Polyphonic MIDI sequencers/controllers for generative/drone/experimental

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diophantine
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Polyphonic MIDI sequencers/controllers for generative/drone/experimental

Post by diophantine » Mon Apr 26, 2021 8:54 pm

I'm looking for hardware sequencers and/or non-keyboard controllers for controlling my polysynths in a polyphonic fashion. Specifically this would be for more experimental, drone, and/or generative music. I don't consider myself much of a keyboard player and would like a different way to control my polysynths.

I know there's a number of sequencers that offer Euclidian and other generative methods, but from most demos I've seen they don't seem to offer much in creating generative/evolving polyphonic pads and such. And I don't want something where I need to patch a keyboard into it (I already have a MidiRex and MSQ-100). I also have an ADDAC 222 CV to MIDI module, but am looking for standalone (non-modular) options.

I do have a NDLR; I haven't been able to use it a whole lot so far and need to explore it further, but it seems promising. Just want to see what else is out there.

Sensel Morph with Buchla Thunder overlay (and MIDI CV/Host converter) sounds interesting on paper, but might require too much configuration via software?

Maybe the Linnstrument?

Squarp Pyramid and Kilpatrick Carbon seem popular, but I don't know if they will really work for what I want to do?

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Re: Polyphonic MIDI sequencers/controllers for generative/drone/experimental

Post by Ockeghem » Mon Apr 26, 2021 9:56 pm

These are three types:
1) computer or tablet etc. using cables to interface with the synth
2) a device that interfaces with a computer but also connects to the synth as a go-between
3) a stand-alone device not otherwise involving a computer that connects directly to the synth
How do you feel about options 1 and 2?
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Re: Polyphonic MIDI sequencers/controllers for generative/drone/experimental

Post by diophantine » Mon Apr 26, 2021 10:39 pm

Sorry, thought I was more clear but definitely going for a standalone option, without a computer/tablet involved.

If there is an obvious tablet controller to consider I might be interested. No objection to a USB MIDI host adapter, but not interested in something that requires a computer intermediary.

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Re: Polyphonic MIDI sequencers/controllers for generative/drone/experimental

Post by revtor » Tue Apr 27, 2021 8:50 am

Will give mention of the Midiphy Seq4+.

16 tracks, each can hold multiple layers of notes. Over 100 scales on board if you want to constrain notes to scales. Tracks can be set to step, arpeggiate, or transpose other tracks, and time base for each track can be set very slow. Events can be triggered based on # of steps.
Most things can be controlled via external (or internal) midi too.
So, tons of flexibility in terms of setting up evolving sequences. No keyboard required no computer required.

It’s definitely in the “battleship” class of sequencers.

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Re: Polyphonic MIDI sequencers/controllers for generative/drone/experimental

Post by fatbenelton » Tue Apr 27, 2021 9:06 am

Rather than look for something else why not dive into NDLR a bit more as I think it’ll probably be the best option. I have one and thought it was quite simple - drone, pad, arp 1&2 - but there is actually a lot you can do with those ‘presets’. It requires a bit of menu diving but spend some time with it and I think it will really open up.

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Re: Polyphonic MIDI sequencers/controllers for generative/drone/experimental

Post by RickKleffel » Tue Apr 27, 2021 9:46 am

Torso T-1 seems to be exactly what you are looking for....

https://www.torsoelectronics.com/t-1
5fd74da7837d13d6f28b8833_torso-electronics-packshot-T-1-3Q-2-p-1600.jpeg
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diophantine
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Re: Polyphonic MIDI sequencers/controllers for generative/drone/experimental

Post by diophantine » Tue Apr 27, 2021 1:21 pm

revtor wrote:
Tue Apr 27, 2021 8:50 am
Will give mention of the Midiphy Seq4+.
I've actually been intending to build one, but hadn't really thought of it for making this sort of music. I have a MidiSizer MidiAlf which incorporates some of the features (but isn't polyphonic)... it's really fun.

Guess I'll put it higher on my list!

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Re: Polyphonic MIDI sequencers/controllers for generative/drone/experimental

Post by diophantine » Tue Apr 27, 2021 1:25 pm

fatbenelton wrote:
Tue Apr 27, 2021 9:06 am
Rather than look for something else why not dive into NDLR a bit more as I think it’ll probably be the best option. I have one and thought it was quite simple - drone, pad, arp 1&2 - but there is actually a lot you can do with those ‘presets’. It requires a bit of menu diving but spend some time with it and I think it will really open up.
Thanks! I definitely wasn't giving up on the NDLR, more looking for other options in addition to it. But good to hear that you think it is ideal for this sort of thing, and hopefully that will inspire me to spend more time with it sooner than later...

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Re: Polyphonic MIDI sequencers/controllers for generative/drone/experimental

Post by diophantine » Tue Apr 27, 2021 1:27 pm

RickKleffel wrote:
Tue Apr 27, 2021 9:46 am
Torso T-1 seems to be exactly what you are looking for....
Interesting, thanks! Will watch the videos this evening...

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Re: Polyphonic MIDI sequencers/controllers for generative/drone/experimental

Post by Ockeghem » Tue Apr 27, 2021 2:01 pm

diophantine wrote:
Mon Apr 26, 2021 10:39 pm
Sorry, thought I was more clear but definitely going for a standalone option, without a computer/tablet involved.

If there is an obvious tablet controller to consider I might be interested. No objection to a USB MIDI host adapter, but not interested in something that requires a computer intermediary.
Well, your original post mentioned the Linnstrument, which gains additional functionality from a computer, although you might also ignore those functions and go with the default settings.
iPad apps too are a possibility. But again, if standalone will suffice, that’s certainly your choice to make.
Many many options.
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Re: Polyphonic MIDI sequencers/controllers for generative/drone/experimental

Post by Ishkash » Tue Apr 27, 2021 2:16 pm

Korg SQ-64!

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Re: Polyphonic MIDI sequencers/controllers for generative/drone/experimental

Post by diophantine » Tue Apr 27, 2021 6:06 pm

Ockeghem wrote:
Tue Apr 27, 2021 2:01 pm
... Linnstrument, which gains additional functionality from a computer, although you might also ignore those functions and go with the default settings.
Ah, interesting. This I did not know. Always thought it was basically standalone.
I also thought you could latch down individual notes, but seems that the latch is only for using the arpeggiator. Too bad...

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Re: Polyphonic MIDI sequencers/controllers for generative/drone/experimental

Post by diophantine » Tue Apr 27, 2021 6:10 pm

Ishkash wrote:
Tue Apr 27, 2021 2:16 pm
Korg SQ-64!
How so? It's just three 64-step mono sequences, plus drum sequencer, right?

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Re: Polyphonic MIDI sequencers/controllers for generative/drone/experimental

Post by Dave Peck » Tue Apr 27, 2021 6:23 pm

The Octopus sequencer or the Nemo sequencer from Genoqs if you can find one. Very deep and capable standalone midi sequencers.

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Re: Polyphonic MIDI sequencers/controllers for generative/drone/experimental

Post by diophantine » Tue Apr 27, 2021 6:29 pm

Dave Peck wrote:
Tue Apr 27, 2021 6:23 pm
The Octopus sequencer or the Nemo sequencer from Genoqs if you can find one. Very deep and capable standalone midi sequencers.
Oh! I've seen those in the past and they look gorgeous... I never really looked into them (I think my wallet told me not to) but I think I'll have to read the manuals...

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Re: Polyphonic MIDI sequencers/controllers for generative/drone/experimental

Post by Ishkash » Tue Apr 27, 2021 7:33 pm

diophantine wrote:
Tue Apr 27, 2021 6:10 pm
Ishkash wrote:
Tue Apr 27, 2021 2:16 pm
Korg SQ-64!
How so? It's just three 64-step mono sequences, plus drum sequencer, right?
The three 64-step sequences you mention are 8-voice polyphonic, not monophonic.

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Re: Polyphonic MIDI sequencers/controllers for generative/drone/experimental

Post by dubonaire » Tue Apr 27, 2021 8:11 pm

I hate to say this because I aways give the same answer and there is the waiting list but Cirklon is good for this.

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Re: Polyphonic MIDI sequencers/controllers for generative/drone/experimental

Post by diophantine » Tue Apr 27, 2021 8:14 pm

Ishkash wrote:
Tue Apr 27, 2021 7:33 pm
diophantine wrote:
Tue Apr 27, 2021 6:10 pm
Ishkash wrote:
Tue Apr 27, 2021 2:16 pm
Korg SQ-64!
How so? It's just three 64-step mono sequences, plus drum sequencer, right?
The three 64-step sequences you mention are 8-voice polyphonic, not monophonic.
Interesting. I'd not seen this in the few videos I'd watched previously. Looking at the manual, I guess this is the "chord" mode? Can they be programmed (or even randomized) from the SQ-64 itself?

(Really wish the current Korg manuals were as good as the gear they manufactured...)

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Re: Polyphonic MIDI sequencers/controllers for generative/drone/experimental

Post by Ishkash » Tue Apr 27, 2021 10:48 pm

diophantine wrote:
Tue Apr 27, 2021 8:14 pm
Ishkash wrote:
Tue Apr 27, 2021 7:33 pm
diophantine wrote:
Tue Apr 27, 2021 6:10 pm
Ishkash wrote:
Tue Apr 27, 2021 2:16 pm
Korg SQ-64!
How so? It's just three 64-step mono sequences, plus drum sequencer, right?
The three 64-step sequences you mention are 8-voice polyphonic, not monophonic.
Interesting. I'd not seen this in the few videos I'd watched previously. Looking at the manual, I guess this is the "chord" mode? Can they be programmed (or even randomized) from the SQ-64 itself?

(Really wish the current Korg manuals were as good as the gear they manufactured...)
Chord mode is likely one way. On the other hand, playing the part in via an external controller i.e. a keyboard ought to work too. There may be another manual way to input polyphony as well. I'm not sure as I haven't received my SQ-64 yet. But my understanding is that polyphony is not exclusively tied to chord mode.

Struggle

Re: Polyphonic MIDI sequencers/controllers for generative/drone/experimental

Post by Struggle » Wed Apr 28, 2021 7:07 am

I’ve been using the Polyend Seq to sequence my Prophet 12 with some really nice results. There’s a chord mode per track, but I like using each track to play individual notes with some at different lengths and randomization. It feels like a luxury item with my current setup and I also have a Deluge so having a hard time justifying it. It is fun and inspiring to play though..can’t personally say that about many sequencers I’ve tried.

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Re: Polyphonic MIDI sequencers/controllers for generative/drone/experimental

Post by Lauflicht » Wed Apr 28, 2021 1:17 pm

For high ("unlimited") polyphony probably a MPC is one of the best choices for MIDI.
In case time doesn't matter, also have a look at the OXI One, which is going into Kickstarter early May:
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Re: Polyphonic MIDI sequencers/controllers for generative/drone/experimental

Post by Nelson Baboon » Wed Apr 28, 2021 5:36 pm

i've almost given up posting in sequencer threads.....

all sequencers have fatal flaws. The more powerful they are, the more they force you into their way of working and their limitations, and so you can't accomplish other things you want, or work the way you want, etc.

the only thing i'll offer here is a sequencer that does not satisfy one of your basic requirements (polyphonic tracks) but, to my mind, is great for very core generative functionality.

The schrittmacher allows you to decouple all of the basic parameters of a track from each other. The notes, the timing, the order of the notes, the velocity, and transposition (of notes and of controllers). Great flexibility of timing - from something like 1 or 2 midi ticks up to 16 beats.
so, a simple example would be a track of say 9 notes, with track 2 defining the velocity, track 3 the transposition, a couple of 'mode' tracks which defines the timing per step, and an order track which defines the order per step...so it can go forward on step one, step 2 can be random direction, step 3 can go backwards, etc.....so one can get into little sub patterns, etc.

but then - monophonic. fuck. the new oxy one looks great, and I'm hoping that it will evolve into something great. I'm also really enjoying the pyramid.

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Re: Polyphonic MIDI sequencers/controllers for generative/drone/experimental

Post by revtor » Thu Apr 29, 2021 2:45 pm

Nelson is of course correct on that. As you get into more complicated sequencers with more possibilities you are definitely more involved in the user interface and user experience that the coder or programmer behind it has needed or chosen to implement.
The Schrittmacher does look lovely for modular type free form sequencing!!!
Whatever you choose, at some point you have to dig in and really give it some effort. RTFnM. Then after a while you will realize if it’s a drag, or if it works for the situation and “music making” mindset that you possess.

Ideally, you have a friend with a couple of these or you can find a video that really shows the specific process or feature well on the device you are considering. There aren’t many Perfect Circuit synth type shops out in the wild unfortunately! Online manuals and YouTube videos only go so far in allowing one to assess their possible user experience. It’s the buy/sell game. Which many of us have been through and I think maybe just accept as part of the GAS process.
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Re: Polyphonic MIDI sequencers/controllers for generative/drone/experimental

Post by diophantine » Thu Apr 29, 2021 8:09 pm

Struggle wrote:
Wed Apr 28, 2021 7:07 am
I’ve been using the Polyend Seq to sequence my Prophet 12 with some really nice results. There’s a chord mode per track, but I like using each track to play individual notes with some at different lengths and randomization. It feels like a luxury item with my current setup and I also have a Deluge so having a hard time justifying it. It is fun and inspiring to play though..can’t personally say that about many sequencers I’ve tried.
I never looked too closely at the Seq since the multi-color pads on other Polyend stuff seems to really confuse me (at least in videos... also, I'm partially colorblind). But I see that's not at all the case with the Seq & took another look... it seems really neat. I like the features it has, plus the simplicity. I assume you can point all 8 tracks to the same midi channel? And then (when not using other features like random/etc.) do all the steps in a track default to the root note?

Struggle

Re: Polyphonic MIDI sequencers/controllers for generative/drone/experimental

Post by Struggle » Thu Apr 29, 2021 9:41 pm

diophantine wrote:
Thu Apr 29, 2021 8:09 pm
I assume you can point all 8 tracks to the same midi channel? And then (when not using other features like random/etc.) do all the steps in a track default to the root note?
Yeah tracks can all be the same midi channel so you can build chords using multiple tracks. The steps in a track do default to the root note until changed by holding a step and turning the note knob.

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