Catena Sequencer


Inspired by the Roland M-185 Sequencer, this Max for Live midi device allows you to create intricate sequences quickly and easily. Use it to trigger VST’s inside Ableton as well as external instruments like desktop and eurorack synths.


Stages, not Steps
Unlike the more standard 8-step sequencer, this device uses 8 stages. Each stage can be anywhere from 1 to 8 steps in length. You can turn on or off each step within a stage allowing for complex sequences and rhythms.The combination of stages and steps is a unique way to create rhythmically complex sequences up to 64 steps long.

Quickly Edit a Complex Sequence
There are plenty of sequencers that allow for up to 64 steps, sometimes more. What sets this sequencer apart is the ease in which you can edit the sequence. Rather than scrolling through menus, the Pitch, Count and Mode controls allow you to edit your sequence on the fly. Much like the original modular synth design of the M-185, you can adjust parameters to create endlessly evolving sequences.

The device is broken into 4 main sections: Clock, Pitch, Count and Mode.

The clock allows you to sync the tempo of the sequencer to your Ableton project. Individually selectable subdivisions make it easy to multiply or divide the tempo in time with Ableton.

Use the “Stages” knob to adjust how many stages are active. The “Duration” knob controls how long each note is held. If the clock is set to 1/4 and Duration is 0.50, each note will play for 50% of each quarter note.

The “Note Frequency Range” control allows you to fine tune the note range of the Pitch section. While holding the command key (or, ctrl on PC) you can slide the range up or down. Extend the range by holding shift while clicking.

Control the frequency or pitch of each stage by moving the slider left or right. Slide to the right for higher pitches, to the left for lower pitches. Use the “Note Frequency Range” mentioned above to fine tune the frequency range.

This section sets how many steps will trigger in each stage. For example, a count of “1” will trigger a single step. A count of “3” will trigger 3 steps for that stage.

The Mode section determines when each step will trigger a note. There are 8 settings to choose from to create intricate phrases and sequences.

Mode Description
off All notes off; no gates sent
1st Gate sent on only the 1st count
all Gate sent on all counts
2nd Gate sent on every 2nd count
3rd Gate sent on every 3rd count
4th Gate sent on every 4th count
? Gate sent randomly for each count
hold Gate sent on 1st count and held for the remaining counts

Here’s another way to think of the setting within the Mode section.

Licensed under the Creative Commons, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.


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