The GRID SEQUENCER
Released as Freeware October 2002
Based on a dream of Tim Conrardy
I had a dream..October 2002
I walked into a room of what appeared to be a pawn shop. Many mechanical and strange devises were strawn about on tables and shelves. I heard an interesting sound and looked up and saw to my eyes what looked like an "old" ARP 2600 synthisizer. It was a large rectagular box with many knobs and even small speakers on each side.It had a "gold" appearance and shimmered in the pawnshop lights.What was interesting about this "box" is that it had a large grid in the middle of it. The grid had many small pins inserted into it.Getting closer to the instrument, I pushed a button. Sounds started coming out of the speakers. Analog Bass Sounds. I tweaked the filter controls.Squeaks and squaks came out of the speakers.Then I took a pin from the grid and inserted it into another hole of the grid. The sound changed. The notes coming out were different. Then I realized that the grid was actually creating the notes. I could insert a pin in another location and that would change the notes coming out. I looked up and heard the sounds coming out of the speakers.I could almost feel the notes. Then ...I woke up!
Feeling inspired, I posted to the Atari-MIDI programmers forum and told them about the dream and felt that the grid concept might be a good idea for a different type of sequencer and narrated some possabilities. To my wonder, Matucana ( also know as Hellmuth on the list) replied and actually created a program based on my dream! The result is The Grid Sequencer. Instead of pins, you use the mouse to "insert" the pins into the grid. Whats more, it is an interactive instrument with many possabilites then I could dream of ( literally) You could say it was a dream come true!
The Grid Sequencer
1. Start,Stop with space bar or mouse.
2. Random Grid entries
3. Random Pitch entries
4. MIDI Channel selection
5. seven clock rates
6. Eight BPM settings
7. Patch Change (SND)
8. Transposition +12 to -12
9. Selectable Start and End points
10. 17x24 grid
11. Selectable pitch row.
12. Pitch/Scale editor in seperate window
13. Midi Clock Out
14. Save performance as Standard MIDI file.
15. Save as Grid Sequencer format.
16.All functions can use mouse or keyboard shortcuts with help screen.
17. General MIDI ( GM) patch display screen.
The best thing to do is to download the program and start playing with it.Get used to the keyboard shortcuts. Try some different scales, as Matucana makes it easy to try new scales with the [Generate Pitch] selection from the File menu. The random settings can be used as well. Simply by pressing D on the keyboard will generate a whole new sequence based on the scale used. This as well as using the transposition shortcuts , you can create a composition which can then be saved as a Standard MIDI file. The Grid Sequencer also works well with percussion voices. Set the channel to 10, and you can generate some interesting percussion patterns.
Whats more: Matucana is continuing to upgrade the program as we are still implementing new ideas. What started out to be a very simple program has grown to a full fledged interactive tool.
NEW for 2003
Matucana has now upgraded the program and it is now called ISEQ ( Interactive Sequencer). It is basically several interactive modules in one. There is an upgraded version of the Grid Sequencer ( discussed above) however with more features: Multiple MIDI channels, random parameters and more. Here is Matucana's notes:
The S/E row indicates start and end point of the sequence. ">" is the start point, "<" the end point. The steps are numbered from 1 to 24, above and below the grid. By clicking on one of these numbers, you can select the next step manually.
Now start the sequencer by pressing the space bar. Actually, the space bar toggles play on and off.
The lowermost row (-12 to 12) selects a transpose. The selected value is added to any pitch value before output.
The two bars in the upper left control the length of the notes. 1/16, 1/8, 1/4 depict the note values. Click to select. '0' means the 'normal' value, 'T' means triplets (2/3 of the normal value) and "." means dotted notes (1.5 times the normal value).
On the right side of the screen, the BPM column lets you select among eight different speeds. The MODE column has three buttons: 'forw' means FORWARD: play starts with the start value and is incremented each step. 'back' means BACKWARD: play begins with the end value and is decremented each step. 'rand' means RANDOM: each time another step ist selected randomly, of course taking into account the start and end values. You can set the start point 'higher' than the end point: the steps between end and start will be omitted.
That leaves the row in the upper left. First of all, every plaed note is recorded to save them later. By pressing RESET, that memory is cleared. RNDGrid randomizes the black circles of the grid, and RNDPtch randomizes the pitch value list on the left.
MENUE works only if the sequencer is not playing. It gives access to the normal Atari menu. her, you can load or save your setup, save the recorded sequence as midi file or load pitch values from various modes.
PATCH MAPs included. From the menu, you can select "Patch Map". This opens a new dialog box, where you can edit, load, and save 10 patch maps.
These 10 maps are accisseble by typing the 0..9 keys on the keypad. ISEQ then sends the values as program changes to midi.
You can click now on the "Velocity", "Channel", and "S/E" button in the lower left which now hide random functions.
With "S/E", it does not matter if you click left or right. The start an end points are randomized.
With "Velocity" and "Channel", left-clicking assigns new random values. Right-clicking randomizes the positions of the current values.
Mode and key edit are back now.
"Save current" saves the current parameters as displayed on the screen. The Load function automatically detects old files as well as new files saved as "block" or "current".
Based on the impression of the sequence of "Crack", by SPK. Normally, each midi event has fixed properties - pitch, velocity, channel, length - but the sequence of "Crack" did not. Clearly, it had a defined sequence of pitches, and a defined sequence of velocity, but of different length. This is the idea of this controller.
It has five loops, one for pitch, velocity, channel, length, and a controller event each. All five loops can be edited and adjusted interactively and independently. Each loop consists has the same structure, as follows:
- up to 16 steps
- freely definable start and end points
- forward, backward and random play mode
There are some other parameters, dependent on the type. PITCH has the TRANSPOSE and OCTAVE parameters to adjust pitch globally. VELOCITY has offsets -20,-10,0,10,20 to adjust global velocity LENGTH has a global length factor, ranging from 0.5 to 2.5 CONTROL lets you adjust the control number which is being sent.
Some structures that were introduced with the grid sequencer are available here as well. Defining pitches (menu: generate pitch), save and recall of parameter sets (F1..F10), patch maps (keypad 0..9) are present here.
Also available is Matucana's SysEx applications for the Casio CZ series and the Kawai XD5 percussion synthisizer. Owning a XD5 myself, his bank manager program was another dream come true. You can also import K4 patches and use them in the XD5 as the XD5 is very much like the K4 synthisis structure. You will also find my own XD5 patches which are "synth" patches, so it turns your XD5 into a synth. More to come as well.See the download section.
Download the original Grid Sequencer
Download Kawai XD5 Bank Manager
Download Tims Kawai XD5 Synth sounds
Download CZ Edit for the Casio CZ Series
Check out Matucana's Web site. He is also the author of MSG (MIDI Sequence Generator) available on his download page as well as this site. Also check out his CD's.
Matucana's Web Site
MSG page at TAMW