Kill your DAW! MIDI sequencing and modular sound software.

Here’s a list I’ve compiled of useful software for making music in an unconventional fashion, and also a collection of useful MIDI applications and plugins.  I’ve left most of the normal stuff out–I am more excited about software that lets me play around with ideas and try new things. Using something different encourages exploration, and helps me discover ideas.  This is leading up to a blog post where I will detail how I use Audiomulch for live performance.  I started listing MIDI plugins and apps that would work well with Audiomulch, and I came up with so many options that I decided to break them up.

There are many ways to make tunes without a daw, or software that was designed with specific process or genres in mind.  I prefer modular software, and software that lets you come up with your own process.  Some of these programs (like audiomulch or bidule) don’t have their own sequencing facilities, and this is why I’ve listed so many VST/AU plugins that are good for midi sequencing.

This is by no means a comprehensive list, this is simply what I know about, what I think is interesting, funny, or useful.  I’ve left some things out because I’m not familiar with them (max/msp, PD, ios and android software.)  If I missed anything awesome, let me know, and i’ll update the post with it.

Hosts, Sequencers, Environments:  Standalone software or host to 3d party plugins:

Five12 Numerology:  Powerful modular step sequencer App/Plugin/Host.  Basically the best ever.

Audiomulch: Modular sound studio.  Also pretty much the best ever.

Sensomusic Usine (supports multi-touch!) Modular sequencing/sound environment

Plogue Bidule: vst/au host with fairly high level patching and interesting FFT/midi capabilities.

Renoise: A tracker that works very well as a sequencer, and has advanced features like scripting, OSC, multi-core support, and more.

Max/MSP, and Pure Data: A digital modular environment. Max/Msp is the commercial version, PD is the bare-bones freeware version:       

Supercollider: A flexible powerful language for coding music, is free on OSX, windows and linux (In my experience it’s really just mac software):

Chuck: Described by it creators as a “Strongly-timed, Concurrent, and On-the-fly music programming language.  Free, OSX, Linux, Windoze.

Iannix: If you want to get your nerd on.  It’s a graphical score editor–uses OSC, which means you could use it with any software that supports it (audiomulch, reaktor, numerology, max/msp, supercollider, etc)

Nodal: generative midi sequencer for windows/osx.

SunVox: A Modular style tracker (remember buzz anyone?) that is maybe the most cross-platform music software I’ve ever seen, and it sounds pretty good!  Available on most mobile devices and OS’s.

Glitch Sequencer: Cellular Automaton sequencer

Cool Sound Toys:

Spongefork:  Cool little live sound app.

Virtual ANS: Software recreation of an early russian optical synthesizer

SPEAR:  A spectral program that could be described as a poor man’s melodyne, but has a completely different approach and is free.  I use this program when I need to analyze the harmonic content of a sound in a more precise way.


VST/AU plugins for sequencing/arpeggiators/midi : good for software like mulch, or bidule, etc, and for getting outside the box in conventional software.

Kirnu Cream: arpeggiator, step sequencer pattern generator chord performer thing

Cthulhu:  Powerful chord generator and arpeggiator plugin

Sugar Bytes Consequence, Thesys, Eloquence:

Hypercyclic: midi arpeggiator

XOXOS MIDI plugins: All kinds of interesting stuff

Stepchild by Subliminal: Drum Sequencing

SonicBytes ERA: Step Sequencer

Audiodamage Axon: Outputs nice algorithmic midi sequences

Reaktor Ensembles for MIDI and sequencing:






Kulu Arp


Reaktor Life and Spiral both come with Reaktor.  Spiral is particularly good and worth a shot.  There is a good arpeggiator called driftwood arpeggiator as well.  There is also an incredible amount of sequenced grooveboxes and synths and weird noisemakers available in the user library.

There are also a number of great drum machines that are plugins, like sonic charge Microtonic, or AudioSpillage Elektroid, FXPansion Guru & Tremor, among others.

Good luck and have fun!


  • Ryan
    November 16, 2013 - 7:21 pm | Permalink

    Nice post :) Yeah, Renoise is pretty brilliant for sequencing hardware. The latency is good, even on slower machines. It feels like a hardware sequencer. Its MIDI clock is more consistent than the other software sequencers I’ve used – you can sync hardware up to it pretty well.

  • Ryan
    November 16, 2013 - 7:22 pm | Permalink

    Where’s ChucK though? ;)

  • Pingback: Golden Master » Reaktor Selections: Noise Toys, Sequencers, Samplers

  • August 10, 2016 - 9:23 pm | Permalink

    Ukladanie kostki brukowej Katowice

  • September 23, 2016 - 11:18 am | Permalink

    Some really good articles on this web site, thank you for contribution. “A man with a new idea is a crank — until the idea succeeds.” by Mark Twain.

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