Your favorite sequencer tool that is beginner friendly?

Hi there

I’m a beginner to VCV rack and ready to jump into this amazing big, complex topic of modular synthesis.

Patch & tweak book lays already on my table.

About the question: I used to make some basic patches with Reaktor blocks and in there is a simple sequencer where you basically can randomize everything like gates, pitch and so on.

I’m looking for a similar “beginner” friendly Sequencer that has some randomisation options so I can let it run on random and then go from there.

Something that is not to complex looking and also in functionality.

Thanks for every helpful input

Cheers

My all time favourite solution is LFO → Quantizer → VCO

It’s as random as crazy your LFO is. In the example below RESET input of the LFO can help you to achieve a repeating melody. Using the FM input of the LFO can take you to some truly exotic and wonderful tunes.

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You can randomise any module with control + R (think it’s that, check with right click on the module).

JW’s grid sequencer is quite handy for this sort of thing as well.

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Thank you so much! this community is great thanks already for those pointers and inspiration!!!

Hi!

I guess that these two from JW are really beginner friendly. You can randomize pitch and gates, and it has a built in quantizer so everything will stay “in tune”. Of course, there’s a lot to explore with them and they are quite deep as well, but still very intuitive and very fitting for beginners.

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one of my favorites and imho very beginner friendly sequencer tools is from Bogaudio the ADDR-SEQ

and the expander for it:

you can many sequences as long as you want,
put any quantizer behind it and it will make some nice sequence,
you can feed it with a clock or a random trigger or … for step variations and do …

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I really like the Count Modula sequential switches and sequencers. It is amazing what you can do with 8 or 16 steps. You can start out simple with a single such sequencer and get more and more complex as you let a sequencer sequence a sequencer that sequences a sequencer…

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and don’t forget the Impromptu phrase seq modules,
here is a patch (using these) I did recently:

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For Rack V 1.1.6 I would root for Aria Salvatrice’s Modulellus Salomonis Regis,(4 steps) Modulus Salomonis Regis (8 steps), and Modulissimus Salomonis Regis (16 steps)

This is the 4-step version:

The jacks above and below each step allow you to increment or decrement (within the range set by Min and Max, beyond which it wraps around) the value of each and any step by 1, 2, 3, or 12 semitones every time (or randomly 1/2 the time) it passes by that step.

Alas, it is unlikely to be ported to V2, as I understand it.

Now I keep going to Geodesics’ IONS.

It’s a little bit steeper learning curve figure out (due partly to the quirky labeling), but then it finally clicks. You can think of it as two independent 8-step sequencers or one 15-step sequencer which can go in a figure-8 pattern. Or not. The only thing it lacks (for me) is a way to change the values of the steps by CV. You can randomize just the step values via the right-click menu. My work-around for automatically randomizing the step values is a saved Selection that uses 15 of Stoermelder’s “µMap” modules, 2 of Mockba Modular’s “SHEight” modules, 1 of Count Modula’s “SWITCH 1-16”, and 1 of VCV’s “RANDOM”. Also a NYSTHI “Graphic Meter” just to see if it’s working as expected. Crude and bulky, but effective.

There’s also their PULSARS module, which is more of a cyclical cross-fading switcher/mixer, 8→1 (top) or 1→8 (bottom).

I’m also beginning to see the appeal of Analog Shift Registers …

… which serve a few sequencer-like purposes.

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I just figured that out a few nights ago. Just closing up the space makes it connect. I was impressed. Also that the range of the STEPS knob immediately changes with it, so you can make it use, say, 37 steps instead of just some multiple of 8.

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The easiest to use for anyone used to sequencing in most DAWs are definitely the Entrian Sequencers like

as they are closest to the way you’d sequence based on a timeline and piano roll etc. Free approximation of the same approach would be Squinky Labs Seq++

Most of the other sequencers are lower level hardware sequencer style which have a learning curve. But, they are the best option for randomisation options, the sequencers above are more ‘traditional’ (in terms of software sequencers).

For running in random I’m a fan of Turing machine style modules like these

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I still use the VCV fundamental one, SEQ-3, and Ive been using rack since 2018! Its just dead easy. The VoxGlitch one is really easy to use too. I’m more into live looping and sound design than sequencing, so I haven’t bothered much with the fancy ones :wink:

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JW Modules’ “NoteSeq” family of modules is fairly easy to get musical-sounding results out of. NoteSeq is about in the middle, in terms of complexity.

Each blue tile is an active step with a V/Oct value. Higher tiles are higher notes. You can randomize them or click on them to activate them. As the double white lines scan across the pattern, the POLY OUT gives quantized polyphonic CVs. And the pattern can be triggered to shift sideways, vertically, or to rotate. You don’t have to use the entire width. I think this image, for instance, shows (by the purple line) that it loops every 28th step.

Not all tiles are necessarily used. If you’ve set the number of channels to be say, 4, then only the bottom-most four active tiles still within the “Lowest Note” and “Highest Note” limits are included.

There’s also …

… and …

… which behave in similar ways.

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@RUFF Just imagine if you asked for a not-so-beginner-friendly sequencer! Or an advanced one! :crazy_face:

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I was thinking the same!

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Haha, my head is already exploding by all those recommendations! But thanks already for all the recommendations and suggestions - appreciate anyones time to write those answers!

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Thanks for everyone for those great recommendations! I looked in some of them but went very simple and just dabbled around with SEQ 3 a little bit and came up with some good sounding Bass lines.

What I miss now is something like a Swing setting? :grinning:

So in Ableton there’s for example this amazing max4live device called MDD Snake which is basically a port from the Make Noise Rene (not sure if the hardware has swing built in, I don’t thing so).

Anyway, is there any hack or so to add swing. Or is the swing named differently on some sequencers (sorry again, I feel like the biggest noob asking those questions even if I have years of experience from production but this feels like asking where the “play” button inside Ableton is :smiley: )

The beauty of this trial and error approach is, that I get to a point where it evolves naturally like I want this sequencer doing longer sequences but it’s not able to do (I guess) or swing and what not…

Thanks a lot

There are a ton of ways to get swing. I think there was a thread about that recently. The Imprompu Clocked that everyone uses makes it pretty easy.

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Use anLFO set to pulse as a clock and modulate the output / pulse width to get adjustable swing.

That was probably this thread - Good Clock Modulators? - #8 by auretvh - on modulating clocks in general, where @auretvh also proposed using an inverted square wave from an LFO and modulating the pulse width. The gimmick being that it’s now the rising edge of the pulse instead of the falling edge that is … uh … swung, yet the period remains the same.

I suppose it would be a trivial thing to have the sequencer do the PWM on a per-step basis if there can be CV output dedicated to just that, such as with the Fundamental SEQ3 module.

Now that I think more on it, there might be a chance for “fence post” errors as to exactly when the pulse is modified. Unless it doesn’t matter.