Modularing ($99) is a collection of software modules forbuilding just about any kind of step-sequencing gadget imaginable.Although you can create step sequencers in other MIDI applications,Modularing is dedicated to this task and offers a broader range ofpossibilities than most. However, this is definitely DIY country,so be prepared.
Multitude of Modules
Each of Modularing's 17 modules is a miniature standaloneapplication that performs a specific step-sequencing function.These applications interact using a proprietary protocol calledmultimedia application glue (MAG). Complete multiapplication setupscalled Studios are launched using Studio Launcher, a software tool.To close all the modules in a Studio, you need to use another toolcalled Studio Closer.
For MIDI communication, Modularing uses the included MidiShareapplication. Although few software developers support MidiShare atthis time, the application can communicate with Open Music System,so Modularing will work with most other MIDI software and theoutside world. (The manufacturer claims that this added layer ofprocessing doesn't add any latency to the timing precision.)Modularing and MidiShare take a little getting used to, but theirinstallation and basic setup is well documented and fairlystraightforward.
Seven of the Modularing modules are sequencers. The program hasa basic, analog-style, 16-step sequencer and a virtual digitalsequencer for playing back step sequences that you can program withincoming MIDI data. It also has two trigger sequencers forsequencing percussion; a matrix sequencer for step-sequencingchords; a MIDI-controller sequencer; and Bulker, which is a SysExsequencer for transmitting set up dumps to the other modules.
The remaining modules are ancillary and provide either support(such as keyboard, mixer, or synchronizer clock) or effectsfunctions (arpeggiation and delay) to the sequencers. The quickestway to get a feel for the operation and interaction of thesemodules is to download some of the examples from the Presetssection of Mil Production's Web site. One of these, called jsbach,is shown on the previous page.
The jsbach Studio plays a 256-step sequence using QuickTimeMusical Instruments. The GM Programmer module handles output toQuickTime as well as GM program selection by name or number for 16MIDI channels. The Synchronizer module provides the clock for thethree step sequencers that make up the remainder of the Studio.When confronted with a new Studio, look for Synchronizer firstbecause it starts playback of all Modularing devices.
The modules at the bottom of the screen perform the sequencing.The Seq Analog ×16 sequencer plays the notes, and the SeqC-Controller sequencer below it shifts the pan back and forthacross the stereo field. The actual note memory resides in thebottom sequencer, Seq Bulker ×16/8. Each step reprograms thenote sequencer with 16 new pitches.
Clearly, Modularing can eat up screen real estate quickly,leaving a confusing stack of overlapping modules. Each module's topright corner has a little button labeled Rack that will transformthe display into a “rack” full of miniature versions ofall the modules. Clicking on the Rack's Rack All button will closeall the individual modules. You can then click on the modules tosee what they do.
Once I became used to the Modularing way of doing things, Ifound it a great deal of fun to play with. I was disappointed thatit didn't include documentation for the individual modules; some ofthem are by no means obvious. On the other hand, by playing aroundwith the examples, I was eventually able to build my own Studioswith relatively few problems. If you're into step sequencing,you'll find you can do a lot more with Modularing than withfixed-configuration step sequencers. Download the 30-day, fullyfunctional demo from Mil Production's Web site, and give it atry.