Cyber Sequencer

What the heck is a music sequencer? Is that how you make beats?

In the music world, a sequencer is the division of bars and measures in a matrix like grid. This grid acts as a place holder and each slot in the grid acts as a trigger or piece of combined triggers that plays sounds when the timeline reaches that part of the sequence.

Confusing as heck eh?

I know it’s hard to explain easily so let’s do it like this. Most beat makers start at a 4/4 with 1/16th quantizing default. This means that for every bar of music, the bar is split up into 4 small pieces, and in each of those 4 pieces, there are 4 slots open to drop sounds into on the grid.

So one bar has room for 16 sounds (4/4 at 1/16th) that are played in ’sequence’ one after the next along a time line. If you filled up all 16 slots you’d simply have a machine gun sounding repetition. If you placed a sound on every fourth slot, you’d get a house music thump (assuming you used a drum sound)…

Now picture one of these ‘bars’ sitting on a stack of 16 layers of bars in an interface where you control each layer and bar, and they all overlap each other.

So each layer has it’s own 16 slots per bar – and each layer has it’s own sounds. One layer can be a kick drum, and the next layer can be a snare or a highhat.

Now imagine if on each of those 16 layers you can open up a separate panel where you get 10 more layers for the bar, this is commonly known as a drum kit, where there are a collection of 10 (or more/less as it ranges per software) sounds that compliment each other well.

This drum kit is one bar, on one layer, but it has 10 layers within it – so in total you have 16 slots going horizontally (1/16th quantizing), and 10 layers going vertically (10 sounds per kit). That gives you a grid of 160 spots to place sounds, and when you arrange them right, and choose a proper tempo, you can achieve pretty much any music you want with the drum kits.

Now picture the 10 drum sounds being OTHER sounds, not drums but voice effects, alarms, samples, quick scratches, beatbox sounds, etc. You can start to see how versatile this grid pattern can be.

Incase that confused you here’s a recap – you have 16 layers in your main interface. On each layer you place a bar, in each bar you have 10 more layers.

The main interface simply acts as a shell for most sequencers, and once you place a bar into any layer, and assign your kit, that’s when you open your drum or instrument panel and start to make your patterns.

So technically, if you filled up all 16 layers with drum kits, you have 160 layers to work with. It would sound like MUD if you did this without being smart with your patterns, however that shows you the possibilities of just the drum kit layers.

Sequencers also utilize keyboard simulation, where instead of having a ‘kit’ with 10 sounds/layers, your ‘bar’ opens up a keyboard panel and this time you have 16 slots, and 4 octaves to work with.

Mathematically this is huge, and the grid turns into 12 x 4 (12 keys per octave, 4 octaves) = 48 keys x 16 (1/16th quantizing = 16 spots per note) = 768 spots on your grid for ONE bar alone. Again this is with the grid going 16 spots horizontally, and 48 spots vertically now with one note scale per each of the 48 ‘layers’.

With sequencers you can usually draw in 2 bars at a time, or 4 or 8 or as many as you want, and when you open the panel the grid will look insane and not be easy to work with.

This is why most producers like to work with 1-2 bar chunks at a time and arrange them in interesting patterns for their chorus/verse/chorus2/verse2/bridge/outro/etc.

So the keyboard, unlike the drum panel, triggers the same sound, and scales it up and down the keys, just like a real synth/piano. If you assign instrument sounds or record your own on a C note and import them, you’ll also be able to manipulate them on a real piano like scale, including sharps and flats.

This also means you can assign DRUM sounds, not KITS, but individual sounds to your keys. So instead of choosing a ‘piano’ category, and scrolling through piano sounds until you find one you like, you scroll through a drum kit (as a category) and pick a drum you want to scale up or down the keyboard. This is how the wicked drops and build ups are done, where you hear the snare go crazy building up and dropping in pitch or climbing in pitch until the main beat drops in, otherwise simply known as a ‘complex fill’.

When you combine both features together:

You get a 16 layer grid and each layer can be a drum track, OR a keyboard track. You can use the drum sounds on the pads OR on the keyboard to change their pitch. And you can assign keyboard instruments/sounds like pianos and saxes to the drum pads as well.

Basically you can interchange the kits between panels, import your own sounds into EITHER part of most aps, and create your own kits out of drums or instruments or voices or scratches or any samples you want!

WICKED!

The only thing left, and basically what makes or breaks most beat makers and sound sequencers – is the default sound kits that come with your audio workstation. While you can get VST’s and you can import your own kits or even buy them, it’s pretty much all the same at the end of the day – you have a grid, you have layer types (drum vs keys) and you have sounds to put in that grid.

If you start with amazing samples, the patterns you create won’t matter as much it will still sound amazing (within reason), and with wack basic flat sound kits it won’t matter what patterns you make or how complex your performances are it will sound flat as heck.

Good kits are well mastered with tweaks and tails and panning so when you combine and overlap a performance of even just a few layers, it sounds beautiful. If you notice, the better beat maker software sequencers usually have amazing default sound libraries.

Having great kits is indeed important, however the sound TYPE is more important. Meaning you must be able to build your patterns and performances AND export them to.WAV first, not.MP3 or anything less than STEREO 44.1.WAV. The same standard studios use when making their beats. From there you have a.wav master and you can convert it into an mp3 or other file type(s). That can all be done with Cyber Sequencer as it is the most powerfull tool today.

Now that you understand how the grid/matrix system works with sound sequencers, imagine each layer being able to do more than one bar, imagine 32 bars (a verse).

Or….

Imagine 64 bars, double timed…

Lost?

Ok example – Most hiphop beats are around 90bpm.

If you can’t change the quantizing from 1/16th (so 16 spots fit in one bar) to 1/32 (so now it’s broken up into 32 note spots), then you can trick the system out by simply making your tempo 180bpm (2 x 90bpm). So your beat will play twice as fast, and you’ll have to build twice as slow (meaning you’d draw TWO bars, and consider it one, and now you have 32 spots to fill).

Sequencing isn’t a toy, or a game, but damn it it keeps you SHARP!

You’re learning math, complex problem solving, tons of tweaks and pattern recognition scenario’s, and most importantly you’re being creative and working your right brain along with your left without even knowing it.

It’s a mix of relaxation type therapy i.e. playing piano at the end of your day, and adding a splash of crossword puzzle like situations – but with sound; that when placed in appropriate code like patterns make BEAUTIFUL music, beats, sound beds, audio-scapes, and more.

You are at it’s core, creating vibration combination patterns (sound), that the human ear/mind/soul respond to in ways that…. well that make you want to dance, vibe, lounge, get naughty, sleep, get tranced out to, rock out, drive faster, etc etc.

Music and vibration is how the planet even started but that’s for another day…

…Once you get good, the beats and pattern making becomes easy, and you simply start to add your emotion and flare with creative sounds. Or import your own to create blissful like soul healing music, or do what most do and start selling them to artists, studios, and whoever needs audio production done right! It’s ‘art meets science’ in a fun environment. Almost like a game but you’re in total control of the stage, the orchestra, and the final cut.

…If you’re never tried one or found the bigger tools too difficult to get a grip of – you should check out the new age online and desktop sequencers out there like drum beat maker – I think you’ll find it much easier to get into, and making your first few beats happens fast. Enjoy!
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701 Responses to “Cyber Sequencer”

  1. Perry says:

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