Yamaha QX-21 sequencer 1987-1991

Yamaha QX-21 sequencer 1987-1991 Yamaha QX-21 sequencer

This was my core sequencer from 1987 to 1991. With 2 tracks and about a 6000 midi event memory, it could barely hold enough MIDI information for a complete song. Similar to the DX100, song data could be stored onto cassette tape, a silly and often unreliable means of archiving songs. Many good (and not-so-good) ideas vanished into the limbo of corrupt data. My lack of musical skill, and the simplicity of the device lent well to writing repetitive patterns and relatively mechanical sounding music. After 4 years of working with it, that became a fundamental aspect of the way I put music together.

Korg SQD-1 sequencer 1989

Korg SQD-1 sequencer 1989 Korg SQD-1 sequencer

This sequencer looked great on paper, and was a fine example of specs and packaging versus practical application. Not only did it have double the memory of the QX-21, but it also could save the information onto these odd floppy disks called “quick” disks. Also, it just looked like it would be a better device than it turned out to be. Unfortunately, it had fewer editing capabilities, so it seemed to make more sense to synch both machines up and bounce QX-21 data onto the SQD-1. In theory this should have worked, as I’d been able to synch up the QX-21 and multiple drum machines in the past. Not so, however. There was a horrific lag between the devices, and it’s sole purpose turned out to be the completion of “Dare”. After that, I attempted to use it to back up a few ideas onto quick disks, with a 30% chance that they would load up the next time.

I’m not sure, but I might have traded it for a bag of powdered milk.

Atari 1040 ST/Creator 1991-1998

Atari 1040 ST/Creator 1991-1998 Atari 1040 ST/Creator

Other than the TX16W sampler, this was the “brains” of T4M for the duration of the most active period of the band, from 1991 to 1995. With a comparatively (to the QX-21) whopping potential for up to 32 MIDI tracks, an intuitive graphic interface, an honest-to-goodness mouse control, and for our purposes UNLIMITED MIDI event memory, Creator was a significant leap as a compositional tool. Prior to the integration of software multi-track digital audio workstations (DAWs), it was the absolute go-to program for sequencing. One of the first things I did was transfer files from the QX-21 into Creator and - get this – save them to floppy disk. I never looked back. To this day, both Gabriel and I still compare the effectiveness of contemporary DAW MIDI sequencing environments to Creator. Many of them are very effective and probably better, but subjectively lacking in the magic.

A point of dubious interest, the file names needed to be 8 characters or less, so working song titles tended to be very short, most of which became the final titles on the CD.