Understanding sequencers in electronic music

What is sequencing?

Mostly, sequencing is programming a collection of musical instructions and playing them back to making music. It is one of the most common and straightforward methods of elaborating a melody in eighteenth and nineteenth-century classical music. In digital recording, sequencing allows music creators to program a combination of notes, rhythms, articulations, and effects. The audio can be sent to anything from your DAW of choice to hardware synths. Sequencing is also the restatement of a motif or longer melodic (or harmonic) passage at a higher or lower pitch in the same voice. In music, sequencing is the rehashing of a theme or longer melodic (or symphonious) entry at a higher or speak with a softer tone. Sequencing is commonly known as one of the most straightforward strategies for explaining a tune in eighteenth and nineteenth-century classical music. Sequencing is frequently broken up into two segments; most of the time, no more than four and usually go one direction. High and low parts go in the same interval distance. Sequences can also be formed from a melody or harmony. There are several kinds of sequences, and each series has its pattern. In a melody, a sequence includes subsequent segments that connect to the first segment. A tonal sequence, on the other hand, is a sequence which provides for layers that are constructed from a diatonic scale and connects to the first segment. Other forms of sequences include rhythm sequence, modified sequence, false sequence, and modulating sequence, among others.

What is a sequencer?

When it comes to recording audio digitally, a sequencer is an electronic device developed for collecting various types of sequences (chords, musical notes, or rhythms). Those sound sequences can be transferred to and played back on either an electronic musical instrument, a Musical Instrument Digital Interface instrument, or sound module. The primary purpose of sequencing is programming various types of sequences so musicians and producers can play them back. Prime examples of sequencers are the abilities to change the volume levels’, ‘playing a solo guitar’ or ‘altering the bass’. Sequencers give music creators the ability to also create their music by adjusting the mixer settings at any time. Music creators need to familiarize themselves with how mixers work before learning and experimenting with sequencing music. With hardware sequencer, most synthesizers, drum machines, and music workstations have their sequencers.

What is a hardware and software sequencer?

Hardware sequencer includes various types of different sequencers such as electro-mechanical sequencers, step sequencers, and digital sequencers, to name a few. Electro-mechanical sequencers include rhythmic patterns generated by rotating disk switches, stepping relays, and tone generators. Software sequencer is digital multitrack software which may consist of MIDI step sequencers is available as a standalone application or an audio plug-in format.

A closeup photograph of the controls of a MIDI synthesizer. This picture shows the power, mode, volume, and sequencer options of the synthesizer.
A closeup photograph of the controls of a MIDI synthesizer. This picture shows the power, mode, volume, and sequencer options of the synthesizer.

What is a step sequencer?

A step sequencer simply sequences steps in a beat. The step sequencer is much easier to use for drums than PRV audio. Step sequencer allows music creators to set any number of steps in each beat and individually include drum names to that beat. It also gives them the ability to easily change velocity, along with setting swing, portamento, and other fx as well. Most creators use step sequencer entirely for creating drum patterns. Here is how to step sequencer works; the step sequencer is usually closed between first clips from each synth. Then the step sequencer will pick up the session drummer’s names correctly without a drum map. If the step sequencer is not closed between first clips from each synth, drum maps will keep the instrument names as it is.

What is a “DAW”?

A Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) is a digitalized structure created with the purpose of both recording and editing audio digitally. DAW is often referred to as either audio hardware, audio software, or both. Between the 70s and 90s, developed DAWs were hardware units that featured a mixture of consoles, a converter (analog to digital), and data storage device. DAWs are commonly used for recording, editing, mixing and playing back digital audio. Integrated DAWs are devices that are still being developed and used today. However, Integrated DAWs are being replaced by more computer software that includes digital software. In most professional recording studios, there may be one or a couple of large mixing boards connected to a computer. With computers replacing most integrated DAWs, audio editing and post-production are performed primarily with software rather than hardware.

Digital Audio Worksation (DAW) used with MIDI Keyboard and MIDI Controller
Digital Audio Worksation (DAW) used with MIDI Keyboard and MIDI Controller

What is MIDI?

MIDI is an acronym that stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface, and it is a system created for recording and playing back music on digital synthesizers. MIDIs are supported on most personal computer sound cards. In the early 80s, MIDI started as a standard for allowing communication between modular analog synthesizers. The MIDI standard was completed in 1983 by a consortium of musical equipment manufacturers which includes Korg, Oberheim, Roland, Sequential Circuits, and Yamaha. Products featuring the standard, such as the famous Yamaha DX7, were available on the market soon after. MIDIs have initially been designed with the intention of control a single keyboard from another. Soon, MIDI was quickly created to work on someone’s personal computer. MIDI is best used for connecting various devices that develop and control sounds (synthesizers, samplers, and workstations). Sounds, software, and hardware communicate with each other, using MIDI messages. MIDI can allow one keyboard trigger sounds on another synthesizer. Then will enable it to record audio and transferring it to editing, flexible orchestration, and song arrangement.

What is a MIDI Sequencer?

The MIDI sequencer allows creators to record and edit digital audio without using an audio-based input source. That audio is then recorded as a series of events that would ordinarily be played in from a keyboard instrument. MIDI Sequencer can be implemented as hardware and software and became recognized in the 80s. The creation of MIDI soon became broadly useful for personal computers to serve its purpose as sequencers. After MIDI was widely recognized and used, PC based were soon MIDI sequencers created. Later, converts were developed to link MIDI to a CV which allows synthesizers to be constrained by a MIDI sequencer. To this day, MIDI is still a household name and product that remains a standard in the music industry.

MIDI Keyboard
MIDI Keyboard


  1. https://www.practical-music-production.com/music-sequencer/
  2. https://www.musicsequencing.com/
  3. https://whatis.techtarget.com/

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