Sequencing – the collection of techniques that actually assemble events in our music – seems to get far less attention than it deserves. After all, there are fairly accepted ways of synthesizing sound, but as many ways of thinking about musical events as there are ways of thinking about composition. Among the big DAWs, you’ll often see pitches to upgrade based on new effects plug-ins or magical audio-processing abilities, but rarely MIDI sequencing improvements. (When there are, of course, I applaud.)

That makes this week’s pre-Christmas announcement of Numerology 2.0 all that more special. Numerology is a modular sequencer and that alone. It brings some of the modular capabilities usually found in synths to sequencing, with component sequencers and modulation for manipulating sequence evens the way you’d usually transform sound signal.

The upshot of all of this: you can play with musical patterns with the freedom usually reserved for synths. Features:

  • Sequencing modules, including MonoNote (monophonic sequencer), polyphonic PolyNote (duh) and MatrixSeq, eight-track DrumSeq
  • Component sequencers for modular-style sequencing, plus LFOs, envelopes, CV mixers, MIDI generators, MIDI processors
  • Stacks: virtual equipment racks for easier composing / performance, and an integrated audio mixer
  • Add software plug-ins (AU) or route to external hardware gear (yep, the computer is still awesome when it comes to sequencing outboard synths, even in 2008/9!)
  • New, simple sound-generating modules for easy integration with the environment, including synthesis, polyphonic AudioSample and eight-part DrumKit
  • MIDI remote control of parameters, plus custom CV, audio, and MIDI routing
  • Timeline playlist arrangement
  • Sync via MIDI clock, MTC, or ReWire
  • Mac-only, 10.4.11 and later; US$99 until 1/4/09 (then $119)

System requirements are pretty tame (this is a sequencer, after all), so this could be a great application for an older Mac, provided it has a 1GHz or greater CPU. (PowerPCs included.)

How does it all work? Here are some videos to give you an idea. Hope to add this to my scary but delicious testing pile (New Years’ Resolution: more useful hands-on content).

A demo:

Getting started:

Any passionate Numerology users out there? We’d love to hear from you. What are your thoughts on the new version, and how do you use the tool in your music?

  • might be good for my MSI Wind running OSX.

  • wow, that's freakin' cool.

    I was just wishing that Logic had some kind of note step sequencer thing like this the other day, and was playing around setting up the pitches for various scales in ultrabeat.

    This is so much more comprehensive … very very neat.

  • m.0

    I became a big fan of Numerology after it was mentioned sometime back here on CDM. Definitely worth checking out!

  • Vanceg

    Numerology is SO much more than a standard MIDI sequencer. It's so damn cool that I don't even know where to start in describing it here – if you are not familiar with it and have any interest in creative methods of MIDI sequencing, you need to check it out.
    No – I'm not affiliated with the company in any way other than being a real fan of the software.

  • amoeba

    num is the shiz. i'm getting ready to give up Live finally, and this is the tool that will let me do it.

    if any CDM readers are in the colorado/denver area, the developer is hosting a 2 day hands-on workshop here on january 24-25. we have a few slots open, please feel free to contact me for further details: bug DOT out AT gmail DOT com

  • Adrian Anders

    Another good modular alternative is <a>Energy XT. One $69 license covers Windows, Macintel OSX, AND Linux. There is no draconian copy-protection so if you have 2 Windows machines, a Macbook, and a DIY Linux box you can have the same sequencer on all of your machines at the same time!

  • crusty

    Energy XT? As an alternative to Live? Not for Mac-Users…as the current version remains woefully unfinished, cool as it potentially is.

    But — if eXT for Mac manages to get a proper update (by 1/15/09 as Jorgen has forecasted), and if it includes a VST version, then you can either give up Live (if you really want to), or: use eXT to wrap Numerology with Live as the host (!).

  • Never heard of this before. I used to use "M" and "Ovaltune" back in the earlier Mac days. This looks VERY cool. Thanks for the tip…I'm on my way over there now!

  • me

    M is still available for OSX

    whats the deal with upgrades from Numerology 1.0?
    I bought v1 as knew it had potential but was hanging out for v2…
    but no mention of upgrades???

  • Oh man, I think this might make half the software I've been working on for the past year obsolete! I looked at Numerology a long time ago but it wasn't quite there yet and I forgot about it. Now it looks like it's "there" and then some. I've been trying to fill in the cracks in my setup, and have been trying to work with Live, but it just wasn't right for me. I do what I'd call deterministic (non-randomized) algorithmic music, and this looks perfect for me! Can't wait to try it out when I get back from my holiday break.

  • bliss

    Cool program!

  • mhulot

    This program is amazing! Calling it a sequencer is doing it injustice… you are able to build patches so complicated and crazy with the modules that it provides, I've built patches that don't repeat for thousands of measures. The forums over there have some project files that really show the potential.

  • A quick upgrade note: There's no separate upgrade charge for Numerology 1.X license holders. There will be some paid upgrade action next year… 😉

  • no swing/shuffle function????

  • Congratulations, Jim. This was a long time coming, and it looks pretty great. Numerology will be one of the first purchases after I return to the Mac.

    Say what you will about Scientology, but that Dianetics theme is pretty boss. Ha.

  • crust

    Ooops….forget using eXT to wrap Numerology and import into Live — this would only be possible if Numerology was a VST. Fun idea, though.

  • Bodhi

    @intrepid traveller: in num1.4 you could adjust the offset of the clock (it is a modular sequencer after all!). I assume something similar is possible with 2.0

  • for "me" .:
    the upgrade from Num 1.0 is free 🙂

    I use num V 2.0 not only for audio but even to control VDMX 😉

  • bliss

    @ intrepid traveller

    See: GrooveClock

  • Simon

    Looks very interesting and useful but I don't think I could see myself using it as my main sequencing environment, I'd like to see how I can incorporate it into my setup though.

  • apoclypse

    It woudl be cool if this were some sort of plugin I could use in Logic. I can do some damage with that hing. I'm probably going to get it anyway but I need it to integrate into Logic as I don't usually do live work.

  • mhulot

    You can integrate it into any program… I've been using it with live… it has rewire and also syncs to any midi bus… also sends midi out to any program… there's no real reason for it to need to be a vst… I've been using it to generate LFOs for ableton live parameters as well as feed some real chaos into my drum sequences and generate some insane notes sequences that never repeat for 100s of measures.

  • mhulot: how'd you get it to generate LFOs for ableton parameters??? isn't that that holy grail that ableton users have been after for eons?

    i'm having problems syncing the two programs together… ableton sees numerology's three ports in its MIDI out section, but there is no 'numerlogy 1,2, or 3' in numerology's MIDI in section…


  • also, is anyone else visualizing kermit the frog while watching the tutorial videos? very jim henson-esque…


  • As an old fan of Dr T's Keyboard Controlled Sequencer on the Amiga, seeing this makes my toes curl


  • mhulot

    intrepid traveller… its pretty easy… load ableton… then load numerology… numerology will automatically go into sync mode, so when you hit play in ableton numerology will start… then set the "numerology out" midi ports on ableton tracks… set up an lfo in numerology routed to a cc gen… of course attach the cc to a control in ableton and launch over it! I installed the rewire driver… not sure if this is what allows it to sync so easily. And yes LFOS/Crazy Modulations are amazing in Live!

  • mhulot

    just checked… it is the rewire driver that allows the sync… when you load up numerology after loading Live the sync button disappears and Numerology reports that it is in Rewire mode

  • wow – i can't wait to try this! thanks mhulot!