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

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

Punched paper


Oramics (1957) controls sounds by graphics on films Film on Oramics moves in this direction.jpg
Oramics (1957) controls sounds by graphics on films

Electro-mechanical sequencers

Wurlitzer Sideman (1959) Wurlitzer Sideman drum machine (inside) front view.jpg
Wurlitzer Sideman (1959)

Analog sequencers

Analog sequencers with CV/Gate interface

Moog 960 Sequential Controller and 962 Sequential Switch Moog 960 Sequential Controller + 962 Sequential Switch.png
Moog 960 Sequential Controller and 962 Sequential Switch

Analog-style step sequencers

Analog-style MIDI step sequencers

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

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)

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.

Embedded self-contained step sequencers

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

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

Embedded MIDI step sequencers

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

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.

Tenori-on Tenori-on.jpg

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


Also often support Gate clock and DIN sync interfaces.

Proprietary digital interfaces (pre MIDI era)

Hardware MIDI sequencers

Standalone MIDI sequencers
MIDI phrase sequencers
Embedded MIDI sequencers
Sequential Circuits Six-Trak has embedded realtime MIDI sequencer. Sequential Circuits Six-Trak front.png
Sequential Circuits Six-Trak has embedded realtime MIDI sequencer.
MIDI sequencers with embedded sound module
  • Yamaha TQ5 desktop version of EOS YS200 FM workstation
Palmtop MIDI sequencers
Yamaha QY70 YamahaQY70.jpg
Yamaha QY70
Accompaniment machines
BOSS Dr.Rhythm Section DR-5 (clip).jpg
Boss DR-5
Yamaha QR10 Musical Accompaniment Player (jpg).jpg
Yamaha QR10

Open-source hardware

  • MIDIbox Sequencer modules Analog-style MIDI step sequencer/MIDI effect processor modules of MIDIbox project
  • oTTo Sampler, Sequencer, Multi-engine synth and effects - in a box.

Software sequencers and DAWs with sequencing features

Free, open source


DAW with MIDI sequencers

Drum machines


Software MIDI sequencers

Loop-oriented DAWs with MIDI sequencers

Tracker-oriented DAWs with MIDI sequencers

DAWs with MIDI sequencers

Integrated software studio environments

See also

Related Research Articles

Digital synthesizer Synthesizer that uses digital signal processing to make sounds

A digital synthesizer is a synthesizer that uses digital signal processing (DSP) techniques to make musical sounds. This in contrast to older analog synthesizers, which produce music using analog electronics, and samplers, which play back digital recordings of acoustic, electric, or electronic instruments. Some digital synthesizers emulate analog synthesizers; others include sampling capability in addition to digital synthesis.

Electronic musical instrument Musical instrument that uses electronic circuits to generate sound

An electronic musical instrument or electrophone is a musical instrument that produces sound using electronic circuitry. Such an instrument sounds by outputting an electrical, electronic or digital audio signal that ultimately is plugged into a power amplifier which drives a loudspeaker, creating the sound heard by the performer and listener.

MIDI Means of connecting electronic musical instruments

MIDI is a technical standard that describes a communications protocol, digital interface, and electrical connectors that connect a wide variety of electronic musical instruments, computers, and related audio devices for playing, editing and recording music. The specification originates in a paper titled Universal Synthesizer Interface, published by Dave Smith and Chet Wood, then of Sequential Circuits, at the October 1981 Audio Engineering Society conference in New York City.

Music technology (electronic and digital)

Digital music technology encompasses digital instruments, computers, electronic effects units, software, or digital audio equipment by a performer, composer, sound engineer, DJ, or record producer to produce, perform or record music. The term refers to electronic devices, instruments, computer hardware, and software used in performance, playback, recording, composition, mixing, analysis, and editing of music.

A music sequencer is a device or application software that can record, edit, or play back music, by handling note and performance information in several forms, typically CV/Gate, MIDI, or Open Sound Control (OSC), and possibly audio and automation data for DAWs and plug-ins.

Analog synthesizer Synthesizer that uses analog circuits and analog computer techniques to generate sound electronically

An analogsynthesizer is a synthesizer that uses analog circuits and analog signals to generate sound electronically.

A software synthesizer or softsynth is a computer program or that generates digital audio, usually for music. Computer software that can create sounds or music is not new, but advances in processing speed now allow softsynths to accomplish the same tasks that previously required the dedicated hardware of a conventional synthesizer. Softsynths may be readily interfaced with other music software such as music sequencers typically in the context of a digital audio workstation. Softsynths are usually less expensive and can be more portable than dedicated hardware.

Modular synthesizers are synthesizers composed of separate modules of different functions. The modules can be connected together by the user to create a patch. The outputs from the modules may include audio signals, analog control voltages, or digital signals for logic or timing conditions. Typical modules are voltage-controlled oscillators, voltage-controlled filters, voltage-controlled amplifiers and envelope generators.

A music workstation is an electronic musical instrument providing the facilities of:


CV/gate is an analog method of controlling synthesizers, drum machines and other similar equipment with external sequencers. The control voltage typically controls pitch and the gate signal controls note on-off.

Sequential is an American synthesizer company founded in 1974 as Sequential Circuits by Dave Smith. In 1978, Sequential released the Prophet-5, the first programmable polyphonic synthesizer, used by artists including Michael Jackson, Madonna, and John Carpenter. In the 1980s, Sequential was pivotal to the development of MIDI, a technical standard for connecting electronic instruments.

Yamaha QY10

The Yamaha QY10 is a hand-held music workstation produced by the Yamaha Corporation in the early 1990s. Possessing a MIDI sequencer, a tone generator and a tiny single-octave keyboard, the portable and battery-powered QY10 enables a musician to compose music while traveling.

MIDI controller

A MIDI controller is any hardware or software that generates and transmits Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) data to MIDI-enabled devices, typically to trigger sounds and control parameters of an electronic music performance.

Sound module Externally controlled electronic musical instrument

A sound module is an electronic musical instrument without a human-playable interface such as a piano-style musical keyboard. Sound modules have to be operated using an externally connected device, which is often a MIDI controller, of which the most common type is the musical keyboard. Controllers are devices that provide the human-playable interface and which may or may not produce sounds of their own. Another common way of controlling a sound module is through a sequencer, which is computer hardware or software designed to record and playback control information for sound-generating hardware. Connections between sound modules, controllers, and sequencers are generally made with MIDI, which is a standardized protocol designed for this purpose, which includes special ports (jacks) and cables.

Buchla Electronic Musical Instruments

Buchla Electronic Musical Instruments (BEMI) was a manufacturer of synthesizers and unique MIDI controllers. The origins of the company could be found in Buchla & Associates, created in 1963 by synthesizer pioneer Don Buchla of Berkeley, California. In 2012 the original company led by Don Buchla was acquired by a group of Australian investors trading as Audio Supermarket Pty. Ltd. The company was renamed Buchla Electronic Musical Instruments as part of the acquisition. In 2018 the assets of BEMI were acquired by a new entity, Buchla U.S.A., and the company continues under new ownership.

Arturia is a French electronics company founded in 1999 and based in Grenoble, France. The company designs and manufactures electronic musical instruments, including software synthesizers, drum machines, analog synthesizers, MIDI controllers, sequencers, and mobile apps.

Don Buchla Musical artist

Donald Buchla was an American pioneer in the field of sound synthesis. Buchla popularized the "West Coast" style of synthesis. He was co-inventor of the voltage controlled modular synthesizer along with Robert Moog, the two working independently in the early 1960s.

Doepfer A-100 Modular synthesizer, introduced the Eurorack standard

The Doepfer A-100 is an analog modular synthesizer system introduced by German audio manufacturer Doepfer in 1995. Although it only had 10 modules at time of release, it currently has more than 120 modules plus several different enclosures and accessories.

Synthesizer Electronic musical instrument

A synthesizer is an electronic musical instrument that generates audio signals. Synthesizers generate audio through methods including subtractive synthesis, additive synthesis, and frequency modulation synthesis. These sounds may be shaped and modulated by components such as filters, envelopes, and low-frequency oscillators. Synthesizers are typically played with keyboards or controlled by sequencers, software, or other instruments, often via MIDI.

Analog sequencer

An analog sequencer is a music sequencer constructed from analog (analogue) electronics, invented in the first half of the 20th century.


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  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. 157 160 from Holmes 2008)
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  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.
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  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".×8-step sequencer module
  10. "Moog 961 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". 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"". 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.
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  20. Williams, Tonny (January 24, 1984), Rhodes Keyboards Instruments Chroma Computer Interface Model 1611 Rev 5Sequencer Manual (PDF), CBS Inc.
  21. "External Key Code Interface Circuit", Yamaha CS70M Servicing Manual (PDF), Yamaha Corporation, October 1981, p. 24, archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-04-21, retrieved 2016-09-18
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