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Xequence is an advanced, linear MIDI sequencer and controller for iPhone & iPad. It can be used to record, edit and arrange notes and controller movements, both using other apps that support Virtual MIDI / CoreMIDI (in effect, all of them), or external MIDI hardware like synthesizers, control surfaces etc.
It can also sync with other apps and devices using Ableton Link and can act as a MIDI Sync master, so that other apps or hardware can slave to Xequence, meaning that they run in perfect sync with it (they start when you press play in Xequence, they stop when you press stop, they move their song position if you move it in Xequence, etc.).
This guide only gives you an overview over important concepts and features in the app so that you can use it effectively and to its full potential. It does not document all available features.
For the rest, Xequence contains extensive in-app "hints" that pop up whenever you touch a button or area for the first time.
The following diagram gives you an overview about how MIDI routing between MIDI Input apps / controllers, tracks, instruments, and MIDI-capable instrument apps / hardware works.
An instrument in Xequence represents a connection to something that actually produces sound, i.e. a synthesizer app like Poison-202, Animoog, Gadget. It can also control external MIDI synths or slave an external DAW to Xequence's clock.
Any time you want to add a new sound (timbre) to your project, you would create a new instrument.
Instruments have the following main settings:
Here you can select the app (or MIDI output) whose sounds you want to use for this instrument. This is saved with the project and when you reload it, all connections will automatically be remade, either at load or when the corresponding app is launched.
For multi-timbral synths (apps or hardware that can produce multiple different sounds at once), each sound is assigned one of 16 channels. Select the same channel in your synth and in this menu. If you only use one sound in the synth app or it doesn't support multiple sounds, just leave both at 1 or set the synth to Omni.
Another use case for channels is AUv3 hosts like AUM: As AUM only appears as a single app in Xequence, but can host multiple instruments, you would use channels to separately connect to them: In AUM, enable the "AUM Destination" MIDI Source for the plugin, and in "Channel Filter", enable just one of the channels, for example, 3. Then in Xequence, select AUM as the MIDI destination, and channel 3. This way, you can host up to 16 separate instruments in AUM and create corresponding instruments in Xequence.
Turn this on if (and only if) you want the timeline of an external DAW (for example, BeatMaker 2 — this is most useful if you want to use audio tracks in your project) or an external pattern sequencer / drum machine (for example, Ruismaker) to run in sync with Xequence.
Xequence sends the following sync information:
Note that if you want an external app to sync to Xequence, you have to create a "dummy" instrument for it (with the "Send Sync" option enabled) even if you do not use any of its sounds (if you do use some of its sounds, just turn "Send Sync" on in one of the instruments. Sync is not channelized, so if you use the same app for several instruments on different channels, if you turn on "Send Sync" for one of them, it will turn on for all of them.)
There are two modes:
Each instrument can have up to 3 controllers, also known as CCs (up to 12 via In-App Purchase). These can be used to modulate parameters like filter cutoff, pitch, etc. in apps or synths that support it (i.e., nearly all).
To switch to the next page of controllers, tap on the right arrow button.
As you will probably only use a very small subset of all available CCs for each instrument, you can set them up once here, and only those will be shown in the Keyboard and Controller editor views, so you don't have to scroll through a mile long list of all controllers (more than 100) each time. The little "Keyboard" button decides if the corresponding controller will be available on the Keyboard screen when tapping the "CC" button there.
Many apps use the same controllers for similar things (e.g., CC 74 for "Filter cutoff"), so we have included a selection of "standard" controllers in the menu which work with many apps. However, please check in your corresponding app or synth what CCs it uses for what parameter.
If the CC you want to control from Xequence is not included in the menu (say, you use a drum synth which uses CC 88 for the "Pan" knob of the HiHat), you can tap the "#" button and enter the controller number (in this case, 88) manually.
Each controller has further options:
In Xequence, "colors belong to instruments", i.e., you can assign a color to each instrument, and that color will then be used for all user interface elements (tracks, pianoroll notes, keyboard keys, etc.) that affect that instrument.
For example, if you create an instrument for your bassline synth, and assign it the color "Blue":
This always gives you a sense of context.
The Arranger uses tracks to separate the parts (some call them clips or patterns) for the different instruments.
For each instrument you create, you need at least one track to contain the parts that have the notes and controllers that make up the song.
You can also create multiple tracks for the same instrument. This is very useful if you want to record both notes and controllers, as this way, you can keep them neatly separated: create one track for the notes, then create another track below it (the "+" button) for the first controller, another one for the second, etc.
Note: You can record both notes and controllers on the same track into the same parts and then switch between them in the Pianoroll / Controller editor, but this is not recommended as it is much easier to work with separate tracks.
The "M" button mutes a track, i.e., its events won't be played back anymore. If the "S" button is active on one or more tracks, those tracks are soloed: only events on those tracks will be played back.
We designed the Arranger so that you can only scroll vertically by swiping in the editor area on the right, not on the tracklist. This is on purpose: We wanted the "M" and "S" buttons to react instantly when tapped, however, in order to detect if a touch is meant to be a swipe (scroll) or a tap, Xequence would first have to wait until the finger is lifted or moved.
The editing area to the right of the tracklist contains your arrangement, i.e. all the parts (also called patterns or clips) that make up the complete song. It is played from left to right.
There are two modes for selecting parts, using either tap or rectangle selection:
Any number of program changes (instruction to another synth which preset to use) can be inserted per track.
To insert a program change:
To change the number of an already existing program change, just double-tap it as you would a regular part, or with the program change selected, tap the bottom-right "Edit" button.
Program changes use backtracing just like controllers, i.e. when the song position changes, Xequence automatically searches for the nearest previous program change and sends it to the instrument.
Xequence offers a configurable, scale-aware keyboard with over 70 included scales selectable from almost a dozen categories (a chromatic scale (all notes) and "normal" mode with black keys are also included). It can be either single or dual and can be "velocity sensitive" (tap a key's bottom for full velocity, or the top for nearly no velocity). Two velocity curves are available on the Settings screen. The key size is freely adjustable using the "Width" slider.
The keyboard always controls the instrument of the currently selected Arranger track, or, if launched while in the Pianoroll / Controller editor, the instrument of the track whose part is being edited.
In music theory, scales are selections of notes that work well together and give off a certain "mood".
A full octave contains 12 semitones. Most scales, like the Major or Minor scales, contain only 7 of those, which work well together. There's also scales with less notes, like the Pentatonic scales, which contain only 5 notes.
There's 2 special options in the Scales menu:
Xequence has sophisticated support for fully customizable drum pads and editing. You can try all editing features for free; however, to actually play the drum pads, a one-time In-App Purchase is required. Please see the dedicated "Drum Maps" chapter for more details.
Alternatively, if you would like to use and edit drums without drum maps, use the Chromatic scale, as it contains all notes and you're guaranteed not to "miss" any drum sounds your destination instrument / app might play on some note.
Two toggles in the bottom toolbar of the keyboard screen control the scrolling / gliding behavior of the keys:
All controllers of the current instrument that have the "Keyboard" toggle enabled can be shown to the left by tapping the "CC" button.
On iPad, you can choose to either display them vertically stacked (uses less screen space and you can "twitch" them more easily), or next to each other (the "|||" button). Choose whichever mode is more usable in your situation. This setting is saved per instrument.
To move a controller, just touch it and then slide up or down (it will start from the current value, not the value where you first touched it). You can reset a controller to zero by double-tapping it. Controllers that have the "Return" option enabled will return to zero once you lift your finger.
Xequence offers an unrivaled palette of advanced ways to use controllers while playing live, outlined below.
All controllers can also be moved by rotating your device. Enable this option by tapping on the menu button above the slider, and then tap the "Landscape Phone" icon.
The first controller will be moved by rotating your device towards or away from you. If you enable Motion Control for more than one controller, the next axis that will be used is the "around the device itself" axis, and the next one would be the "tilt the device around its vertical center line" (if that makes any sense!).
A controller can also act like a button and thus be "played" like a keyboard key. Enable this mode by tapping the menu button above the slider, and then the "Pulse" icon.
In this mode, when tapping the slider anywhere, the controller will immediately jump to the value at that position (for example, if you tap it right at the top, it will jump to 127), and when you release your finger, it will jump back to the position it was at before activating Gate mode.
There's at least two use cases for this mode:
Note that when recording in this mode, controller data is quantized according to the "Q" setting at the top (including the "Ends" toggle there), just like keyboard keys. Of course, you can turn "Q" to "Off" if you do not want quantization in this mode.
In this mode, touching a key will set the corresponding controller depending on the vertical position where you touched the key (or keys). This is done before playing the actual note, so the target synth has time to adjust the controller's value before playing the sound. This mode is very useful for synths that do not support mapping velocity to controllers, etc.
In this mode, the controller can be moved by sliding your finger up and down on a key (or keys) after touching the key.
This mode combines the previously mentioned two modes.
Currently, if you record controller movements live, existing controller data on the track / in parts is not automatically erased, but only new events are added instead. So, if you want to "overwrite" controller data you recorded previously, it is best to delete the corresponding parts (or events, if you record into the Controller Editor) first.
We plan to add a "Replace" recording mode in the future, which will automatically erase existing controller data as soon as you touch the controller slider or enable motion control.
Xequence automatically finds the nearest previous controller event in the part that is at the current song position, and uses that for displaying the slider and also sends it via MIDI. So, no matter what, when you set the song position, you will always get correct controller values (event chasing only works inside parts for now, so if there is no part at the current song position, the controller value won't change.).
Xequence has a sophisticated drum map and editing system:
To switch into drums mode, select a track with an instrument that is assigned to a drum synth, go to the Keyboard screen, tap the keyboard selector button in the lower left corner (it will either show a single or dual keyboard icon), and in the dropdown menu, select the top option (drum map icon).
Xequence will load the "General MIDI" map by default, which contains the 47 standard GM drums including their names and notes.
You can configure any map layout from 1x1 (a single large drum pad) to 8x8 (64 pads) and anything in between by tapping the number buttons on the right hand side of the bottom toolbar.
When you resize a map that already has drum pads assigned and the new map size is smaller than the previous one, Xequence will try to keep the visual layout and shrink the map size horizontally so that the existing pads stay centered, and vertically so that bottom pads stay at the bottom.
If this is not possible, there can be two scenarios: If in theory, the existing pads would be able to fit the new size (say, you have 35 drum pads and you select 6x6), but not with the current visual layout, then Xequence will offer you to automatically compact the map so that all drum pads still exist, but without their previous layout. Otherwise, say if you have 30 pads assigned, but the new map size is 3x3, then Xequence will ask to discard those drum pads that cannot fit in the new size.
If you select a larger size, then existing pads will stay centered at the bottom, and new grid cells will be added at the top and/or to the left/right.
To start editing a map, activate Edit mode by tapping the "Edit" toggle at the bottom.
You can then:
This menu offers various features that affect the entire drum map:
Xequence comes with a selection of preset drum maps that have the corresponding notes, labels and layout for various popular drum machines or synths (this will be enhanced in future updates).
Tap the "Maps" button in the lower left corner to choose a preset.
You can also save your own presets, which will be available in all Xequence projects. Just take an existing drum map, edit it as desired, and then tap "Save" in the Maps menu (you will be prompted for a name). You can also delete saved maps, and filter the list of maps.
To rename a map, just "Save" it under a new name, and then delete the old map.
Drum maps are stored in Xequence's Documents folder as ".xeqdrums" files. These can easily be copied between your various devices using the iOS Files app or iTunes File Sharing and will be automatically detected and added to the "Maps" menu by Xequence.
Double-tap a part to open up the Pianoroll editor.
This editor lets you draw or edit notes (move, change lengths, transpose, etc.), their velocities (loudness), and controllers (CCs). Selecting and navigating around the view works the same as in the Arranger.
When you're done editing, just tap the checkmark button at the bottom right to exit the editor.
The editing grid can be changed by tapping on the button with the grid icon in the bottom toolbar. When moving notes or changing their length, movement will be constrained to this grid (for example, if it is set to "16", notes will move by 16th notes, and the length of notes will change in increments of 16th notes).
The "Rel" (relative) toggle changes how notes snap to the grid: normally, Xequence will make sure that all notes always stay on the selected grid no matter what. However, in "Rel" mode, notes will actually move in grid size increments, but not necessarily snap to the grid. So, for example, if you have a note that starts one 16th note away from the beginning of the part, and you have the grid set to "4", if you now move the note one increment to the right, it will actually end up one quarter note plus one 16th note from the beginning, not one quarter note.
Tap the "note" button at the bottom left. A menu will pop up that shows all data types that can be edited:
When editing a part, only those notes (and "mini keyboard" keys) which are part of the instrument's scale are shown (for drum instruments, the equivalent applies). If you switch to another scale / drum map after already having recorded or drawn notes and the new scale / map doesn't contain all of the pitches of the existing notes, a warning dialog ("Wrong scale") will pop up, offering you to disable the scale (or you can switch to a different scale that does contain all used pitches).
You can of course use different keys or scales throughout the song, as the scale and key are merely an "input mode" in the keyboard screen. However, you may encounter the aforementioned "Wrong scale" warning when opening the Pianoroll editor and some of the pitches in the edited part are not contained in the scale that is currently selected in the instrument (the scale selected in the keyboard screen is remembered per instrument).
To avoid having to switch scales and keys all the time for editing, you can just create one instrument per scale / key, and set each of them to the same MIDI destination and channel, but choose different scales / keys in the keyboard screen. For each scale / key you want to use throughout the song, also create a track and assign it to the matching instrument, and then just make sure to use the correct track for each scale / key. You can also name the instruments or tracks accordingly (for example, "Bass E Maj" and "Bass D Maj") so that you see at a glance which track to use for recording.
When transposing selected notes using the vertical handle, transposition is always scalar, i.e. all recorded notes always stay inside the current instrument's scale. For example, when you transpose one step upwards, one note might get transposed 1 semitone, while another might get transposed by 2, always ensuring that all transposed notes are still part of the scale.
If the instrument played by the part being edited is in "Drum map" mode, the corresponding drum names will be shown on the left instead of the note names.
Xequence has a very flexible Metronome with two basic modes:
Xequence always uses the root key of the current instrument for playing the metronome (if the instrument is in E, it will play E4 for bars and E3 for beats).
The slider sets the project tempo in BPM. The "½" toggle can be used to temporarily set the tempo to half the displayed value, which can be very useful during recording in fast (e.g., EDM) music.
The next two dials set the time signature (upper dial 3, lower dial 4 = 3/4). All time signatures should work, but if you find a problem using a particular one, please let us know.
Press the Record button to start live recording. This will record:
Recorded notes will be quantized automatically according to the settings in the "Q" menu in the top toolbar (you can choose the "Off" option if you do not want quantization, or if you want to quantize manually later).
Recorded controllers will not be quantized, except if the controller is in "Gate" mode. You can always quantize controllers after recording them by using the "Magic Wand" menu in the Controller editor.
If you start recording while in the Arranger, or in the Keyboard screen and you previously had the Arranger open, then a new part will be created on the currently selected track, and all events will be recorded into it. The part will be automatically trimmed, or deleted on stop if no events were recorded.
If you start recording while editing a part in the Pianoroll editor or had the Pianoroll editor open before switching to the Keyboard, then everything will be recorded into the currently open part. No new part will be created.
Note that it is currently not possible to separate incoming MIDI from multiple sources. All sources will be merged onto the currently selected track.
If you press Record while Xequence is stopped, the song position will be moved backwards by one or more bars (configurable in the Settings screen) so you have time to prepare. Any events (notes, controller movements) that arrive while in count-in will only be recorded if you are recording into the Arranger. If you're recording into the Pianoroll, events during count-in will be dropped.
If you enable the "Always during Count-In" option in the "Metronome" section under "MIDI / Recording" in Settings, then the metronome will automatically be enabled during count-in so that you can "get into the rhythm" even if there isn't anything recorded yet to guide you.
The Song Loop feature can be used to play a certain part of the arrangement over and over again. As soon as the loop's endpoint is reached, tt simply rewinds the song position to the loop's beginning. The looping is "perfect", i.e., no timing offset or jitter when wrapping around.
The loop can be set in various ways:
Please read this section carefully, as it is central to the way arranging in Xequence works:
All parts in the arrangement show a number on them, which is like a "group number" in that all linked parts show the same number. This lets you easily see at a glance which parts are linked to others.
Also, whenever you open a linked part in the Editor, a brief message "xx linked" will pop up, informing you of the fact that the edits you're about to do will affect several other parts as well.
If you have several parts selected that share the same data (for example, three parts with number 77), and you use the "Copy" (not "Copy and link") button, then the new parts will be independent of the originals, however, they do still maintain their "linkedness" between each other. So, the three copied parts might then, for example, all have the number 78.
If you would like all of the copies be independent of all the others, see below.
If you later on decide that you do want to independently edit a linked part, you can select it and then choose "Unlink" from the "Magic Wand" menu. This will make all selected parts independent of all the others. For example, if you have three parts selected that all have the number 152, after using "Unlink", they might have the numbers 153, 154 and 155, so they are all independent.
The global clipboard can be accessed by tapping the "+" button at the bottom left to open the Clipboard and Insert menu.
This clipboard works even across projects so you can copy and paste parts from one project into another.
The following options are available:
Parts in Xequence each have an invisible "Loop" switch which can be turned on or off for one or more parts by selecting them and then choosing "Loop on" or "Loop off" from the "Magic Wand" menu.
When a part's "Loop" switch is on:
Looping parts is a very powerful feature, for example:
As mentioned, looped parts stop looping when they hit another part on the same track. So, if your hihat line is supposed to end at some point, just draw a short empty part there, and you're done (see the red part in the image).
If you decide you want to make changes to the repeated parts (delete some of them, move them, or edit the notes only in some of the parts), then you can use "Convert loops to parts". This will convert the loop into actual (but still linked to the original) copies. You can now move them around, delete some of them, etc.
Note, however, that these parts are still linked to the original, so editing the notes inside them will modify all converted parts and the original. If you want to change the data of only one single part of them, select it and then choose "Unlink" from the "Magic Wand" menu, which will make it a truly independent copy (it will also get assigned a new number, visible on the part).
Xequence can receive MIDI data from other apps or hardware keyboards / controllers. This means that you can, for example:
For this to work, you would first need to enable MIDI Out in the other app, and, depending on the app, choose Xequence as the destination for MIDI Output. You might also need to enable "Background audio", again depending on the app, so that it stays active in the background when you switch back to Xequence. If you use a class-compliant external keyboard or controller, it also depends on the particular device, but many work out of the box.
In Xequence, go to the Settings screen ("..." at the top left), and in "MIDI / Recording", enable "MIDI In", and make sure the next button says "Sources: Any".
Now try sending notes or controllers from the other app or device. The "MIDI In" button should flash when you press keys or move controllers in the other app or device. You can also try to record notes or controllers into the Arrangement or Pianoroll, and check if they have been recorded correctly.
If you don't get any blinking or notes / controllers being recorded, try selecting the MIDI Source explicitly:
Some apps or devices need a different approach and you have to enable them explicitly as inputs in Xequence.
To do that, go to the Settings screen again, and tap on "Sources: Any". In the popup, your other app or device should have a button (which is deactivated). Activate it, and now again try sending notes from the other app or device and see if the MIDI In button blinks and events get recorded.
If this doesn't work either or your other app or device doesn't appear in the "Select MIDI sources" popup, please drop us a mail so we can investigate further!
Xequence can also record controller (knob, etc.) movements from external apps or devices. Controllers whose CC number has not yet been set up on the instrument of the track being recorded to will be added automatically to the instrument if "Auto-add controllers" is enabled on the Settings screen.
If that doesn't make any sense just yet, read on:
The screenshot shows an instrument that has controllers (CCs) 74 and 7 set up. As far as Xequence is concerned, only those controllers exist which are actually set up in an instrument. However, as long as "Auto-add controllers" is enabled on the Settings screen, Xequence will detect each new incoming controller that has not yet been set up on the instrument of the track being recorded to, and add it automatically.
A list of all newly detected controllers will be shown after recording finishes.
If you disable "Auto-add controllers", then "unknown" incoming controller data will simply be discarded.
MIDI Thru is a feature that lets you use Xequence as a central "hub" for your MIDI setup.
If you enable MIDI Thru, all MIDI notes and controllers that are received by Xequence are immediately forwarded to the instrument on the selected track, and thusly, to the MIDI destination configured in that instrument.
This means that if you setup your MIDI source (hardware MIDI keyboard, Arpeggiator app, etc.) to only send MIDI to Xequence and not to the actual synth apps or external synths, while enabling MIDI Thru in Xequence, you will never have to change any MIDI connection again, because your keyboard, Arpeggiator etc. will always automatically play the instrument on Xequence's selected track.
Needless to say, Xequence will of course also record the notes received as well.
So, to recap:
Now, your external keyboard or app acts as the "Master controller" for all of the other synths/instruments configured in Xequence. Select a different track, and your keyboard plays that track's instrument. Boom!
Xequence can import and export standard MIDI files (.mid), including notes, controllers, track names, program changes and information like BPM and time signature.
To import a MIDI file:
You can change various options for the import:
When you tap "Import", Xequence loads the MIDI file as a new project (it does not append it to the currently open song). This way, you can first clean up the imported data as necessary, and then use Xequence's Global Clipboard (described earlier in this manual) to copy and paste any number of parts from any number of tracks into another project, as desired.
Note that the MIDI file format does not support splitting the data into parts, so most of the time, you will end up with one long part per track after import. Xequence tries its best to trim the created parts at the beginning and end and also split it according to "Markers" potentially stored in the MIDI file. However, some manual cleanup will be required.
The currently open project can be exported as a MIDI file. For each of the project's instruments, one MIDI file track will be created. Only instruments which actually get used in the project (i.e., which have corresponding tracks with events on them) will be exported.
The following options are available when exporting:
After export, the file will be placed in Xequence's "Documents" folder and can be accessed through the iOS Files app for use in other apps.
If your device is running iOS 11 or later, you can access and manage all of Xequence's files with the Files app from your home screen.
After launching the Files app, tap on "On My iPhone" or "On My iPad", and then on "Xequence". You can freely move, copy and rename files / projects locally or between your devices.
If your device is running iOS 10, you will have to use iTunes to manage your files / projects:
Please note that the user interface inside iTunes changes frequently, so we cannot guarantee that these instructions are always up to date.
Xequence includes a Demo project with the fitting name "Alpha" (we actually used it during alpha testing!) which you can load from the "Project" tab in the Settings screen ("..." at the top left) so that you can quickly get a feel for the possibilities and handling in Xequence.
Of course, if you hit play, you won't hear anything or not what we intended, as Xequence doesn't have built-in synths.
However, the entire project was produced using sounds from Korg Gadget, and we have put the corresponding Gadget project online, which you can download, load into Gadget, and then actually fully work with the demo project.
The Gadget project is at:
Unfortunately, this is slightly complicated, however, it works!
You should now actually hear the project as it was intended to sound.
Note: The Gadget project uses some synths which are In-App Purchases, so if you haven't bought those, you might have a few drums / sounds missing.
Let's say you want to use three instruments from Gadget in Xequence, on three separate tracks:
Let's say you want to use three separate instances of Poison-202 in AUM, on three separate tracks:
This will let you use StepPolyArp to play and record any Xequence instrument, including recording the arpeggiated notes:
You can now go back to StepPolyArp, and whichever track is currently selected in Xequence, that track's instrument will automatically be played by StepPolyArp, and its notes recorded, if you tap the Record button.
You can also use Xequence's MIDI sync feature to have StepPolyArp automatically play in time with Xequence when you press keys in StepPolyArp, so that recordings are always in perfect sync.
To do that:
StepPolyArp will now acquire the BPM and relative song position from Xequence whenever you hit play, and play in sync with it.