Most of the sequencers listed below are available for free. Many of them were released quite some time back, but a look at the interfaces of these different sequencers gives us a good idea of what the common interest of the users and hence the developers are, when it comes to sequencer use and interfaces. (If you wanted to try just one sequencer, Reaper is a very good choice – they have a very reasonable and fair licensing method. More about Reaper below.)
Starting with the audio editors. Below are two audio editor window views. All good sequencer softwares have an inbuilt audio editing window too, along with many detailed options to edit wav files with precision.
Wavosaur is an independent audio editor software. It can record, edit and process sounds.
Audio editing views in Nuendo
Double clicking on any image that represents a piece of wav, opens up an editor like the one in the image below.
Zoom it horizontally (bottom right slider in the window) starts expanding each 'cloud' in the above picture as shown below,
which with further zoom appears as shown below,
and finally zooms to show the borders of the wav representation as lines as shown below. You can imagine the kind of precision this kind of zoom brings into the audio editing process.
The Arranger Window and Mixer View
The arranger window shows all the tracks stacked one over the other, played back at the same time, sounding the information that each track has at the point where the cursor passes through at that moment.
Mixer view shows us the faders for each track, and the master fader or any other buss faders we may have in the mix.
The arranger window and mixer view are two elements common to sequencers. Below are a few sequencers showing their arranger and mixer views.
Below are a few examples of sequencers, showing their arranger view and mixers. We notice how similar they all look, and how the interfaces are made for arranging and mixing tasks.
Below image from SEQ24 shows the basic idea of an arranger window – multiple tracks that can be played back at the same time.
Below we see the mixer view for Cubase, Reaper and Kristal. They all look very similar to the mixer view of SEQ24, above.
At the bottom of each of the following images, there is the group of level faders – another common factor for sequencers and sequencer interfaces.
The midi editor window
Again, from SEQ24, the following image shows the basic idea of a midi editor. Note indicators on the left side, vertical. Lines showing midi notes, their lengths showing the duration of the note, velocity bars (vertical lines at the bottom) that indicate the loudness of the midi note.
Nuendo / Cubase Midi Editing
Below are three views for midi editing options in Nuendo (similar for Cubase).
The midi channel with midi information looks in the main arranger window as shown below.
Below is how the midi channel looks like when you double click on the track, and midi gets an independent window to edit.
The vertical red bars towards the bottom of the image in the top is the 'velocity' of the midi note – how loud each note will sound.
Zoom the above window vertically and when each rectangle is tall enough to show alphabets, you get to see the exact notes that each rectangle of midi represents. This is a useful feature to arrange the midi information with our knowledge of music theory, just like we would with music notation.
Reaper midi window
Double clicking on a midi track opens up the below window. The midi notes are shown as rectangles, with the horizontal length of the note representing the duration of each note.
As mentioned in the case of Nuendo, above, we see the vertical velocity bars towards the bottom in the Reaper midi image shown above also.
Reaper gives us options to let midi notes be represented by diamonds or triangles, as shown below, which is a choice when we are dealing with drum or percussion midi programming.
If you want to try just one sequencer, Reaper is a very good and almost free one; 'almost' because there is a very reasonable and friendly license involved. Cockos, who makes Reaper, allows us to download and use the complete, uncrippled version for 60 days, and shows a license remainder after the 60 days.
Reaper does not cripple the software even after the 60 days, since as they say, they don't believe in technological restrictions as a means to income. At $60, and with the fair attitude, they are sure to get consenting and willing payments for license from a lot of Reaper users. Reaper is a serious software sequencer.
Even if you are not using Reaper, you can get their full suite of VST plugin effects for free as Reaplugs download. (Variety of Sound is another site famous for developing excellent free VST plugin effects).
Choose one, try, start recording… We all need to just start somewhere to produce the music that we hear inside. Interestingly, the more we understand the process of arranging and using the tools, the music inside gets better too.