tempest MIDI is back, baby. Or to say it another way: musicians still care about how to manipulate notes, rhythms, and timbral control. That means that, for all the powerful audio-warping tools you pack into a product, the compositional, musical power of software lives and dies on MIDI. But can you really do MIDI any better than it’s been done for the past couple of decades?

Temper would like to try. It’s not MIDI-only — it does audio, too, and has the requisite support for VSTs — but it is a little different from the sequencer perspective. And whereas innovative sequencers lately have been throwbacks to the tracker design, Temper emphasizes modularity and the ability to create shapes. As the developers put it, it’s:

…a MIDI+Audio sequencer with an emphasis on MIDI. Temper is distinguished by two basic design goals: To provide you with tools that operate on sequences as easily as individual events, and to decouple what gets processed by how it gets processed.

ah-08 The features, in short:

  • Modular control over events, chaining of tools
  • Interactive algorithmic compositional tools
  • Take management, and the ability to edit multiple tracks at once
  • “Unified MIDI controllers + VST automation” — ah, now you’re really getting my interest.

And you get all of this, with full ASIO support and multicore audio, for US$50. (And a full trial is available — with absolutely nothing crippled or time-limited. Now that’s a far cry from adding a dongle, huh? Show them the model works by giving the tool a try and paying up if you like it.)

I have to say, I think Windows wins out as the platform for cheap software and for unusual MIDI sequencers/hosts (not that you don’t have plenty of choices as a Mac user, but Windows has a particular wealth of option).

Now, the one thing Temper isn’t is non-linear; that is, the emphasis is on linear sequencing, not interactive live sequencing as in Ableton Live or even the live performance mode in FL Studio. (And Ableton, boy would I love some more of these kinds of tools in Live.) But I could even see a workflow where you assemble intricately-constructed rhythms in Temper and export to Live or FL Studio — or fashion a live set in Live and then polish off a sequenced version in Temper. Curious on your take.

I’ll have to give this tool a spin. Alternative MIDI sequencer round-up in the future? You bet.

Angry Red Planet: Temper [via Remix News]

Anyone using Temper yet? Any other hosts to consider alongside it? (Obviously, the trackers and quasi-trackers, EnergyXT, Renoise, the mighty FL Studio, and the like.)

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Above: Powerful controls and shaping tools give you complex possibilities.

  • Audiomaker

    This looks really interesting with its algorythmic

    composing features alone. I'm off to download it now.

  • http://www.thumbuki.com/ Jacob Joaquin

    MIDI is like the thing that would not die.

    Don't get me wrong, it revolutionized music in the sense it has forever changed the way we make/perform music, and continues to be a major player in the music world. I'm just surprised that something hasn't come along to take it's place, considering the many inherent drawbacks of MIDI.

    On the other hand, it's encouraging to see software developers still pushing the envelope of what is possible with it.

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

    Well, for one thing, there's no replacement. MIDI is currently the *only* standard way to refer to note events and sequences, to my knowledge. Now, part of what's nice here is using that alongside with VST automation data, which is not MIDI. And the other thing this app demonstrates is that MIDI can do a lot more just by changing the interface. I agree that MIDI has some drawbacks and I'd like to see new stuff, but when I say MIDI is back, part of what I see is that manipulating digital note and control data still matters a lot, and that we haven't exhausted the ways to do that. If we could come up with new standard tools for modeling notes and control, that could grow even more. (control, at least, somewhat covered by OSC, though that's not a file interchange format).

  • http://www.thumbuki.com/ Jacob Joaquin

    I think more than any other single factor that a new standard hasn't risen to power and has successfully overthrown MIDI is the tremendous legacy support. I can go to my closet, pull out my Roland MT-32 (purchased around 1989) plug it into my setup and have it work without issue. That's really quite amazing when you think about it. Or at least to me.

    It's also worth pointing out that even though there are quite a few problems with MIDI, it still got a lot things right. Enough to keep it going as long as it has.

    With that said, I'm ready for a standard that supports higher resolutions, and better data transfer rates, etc… If it never happens, I probably won't lose much sleep over it.

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

    Well, OSC I think is the most logical replacement for the tasks you're looking for, Jacob — especially since no one has seen or heard from the elusive proposed higher-def MIDI standard.

    But this is a sequencer. I haven't actually seen any real, substantive attempt to improve MIDI song and note data, beyond the extensions to MIDI for cell phones, interactive music, and basically alternate applications. Again, maybe the HD MIDI…

    And yeah, legacy support is great. It is important not to forget the reasons we love MIDI — something we're reminded of when users complain there aren't standard MIDI jacks on devices.

  • tobamai

    Temper's interface is the reason the red planet is angry.

  • WarpedEye

    Advanced midi functionality is the only reason why I still have Cubase around and haven't made the 100% swith to Live yet. I've been impatiently waiting for Live's midi tools to become more advanced, but every upgrade dissapoints me (in that area only).

    This, however, looks relly interesting.

  • ZooTooK

    I've said somewhere that Temper is for midi composing what Live was for composing with audio… Bare in mind that Temper is still somewhat imature as a product, meaning there are lots of potential to squash out of the shape concept.

    I guess the shape concept does take some time to grasp but it pays off well once you get it…

  • Rozling

    The envelope editor is stunning for an app of this price, I was reminded of Live too, but I think that's simply because this app seems fairly unique to me (I haven't tried all the major sequencers though).

    I'm just playing around, but already I've been impressed by the way you can overlay envelopes & colour them differently. Also the pen tool is excellent (wonder if it works with the tablet…)

  • http://www.garagespin.com garagespin

    Great find. Stupid question – could this be plugged into a Sonar?

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

    @garagespin: Hmmm, doesn't look like it has ReWire support, which would be the coolest way to integrate with SONAR.

    For now, exporting MIDI tracks may be your only option sadly…

  • cubestar

    You could probably connect the two via midiyoke and whatever transports audio between apps on windowz.

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

    Actually, if you connect them with MIDIYoke, etc., you might not really need audio connectivity… just use it as an additional sequencer source.

  • ngamoko

    Wonderful Midi.am pleased that I have kept every sound module that I ever purchased from the Roland U110 till now, 10 in all. Have the latest computer using Cubase. However, still prefer Atari and Notator. Why, there are several reasons.Mostly, because being a musician what is important is the music not the technical side. Atari has a motorola6000 chip, never been beaten for timing.Also,if I can't play it correctly I keep practicing till can.Never, never,fix it in the mix.Midi is great and if you know how to use it there is freedom for experimenting. I do full arrangements up to 30 piece orchestra.Check how it sounds then give the parts out to the players. It seems there are many users of midi who just love the technical side and "playing" with the sounds, thats fine. But, music is my purpose the technical side is secondary.For me midi is a wonderful invention and I find it has no short comings as long as you use it as an artist uses paints. They paint pictures we paint sounds.Most seem to rely too much on the technology and not on playing music. Some of the bands are not very impressed with me as I refuse to record them if they do not have their music nearly perfect. I send them home to practice.It costs me work and money to do that but am trying to keep the standards up. Midi,has no short comings if you use it as the artists brush and paint a music picture. Rely on your music ability not on the technology.

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

    ngamoko, you've just earned more points than I can count by using Atari + Notator. Beautiful.

  • ngamoko

    Hi Peter,Just found your site. Its strange but technology has not realy improved that much. I am dreading the day when the Atari dies. However, have a spare one. Hopefully, will see me out. Notator was brilliant in 1990 and still is today.Started recording in 1949,making my own acetates, then mono tape, hifi,4 track,8 track etc till now. How lucky are you guys. We had a lot of fun on the way though.Guess I have given away my age by now. It is interesting that everyone wants more resolution.What for, if 16 bit 44.1 is done correctly for music its great. We go for high resolution then play back on mp3. Does that make sense? Guess you have worked out by now that I am in the recording industry.Peter, enjoyed your music and visual.

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

    No, I agree … even as I prepare to leave for NAMM, the technology hasn't changed so much. But then, that gives us more time to use it. And I do think the people designing the technology do often have interesting, new ideas, even if the actual technology may not be radical each time.

    Very much appreciate your thoughts and kudos!

  • http://syncretism.net Niall

    Temper is the next generation of Angry Red Planet's classic sequencer for the BeOS, Sequitur. If anyone can make one look at MIDI in a new way, Eric and Diane Hackborn can. I still use Sequitur for event processing – it exposes serious creative possibilities to those who aren't smart enough for Max {like me}.

    They're also some of the nicest people on the internet, whose hard work kept me productive on BeOS long after most sensible people had moved on to Windows, Oh-Sex or even Linux for music.

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

    Hey, Niall — thanks, I hadn't made the connection. I do know of Sequitur, though not having ever taken the BeOS leap, never got to use it.

    Still use your Be box?

  • ZooTooK

    Regarding integration with other sequencers, I think that the developers are looking into making Temper a VST, just like Energy XT. To midi integrate Temper with other sequencers it needs to send/recieve start/stop – and that is not supported at the moment, I believe.

    I agree with Niall that the developers are some of the nicest guys on Internet….!