For those who record their own music tracks, whether for fun, professionally, or in the hopes of starting a new professions, a music sequencer can play a vital role. The definition of the term has changed over time and with the development of new technology that is now standard in the music industry, such as the musical instrument digital interface or MIDI.
The changing definition of the sequencer
Since the production of electronic music was first started, sequencers were any devices which recorded information from electronic musical instruments and then played it back to the mixer, musician, or composer. For this reason, sequencers have always been a vital component in devices such as drum machines, keyboards, synthesizers, digital pianos and even music software.
Today, the use of midi sequencer data has cast the role of sequencers in an entirely different scenario. The synced data from the MIDI when read by the sequencer is an important step in a composer’s journey towards putting together an overall piece of music; the use of the MIDI also allows a substantial amount of time to be cut out of the process of creating a specific sound and making sure that vital pieces are not cut out simply due to human error.
Choosing a sequencer
As advanced technology, sequencers are not cheap and not all are created equal. Generally, a music sequencer can be purchased built into workstations or as part of an assemble-yourself project. There are some important things to keep in mind when selecting a sequencer.
1) Is the sequencer right for your musical style? Mixers, engineers, and producers will ensure anyone that piecing together a composition which involved a multitude of musically voices is every bit as intricate as writing the music in the first place. Putting together a piece is a work of art unto itself, not unlike assembling a mosaic, only with tone instead of tesserae. Putting the piece together requires a certain feel to the process, even though to the untrained eye the feel may be about a bunch of lines and graphics on a screen. Therefore, potential buyers of sequencers should make sure they are comfortable with the feel of the sequencer they invest in.
2) Is the audio sequencer user friendly? Like any hardware, sequencers come in varying degrees when it comes to ease of use. Advanced mixers might enjoy the challenge of figuring out various layered functions on their investment, but others may prefer a straightforward approach to the mixing process. Keep in mind here that as a general rule, more complicated processes will yield higher results in the end. User friendly features will include items like the graphics interface and the ease of selection (ie, just a click of the mouse, or do you have to push a combination of buttons on your keyboard?)
3) Is this model reliable? Like any piece of technology, sequencers are prone to bugs. Some companies have just been more successful in preventing bugs from messing up the reliability of their sequencers than others. Some of the names that come up time and time again in terms of reliable sequencers are Cakewalk and LogicExpress as well as yamaha sequencer.
All sequencers will need to be used in tandem with samplers. The compatibility between your music sequencer and your sampler will also be a major consideration in your purchase.