List of music sequencers

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Music sequencers are hardware devices or application software that can record, edit, or play back music, by handling note and performance information.

Hardware sequencers[edit]

Many synthesizers, and by definition all music workstations, groove machines and drum machines, contain their own sequencers.

The following are specifically designed to function primarily as the music sequencers:

Rotating object with pins or holes[edit]

  • Barrel or cylinder with pins (since 9th or 14th century) — utilized on barrel organs, carillons, music boxes
  • Metal disc with punched holes (late 18th century) — utilized on several music boxes such as Polyphon, Regina, Symphonion, Ariston, Graphonola (early version), etc.

Punched paper[edit]


Oramics (1957) controls sounds by graphics on films
  • Variophone (1930) by Evgeny Sholpo—on earliest version, hand drawn waves on film or disc were used to synthesize sound, and later versions were promised to experiment on musical intonations and temporal characteristics of live music performance, however not finished. Variophone is often referred as a forerunner of drawn sound system including ANS synthesizer and Oramics.
  • Composer-Tron (1953) by Osmond Kendal—rhythmical sequences were controlled via marking cue on film, while timbre of note or envelope-shape of sound were defined via hand drawn shapes on a surface of CRT input device, drawn with a grease pencil.[3]
  • ANS synthesizer (1938-1958) by Evgeny Murzin—an earliest realtime additive synthesizer using 720 microtonal sine waves (1/6 semitones × 10 octaves) generated by five glas discs. Composers could control time evolution of amplitudes of each microtones via scratches on glass plate user interface covered with black mastic.
  • Oramics (1957) by Daphne Oram—hand drawn contours on a set of ten sprocketed synchronized strips of 35 film were used to control various parameters of monophonic sound generator (frequency, timbre, amplitude and duration).[4] Polyphonic sounds were obtained using multitrack recording technique.

Electro-mechanical sequencers[edit]

Analog sequencers[edit]

Analog sequencers with CV/Gate interface[edit]

Moog 960 Sequential Controller and 962 Sequential Switch

Analog-style step sequencers[edit]

Analog-style MIDI step sequencers[edit]

Since the analog synthesizer revivals in the 1990s, newly designed MIDI sequencers with a series of knobs or slider similar to analog sequencer have appeared. These often equip CV/Gate and DIN sync interface along with MIDI, and even the patch memory for multiple sequence patterns and possibly song sequence. These analog-digital hybrid machines are often called "Analog-style MIDI step sequencer" or "MIDI analog sequencer", etc.

Quasimidi Polymorph (1999) has built-in step sequencer with a series of value knobs (bottom)
Analog-style MIDI pattern sequencers[edit]

Several machines also provide the song mode to play the sequence of memoried patterns in specified order, as on drum machine.

Step sequencers (supported on)[edit]

Typical step sequencers are integrated on drum machines, bass machines, groove machines, music production machines, and these software versions. Often, these also support the semi-realtime recording mode, too.

  • MFB Step 64—Standalone step sequencer dedicated for drum patterns (16steps/4tracks or 64steps/1tracks, 118program×4banks, 16song sequences, each with up to 128 sequences)[16]

Embedded self-contained step sequencers[edit]

Several tiny keyboards provide a step sequencer combined with an independent timing mode for recording and performance:

  • Casio VL-Tone VL-1 (1979), Casiotone MT-70 (c.1984), Sampletone SK-1 (1986), etc.—Timings of musical notes stored on the step sequencer, can be designated by the two trigger buttons labeled "One Key Play", around the right hand position

Embedded CV/Gate step sequencers[edit]

Several machines have white and black chromatic keypads, to enter the musical phrases.

Embedded MIDI step sequencers[edit]

Groovebox-type machines with white and black chromatic keypads, often support step recording mode along with realtime recording mode:

Other groovebox-type machines (including several music production machines) also often support step recording mode, of course:

Button-grid-style step sequencers[edit]

Recently emerging button-grid-style interfaces/instruments are naturally support step sequence. On these machines, one axis on grid means musical scale or sample to play, and another axis means timing of notes.

In addition, newly designed hardware MIDI sequencers equipping a series of knobs/sliders similar to analog sequencers, are appeared. For details, see #Analog-style MIDI step sequencers.

Digital sequencers[edit]


Also often support Gate clock and DIN sync interfaces.

Proprietary digital interfaces (pre MIDI era)[edit]

Hardware MIDI sequencers[edit]

Standalone MIDI sequencers[edit]
MIDI phrase sequencers[edit]
Embedded MIDI sequencers[edit]
Sequential Circuits Six-Trak has embedded realtime MIDI sequencer.
MIDI sequencers with embedded sound module[edit]
  • Yamaha TQ5—desktop version of EOS YS200 FM workstation
Palmtop MIDI sequencers[edit]
Accompaniment machines[edit]
Boss DR-5
Yamaha QR10

Open-source hardware[edit]

Software sequencers and DAWs with sequencing features[edit]

Free, open source[edit]


DAW with MIDI sequencers[edit]

Drum machines[edit]


Software MIDI sequencers[edit]

Loop-oriented DAWs with MIDI sequencers[edit]

Tracker-oriented DAWs with MIDI sequencers[edit]

DAWs with MIDI sequencers[edit]

Integrated software studio environments[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Das Siemens-Studio für elektronische Musik von Alexander Schaaf und Helmut Klein" (in German). Deutsches Museum. Archived from the original on 2013-09-30.
  2. ^ Holmes, Thom (2012). "Early Synthesizers and Experimenters". Electronic and Experimental Music: Technology, Music, and Culture (4th ed.). Routledge. pp. 190192. ISBN 978-1-136-46895-7. (See also excerpt of pp. 157160 from Holmes 2008)
  3. ^ "The Composer-Tron (1953)". 120 Years of Electronic Music ( Archived from the original on 2012-04-02.
  4. ^ "Daphne Oram and 'Oramics' (1959)". 120 Years of Electronic Music ( Archived from the original on 2011-11-19.
  5. ^ "Wall of Sound (sequencer)". Archived from the original on 2011-11-13.
  6. ^ "Circle Machine". Archived from the original on 2011-09-27.—includes 2 sound files: Raymond Scott's demonstration, and commercial soundtrack for new batteries of Ford Motors.
  7. ^ US patent 3,207,835, Howard E. Holman and Joseph H. Hearne (Wurlitzer Company), "Rhythm Device", issued 1965-09-21 
  8. ^ Holmes, Thom (2008). Electronic and experimental music: technology, music, and culture (3rd ed.). Routledge. p. 222. ISBN 978-1-135-90617-7. Moog admired Buchla's work, recently stating that Buchla designed a system not only for "making new sounds but [for] making textures out of these sounds by specifying when these sounds could change and how regular those change would be."
  9. ^ "Moog 960 Sequential Controller".—3×8-step sequencer module
  10. ^ "Moog 961 Interface".—interface module to convert several signal types including audio input, V-trigger (CV), and S-trigger (short-to-ground trigger for Envelope Controller)
  11. ^ "Moog 962 Sequential Switch".—switching module for 960 to convert 3x8-step sequence into 1x24-step sequence, etc.
  12. ^ "Synthesizer 2C with optional 960 and 961 - 1968 Modular System "Synthesizer 2"".—On the, the photograph with caption "Synthesizer 2C with optional 960 and 961" on this page seems to be the earliest record of Moog's sequencer module.
  13. ^ MFB-URZWERG, MFB Musik Elektronik, archived from the original on 2011-12-02
  14. ^ MFB-URZWERG Pro, MFB Musik Elektronik, archived from the original on 2012-06-18
  15. ^ Roland EF-303 Groove Effects - Owner's manual (PDF), Roland Corporation, pp. 48, 53, 54, archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-05-31
  16. ^ Sequencer MFB-STEP64, MFB Musik Elektronik, archived from the original on 2012-04-05
  17. ^ "SM0600 Project - A Digital Sequencer - Rebuilding the Roland CSQ-700". Emulator Archive.
  18. ^ Amison, Brandon (17 Jul 1999). "Yaking Cat Music Studios QAQA answers - Subject:0033 Re:Clothing ETC". Yaking Cat Music Studios (Synclavier Assistance).
  19. ^ Furia, Steve De; Joe Scacciaferro (1986). The MIDI implementation book. Third Earth Pub. p. 25. ISBN 978-0-88188-558-3.—MIDI Implementation Chart of Synclavier MIDI Option v0.9 in 1985.
  20. ^ Williams, Tonny (January 24, 1984), Rhodes Keyboards Instruments Chroma Computer Interface Model 1611 Rev 5—Sequencer Manual (PDF), CBS Inc.
  21. ^ "External Key Code Interface Circuit", Yamaha CS70M Servicing Manual (PDF), Yamaha Corporation, October 1981, p. 24
  22. ^ "AM MSQ700 Nexus - MIDI Sequencer". Emulator Archive.