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Workaday iPad sequencer apps
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Music Software  
Author Workaday iPad sequencer apps
555x555
I've been shopping for an iPad sequencer for live use, and the iOS world is...strange. There are some really amazing apps like Fugue Machine, Concentric Rhythm, and Lemur, all of which I might get and use to excellent effect for one or another purpose. But it seems like none of them tick all the boxes to serve as The Sequencer Which Can Always Do What I Want (however no fun and inelegant it is to make it do what I want). Namely:

* It must have a clip launch interface with some kind of clip launch quantization
* It must have the ability to route to arbitary midi devices/IAA apps for different clips/tracks/whatever paradigm
* It must be able to record and play back arbitrary midi data with good timing
* It must have decent but optional quantization control for that data
* It must allow simultaneous sequences of different lengths
* Recorded midi data should be editable and viewable in a somewhat usable fashion
* It must have undo and redo, of at least a few levels
* Tempo control of individual clips would be nice (direct support for polyrhythms), but I can live without it.

There are some other things that'd be nice, but this seems like the bare minimum to me to be able to reliably get shit done with an iPad. Does this exist? I'm thinking maybe Xequencer? I'd rather not go with a full-blown iOS DAW, but maybe that's the only way to get all of this?
ngarjuna
Have you tried Modstep? I’m not sure about every one of your needed features but it definitely checks most if not all of those boxes iirc.
555x555
Yeah, ModStep is what I currently have. It does tick a bunch of those boxes, but the step editor can’t edit an arbitrary input very well, and the piano roll editor is not so great, there’s no undo/redo AFAIK, quantization is weird and inflexible, the record timing is off, and all sequences are always 16 step single measure (multiple measure sequences don’t deal well with notes held from the previous measure).

Oh yeah, that’s another necessary feature for me: to be able to set the time signature, at least to 2/4, 3/4, 4/4, 6/8, 7/8, 5/4, but preferably to arbitrary values. ModStep is 4/4 16 steps, always.
Panason
The Ipad is probably more useful as a controller... I wouldn't look there for a main sequencer.

What would you do with arbitrary time signatures? Just curious.
555x555
Panason wrote:
The Ipad is probably more useful as a controller... I wouldn't look there for a main sequencer.


Yeah, I'd accept being able to use it as just a clip launcher with midi data imported from a sequencer on a computer. But even then I'm not sure what a good workflow would be. Does anyone else use it like this?

Quote:
What would you do with arbitrary time signatures? Just curious.


It's just the sort of thing that you need sometimes. As a former drummer I just sort of sometimes think of something and discover it's in a weird time signature. Nothing sucks more than devoting time into developing a workflow with a sequencer and then suddenly finding out that it won't do something. Apart from the standard 2/4, 3/4, 4/4, 5/4, 6/8, 7/8, sometimes something ends up in 10/4, or 11/8 -- really anything can suddenly become essential when the song needs it.

It's in general pretty obnoxious that most software has less generality than a hand-notated musical system, developed before jazz, developed in Europe before there was much real consciousness of (the rest of the) world music.
justscratch
have you tried Genome? not quite as flashy as some of the newer offerings + it's older, but still updated I believe.. not sure it checks all the boxes though
GovernorSilver
I've been looking into Xequence, which according to its dev is not designed to build sequences around a specific time signature.

Unfortunately it's not as intuitive to learn for sequencing as, say, Korg Gadget or SunVox (once you get past the tracker-like look, it's actually pretty easy to enter note events and stuff). I had to give up for a while as I was leaving for vacation.

Now that I'm back, I'll give the new tutorials a shot and see how I get on.
555x555
Yeah, the two I'm still looking at are Genome and Xequence. Xequence seems perfect except that there's no clip launcher. Genome seems like it has an awesome clip launcher, but doesn't have arbitrary time signatures, and I don't think you can have clips that are in a different time signature from the song as a whole. Can anyone who has these verify? Also, are any of the iOS daws - fl studio mobile, cubasis, etc. - worth checking out? I'm only really interested in the MIDI part.
GovernorSilver
555x555 wrote:
Yeah, the two I'm still looking at are Genome and Xequence. Xequence seems perfect except that there's no clip launcher. Genome seems like it has an awesome clip launcher, but doesn't have arbitrary time signatures, and I don't think you can have clips that are in a different time signature from the song as a whole. Can anyone who has these verify? Also, are any of the iOS daws - fl studio mobile, cubasis, etc. - worth checking out? I'm only really interested in the MIDI part.


Yeah, Xequence is really "just" a MIDI sequencer in the purest sense - as people understood MIDI sequencers to be in the pre-Ableton era.

You could load your samples into an app like BS-16i then have Xequence trigger it over MIDI. You might have to convert your audio clips to SF2 but there seem to be tools out there for that kind of job.

Or you could try SunVox, which supports any time signature, individual pattern lengths, tempo changes, can play samples...

Not sure what you mean by arbitrary MIDI data, unless you're talking about linear sequencing - Xequence might be better suited to that. Forgot if SunVox has undo/redo - it does show MIDI data fairly clearly.
555x555
GovernorSilver wrote:
You could load your samples into an app like BS-16i then have Xequence trigger it over MIDI. You might have to convert your audio clips to SF2 but there seem to be tools out there for that kind of job.


Sorry I think maybe I’m using the wrong term. I mean clip launching as in launching midi clips, repeating, at a screen press, MPC style. I’m fine getting external things to play samples, if I need it.

Quote:
Or you could try SunVox, which supports any time signature, individual pattern lengths, tempo changes, can play samples...


I will definitely look into that. Tempo changes are something I might use more if I could actually do that.

Quote:
Not sure what you mean by arbitrary MIDI data, unless you're talking about linear sequencing - Xequence might be better suited to that. Forgot if SunVox has undo/redo - it does show MIDI data fairly clearly.


I just mean that, if a midi device can send it, the program can record it, play it back in the same time/order in which it was sent, and hopefully also display it somehow. So ccs, sysex, etc. i’m Not sure anything does sysex, actually, but it’d be nice since some hardware synths aren’t too careful about ccs vs sysex.
ugokcen
I am a big fan of midiSTEPs. It's a SH-101 style sequencer so it does not record your keyboard performance as a normal DAW would, but for step sequencing the sh-101 method is super fast and fun. Especially if your keyboard skills are lacking like me hihi

The nice thing about midiSTEPS is that it is 4 independent tracks that you can route anywhere - ios synths or external hardware. Each track can hold 16 clips of whatever length sequence you want. And then there's a nice performance page where you launch clips, mute or solo tracks, etc.
GovernorSilver
555x555 wrote:

Sorry I think maybe I’m using the wrong term. I mean clip launching as in launching midi clips, repeating, at a screen press, MPC style. I’m fine getting external things to play samples, if I need it.


No problem. I've never owned an MPC but I kind of think I understand. I've been catching up on the Xequence thread on the AB forum, and seems that Xequence may be able to launch MIDI clips, or at least MIDI loops.

As for SunVox, I avoided it for a while because I was intimidated by the retro tracker-like look, but once I got past the cosmetics, I found that it's actually very user friendly. I started using it because I had a 16GB iPhone that couldn't handle Korg Gadget's size. Solar Lune's tutorials on YouTube are very helpful. The online manual mentions Undo/Redo as keyboard shortcuts but I don't recall finding those functions on iPhone. I guess you could try a desktop computer version of SunVox as it's donation-ware (it's "free" but donation is expected if the user likes it).

555x555 wrote:

Quote:
Not sure what you mean by arbitrary MIDI data, unless you're talking about linear sequencing - Xequence might be better suited to that. Forgot if SunVox has undo/redo - it does show MIDI data fairly clearly.


I just mean that, if a midi device can send it, the program can record it, play it back in the same time/order in which it was sent, and hopefully also display it somehow. So ccs, sysex, etc. i’m Not sure anything does sysex, actually, but it’d be nice since some hardware synths aren’t too careful about ccs vs sysex.


I believe Seven Systems has claimed that Xequence can do the above. I originally bought it with the intention of using it to record MIDI data output by Rozetta and other MIDI generative apps, for arranging into a more finished composition.

SunVox can reportedly capture MIDI but I haven't tried this aspect of it. Since it's sequencer is pattern-oriented rather than linear, you have to create a pattern and set a length before recording MIDI into it.

Beatmaker 2 was pretty decent as a MIDI recorder, based on the tiny bit of testing I did, using Gestrument as the MIDI generator. It had a good linear sequencing mode. Unfortunately, Beatmaker 3 seems to have abandoned linear sequencing in favor of patterns.
555x555
Just to follow up for posterity, I ended up getting Genome. Xequence seems like it's better in every category but the midi clip launching. But for live use that's a pretty important feature.

Genome has...iffy support for multiple time signatures. But it is in fact present! There's no per-clip selection of time signature, but clips keep the time signature with which they were sequenced. So if you have a generally 4/4 song but want a 5/4 clip, switch the time signature to 5/4 globally, sequence the clip, then switch it back. I'm not sure whether this is intended or not, so there may be bugs, but I haven't run into any just yet.
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