19, 2014 10:45 pm

Edits apply arbitrarily from any point to any other point in a track (i.e. not delimited by measure/bar lines).

Groove options to offset notes from the bars and various swing options in quantization is very convenient to humanize sound.

StudioDave
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Re: what I like in a MIDI sequencer

Postby StudioDave » Mon Jan 20, 2014 10:29 am

gazpacho wrote:Groove options to offset notes from the bars and various swing options in quantization is very convenient to humanize sound.


SPG has that too, both the offset and the groove quantize function. It also has randomization functions for start-time, duration, pitch, and velocity.

Best,

dp

shimpe
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Re: what I like in a MIDI sequencer

Postby shimpe » Wed Jan 22, 2014 8:52 pm

Without investigating all existing systems, here are a few of my "dream features".

"must" haves (i'm in no position to make demands, but it's a "dream" anyway):

1. select block of notes (in one or more tracks) and even out the volume changes (kind of low pass filter on midi velocity values)
2. select block of notes (in one or more tracks) and make a smooth crescendo/decrescendo (volume increase/decrease)
3. select block of notes (in one or more tracks) and make a smooth accelerando/ritardando (tempo changes)

nice-to-experiment withs:

4. smart quantization that automatically tries to track and adapt to not-too-extreme tempo changes,
5. select block of notes (in one or more tracks) and apply musical transformations (transposition, modal transposition, retrograde, inversion, modal inversion)
6. select block of notes (in one or more tracks) and apply rhytmical transformations (double or halve note lengths keeping relative durations (to speed up or slow down a certain passage, or to create a "stretto"), double or halve note lengths keeping the same absolute durations (e.g. to create a staccato or portato effect))
7. select a chord and transform it to something else (typically much more complicated) by applying a recipe to the chord notes (i.e. using the chord notes as "arguments" in a "template", e.g. resulting in an auto-arranger type of thing)

emillo
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Re: what I like in a MIDI sequencer

Postby emillo » Thu Feb 06, 2014 3:11 pm

+1 for Groove quantize !
In my opinion the absence of this feature is the greatest show-stopper in linux MIDI sequencers (muse is the one I like most)
At the very least you should be able to use a user-defined grid instead of a rigid (not very musical) straight grid; then, you could start building a library of such grids (groove templates). The dream feature then is to be able to extract a groove from an audio sample and use it as groove template for MIDI data. But even the basic groove quantize would be better than nothing for producing less robotic MIDI sequences. As Dave said, this isn't new stuff, it has been present in MIDI sequencers for decades.
Emiliano Grilli
Linux user #209089
http://www.emillo.net

Eino
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Re: what I like in a MIDI sequencer

Postby Eino » Thu Feb 06, 2014 5:14 pm

Timidity has been around since the mid 90's, and it's widely used.
The quality of the midi rendering you get from Timidity is almost solely decided by what soundfont you load it with.
Myself I use fluidr3, with some custom sound fonts added.
It working as a demon with nted, and lmms, works for me.
It is nothing fancy it just works.

BTW midi sequencers just render the midi, whereas midi editors. Do more of what the first post is about. :wink:
You may want to try lmms, as an midi editor. It gives you a wide spectrum of stuff other midi editors don't have.
"Music is everybody's possession. It's only publishers who think that people own it. "
John Lennon

https://soundcloud.com/eino1953


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