Sony PSP users: turned off by new-fangled graphical drum machines and wireless Ableton Live controllers? Want to kick it oldskool with a tracker? Check out PSPSeq, which has now matured to version 1.0 (from 0.2). Here’s what’s new:

  1. editable parameters on instruments
  2. customizable instrument groupings
  3. multiple loops/song sequence
  4. tap tempo
  5. multiple audio presets, new generators/fx
  6. improvements and optimizations to many of the generators and fx
  7. configurable step length
  8. proper swing handling

I have to say, those are some pretty luxurious features for a portable game system tracker, all while maintaining the feel of similar homebrew trackers on systems like the original Game Boy. Not to be overlooked are PSPSeq’s formidable synth capabilities, which sound appropriately glitchy and 8-bit but are capable of producing some unique results. The demo here, built in 0.2, sounds really fantastic — “A Day in the Life of an Android” by billy:

A Day in the Life of an Android

A next-gen game portable sounding like a tripped-out Game Boy? Priceless.

In fact, between this and the aforementioned, more modern software, the PSP is becoming a pretty impressive music system between games of Lumines. Earth to Sony: resistance is futile. Win back much-needed credibility in your core market (ahem, rootkit) and embrace the homebrews instead of fighting them. Sure, that might make the lives of pirates easier, but it’d also attract new attention — and likely hardware sales — to a platform that could use a little extra buzz. And think of the great parties you could hold with PSPSeq DJs glitching out in the booth.

On the subject of great user-built creations Sony has unwisely disabled, this is one of them. Read the fine print for compatibility information:
“PSPSeq runs on all firmwares between 1.0 and 2.71, along with 2.71 SE. PSPSeq is not compatible with 2.80/2.81 and cannot be loaded via devhook or Hen-C.”

For Nintendo fans, visit our sister site CDMotion and witness the Nintendo DS acting as a wireless VJ controller, cueing, scratching, fading, and effecting live video and animation over Wi-Fi:
Nintendo DS as VJ Controller, with vvvv and Homebrew Developer Tools

  • http://www.sighup.ca Steve

    Well, I think both Sony and Nintendo are going to be mostly dead-ends for homebrew stuff, mainly because it will profit them very little in the long run.

    But here's an idea, why not petition Korg or Yamaha or some other big gear manufacturer to come out with either a music-oriented, handheld, and customizable computer device or to partner with either Sony or Nintendo to develop a music-based homebrew-like solution for the existing handheld game devices?

    I have a pocketPC running MilkyTracker and a few other music apps, but the biggest problem with Pocket PCs: 1) the sound devices suck, 2) apps are forever being abandoned, and 3) Pocket PCs have all sorts of PDA crap on them that you can't delete since they are part of the OS. Insteading of putting out digital gear with operating systems that feel like 1994, why hasn't anyone ventured into making gear that at least competes on the level of a handheld computer from 3 years ago?

  • Thomas

    PSP is not really attractive for music stuff. Because of his touch screen the DS could do those jobs better.

    If you want a really mobile music device go for a Palm with Bhajis Loops and you got a really flexible sample based virtual studio for few bucks.

  • http://www.sighup.ca Steve

    I tried Bhaji's Loops, it's alright, but I certainly don't think it is miles ahead of similar packages for the Pocket PC (I actually think AudioBox is better, but it's too much for my old iPaq to handle). But Bhaji's Loops suffers from the same fate as other PDA apps, namely being tied to all that PDA crap.

    Why aren't there any flexible and good handheld music computer solutions that aren't afterthoughts?

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Steve, I agree that it'd be great to see a uniquely-designed portable music device. I actually chatted about this with Lyn Williams, who designed the old Phillips PMC1000, a combination FM synth (with membrane keyboard!), sequencer, and cassette tape recorder (with mic!). It's funny, there are lots of possibilities for what that could be now, but no one seems to be biting. I think that Roland, Korg, and others would argue they *do* have this product — but what they have is really something with a very old model for how these things should work.

    That said, the reason people like these ideas (aside from sheer novelty) is that the mass-market devices are always going to be cheaper, a lot of us own them already, and some people actually like the multitasking of devices as game systems or PDAs. There are also people who like the unique game system inputs, the sylus, and even the PSP game pad.

    I do think there should be a market for both. The one thing you haven't mentioned is the Linux angle, which should make it possible for people to customize a device for their needs and get just the kind of solution I think you may be imagining.

  • The Cody

    PSPSeq is a neat idea right now. It still has a while on it development yet before it gets to a point where it's a viable composition software. PSPSeq comes from a aleatoric composition style; every step has a percent chance of triggering. Honestly, for music on the PSP, I still use a GB emulator and LSDj.

    The GP2X is for more interesting for music. LGPT, the piggy, has it's own 8 internal channels and 16 midi channels. When they get the EXT -> Serial Midi, or EXT -> USB Midi Interface, I will purchase a GP2X. PD, Pure Data (a free software similar to MAX, and made by MAX's original author), has also been <a>ported to the GP2X. These has been talk of using PD as a plugin of sorts to LGPT.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    On vintage Game Boy LSDj remains awesome, yes, as does Nanoloop (which I think never gets credit for its originality.) And it's fun to use the original hardware.

    I'm intrigued by GP2X, as well. Too bad it doesn't have a more interesting interface, a la the DS stylus (unless I've missed something and that's possible in future).

  • http://dspmusic.org/psp ethan

    hi, i'm the developer of PSPSeq. first off thanks peter for the kind words. PSPSeq is definitely capable of both lo-fi retroish sounds along with sounds that are less… dated. it is interesting to me to see what sort of music people will make with it; i am guessing that because of the background of much of the homebrew audience (and my own personal aesthetic and technical choices), songs will be bleepy, but they definitely don't have to be. as for other people's points…

    Steve

    Well, I think both Sony and Nintendo are going to be mostly dead-ends for homebrew stuff, mainly because it will profit them very little in the long run.

    honestly i agree with this. this is a business for both of them and don't need to cater to us. that said, i still believe that -right now- it's good to use the tools avaialble and do with it what you can, especially when they are as powerful as a PSP. if PSP homebrew becomes too painful, i'll probably move over to the GP2X.

    Thomas

    PSP is not really attractive for music stuff. Because of his touch screen the DS could do those jobs better.

    i think DS is perhaps more compelling for live performance because of the touchpad/native non-linear interface, but in terms of processing power i don't think it can compete with the PSP. for composition the PSP is quite nice. plus its LCD is phenominal and i believe it has more pixels on its one screen than both DS screens combined. i don't think the ability to display as much data as possible can be underestimated.

    If you want a really mobile music device go for a Palm with Bhajis Loops and you got a really flexible sample based virtual studio for few bucks.

    hey that looks pretty good! it has a lot of features i'd like to include in PSPSeq. how's the polyphony? i would guess the PSP is faster and has more predictable performance, but i really don't know.

    The Cody

    PSPSeq is a neat idea right now. It still has a while on it development yet before it gets to a point where it’s a viable composition software. PSPSeq comes from a aleatoric composition style; every step has a percent chance of triggering. Honestly, for music on the PSP, I still use a GB emulator and LSDj.

    what's missing to make it a viable composition program? have you tried the latest version yet? it's actually wrong to dismiss PSPSeq as primarily aleatoric; you can set the percentages to 100%. where's your aleaticness now??? ;)

    using the probabilistic sequencing (the term i use) is quite useful for writing non-repeating drum patterns where you make the main hits 100% and then the little fills and inbetween spots something less than that. it's more of a carryover shortcut from when i was coding all my music in assembly language, but i think it has some value within the PSPSeq GUI. if it means you can avoid constantly rewriting a couple tracks to keep a loop interesting, then it's done its job. computationally, it's for all intents and purposes, free.

    PD, Pure Data (a free software similar to MAX, and made by MAX’s original author), has also been ported to the GP2X.

    now -that's- something i need to check out!

  • Thomas

    @ethan: "hey that looks pretty good! it has a lot of features i’d like to include in PSPSeq. how’s the polyphony?"

    Polyphony depends from the processing power of your Palm. My Zire 72s (purchased for 120 € on eBay) delivers 16 voices. Maybe there are 2 or 3 more voices possible but then the ui will became unusable slow.

  • The Cody

    ethan

    <blockquote cite="what’s missing to make it a viable composition program?">

    It's the interface alone that needs work. Maybe it's me. Sonar for some, Cubase for other; a wok for some, a flat grill for others. The software is very good, and and allows for very creative work. I just don't jive with the interface.

    <blockquote cite="it’s actually wrong to dismiss PSPSeq as primarily aleatoric">

    The aleatoric comment was aimed at the origins of PSPSeq, with your chiclet hardware. I wasn't dismissing it as a random pattern generator. Sorry if my wording was vague (as it usually is). I like the trigger chance settings, they are very useful.

    <blockquote cite="if PSP homebrew becomes too painful, i’ll probably move over to the GP2X.">

    Even more reason for me to finally buy a GP2X.

  • http://dspmusic.org/psp ethan

    Polyphony depends from the processing power of your Palm. My Zire 72s (purchased for 120 € on eBay) delivers 16 voices. Maybe there are 2 or 3 more voices possible but then the ui will became unusable slow.

    that sounds about right; i'm getting around 13-16 voices on PSPSeq and the main CPUs (333MHz MIPS R4000 vs 312 Xscale) are roughly the same.

    i'd like to port PSPSeq to a few platforms; sounds like palm might have to be one of them…

  • http://dspmusic.org/psp ethan

    It’s the interface alone that needs work. Maybe it’s me. Sonar for some, Cubase for other; a wok for some, a flat grill for others. The software is very good, and and allows for very creative work. I just don’t jive with the interface.

    ah ok. i'd be curious to discuss details of what doesn't jive privately. pspseq -at- dspmusic -dot- org if you're willing. this is my first attempt at a UI of any kind. by virtue of the fact that i wrote the program, i find it easy and fast to use, but i'm definitely not in the best person to judge! :)

    The aleatoric comment was aimed at the origins of PSPSeq, with your chiclet hardware. I wasn’t dismissing it as a random pattern generator. Sorry if my wording was vague (as it usually is). I like the trigger chance settings, they are very useful.

    no worries, just wanted to make sure it's known that PSPSeq can be used as a 'normal' sequencer quite easily. in fact, the default trigger percentage when entering hits is 100%, so unless you actively decide to use the probabilistic capabilities, you won't ever run into them.

  • http://variogr.am brian whitman

    ethan– rock the witch, this sounds great. for those worrying about the UI, I predict in 6 months someone will make an NDS touchscreen UI that controls PSPSeq on a PSP over WiFi.

  • http://ill3trism.mon-blog.org ill3trism.mon-blog.o

    >brian

    i hope someone hears you.

    all that is fantastic though

    congratulations to the author