Gajits Sequencer One & Hitkit
Gajits' budget sequencer moves over to the Amiga and is joined by the company's new Hit Kit software. Ian Waugh plays along.
IT SOUNDS LIKE a story from Boys Own, but it's actually the latest episode in a serial by the boys at Gajits.
Sequencer One, you may recall, is a rather nifty budget-priced sequencer for the ST. (If you can't, check out the review in MT March '90.) As of now, it's been updated and ported.
The current ST version is 1.06. The updates are basically enhancements - for example, Block operations can now be carried out with the mouse in the step editor screen and there's a full implementation of MIDI Song Pointers (the program responds to them during recording when in external sync mode).
Also, you can drop into Record mode from Play mode and the song timer is tied to the Song Position counter, so it shows the absolute time elapsed since the start of the song. The Mode Messages box is used for selecting which MIDI messages are transmitted when Stop is pressed, and Sequencer One can now send note offs for all keys.
All this may be good news for ST owners but Amiga owners will be thrilled by the knowledge that Sequencer One has been ported to their machine. The latest manual doubles for both ST and Amiga versions - this seems reasonable, as both programs are functionally nigh on identical. It's a better, more glossy and professional production than the first manual.
The Amiga version comes with an additional Supplement, as the Amiga version supports the computer's internal sounds and lets you control the memory allocation for MIDI events. This allows Sequencer One to share memory with other programs, a facility only possible on the ST within an environment such as M.ROS, Softlink or Dr T's MPE.
To play Amiga IF files, you load them into the program using the Sample Palette option in the File menu. This can hold up to 128 samples - memory permitting, of course - each of which is assigned a number which corresponds to a MIDI program change number. The contents of the Sample Palette is saved with the Save Setup option so you can boot up with a preferred list of samples in memory.
To make a track play a sample, give it the program number assigned to the sample and change its MIDI channel number to L, R, LR or RL. This sends the sample out of the left or right audio outputs. The LR setting will attempt to play the sample on the left channel but will play it on the right if the left is already playing two samples. The Amiga can only play four samples at once (two on the left and two on the right) so you must remember this when creating your music. Samples respond to MIDI velocity and you can set the volume levels in the track info box. Four sample activity meters to the right of the MIDI activity meters monitor the sample output. Finally, an internal sample can be used to provide the metronome sound.
To accompany the launch - and for a limited period only - Gajits are packaging the Hit Kit with the Amiga version of Sequencer One, free.
The Hit Kit is a collection of musical building blocks which you can use to help construct your own songs. Each block has two characteristics - Style and Type. Style is the musical style and includes ballad, blues, disco, house, latin, reggae and techno. Type is the typical use to which the pattern would be put and includes bass, chords, drum, middle, filling and top.
The drums use Roland's MT32 drum map but you have to assign the other parts to suitable MIDI channels and sounds. There are 82 drum patterns and 124 phrases. That's quite a lot to wade through, so Gajits have created seven eight-bar loops containing combinations of the patterns so you can hear what they sound like together. And before you ask, the answer's pretty good. They contain alternate lines so you can try various combinations by muting the tracks.
Now, I know the idea isn't for you to use these loops to produce your own songs - but you could. It's nowhere near as "dishonest" as nicking samples, and at least these are offered with implicit consent for their use. If you haven't yet honed your arranging skills sufficiently, they could be very useful, helpful and educational, too. Incidentally, the manual is supplied on disk. You can print it out or run it as a DA.
If this sort of lego song construction set appeals to you, know that the Hit Kit will soon be available in formats for Cubase, Cubeat, Pro24/12, Notator, Notator Alpha and Creator. Know also that owners of Sequencer One get a £5 discount. With the growing popularity of MIDI song files, this could be the next craze... And watch out for the Hit Kit Vol 2.
For a budget program, Sequencer One on the ST still takes some beating. I can't think of anything on the Amiga which comes remotely close for the price.
Prices Sequencer One, £89.99; Hit Kit, £30.
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Review by Ian Waugh