This is me playing around with Steve Cooley’s amazing beatseqr hardware controller. I’m running it through a Macbook Pro, with Roxor and Steppa, the open-source software designed specifically for the hardware. The Macbook is sending MIDI out to an Emu ESI-32, and I’m also adding Space Echo, spring reverb and digital delay to individual tracks. I spent about 10 minutes beforehand programming the step sequencer, otherwise everything is live.
SUPER sweet video, dude!!
Some back story … I met Jonathan back in 1997 when he was one of the guys running the legendary and seminal weekly internet radio broadcast show called the Beta Lounge. In fact, the beta lounge continues to broadcast, and they have, gasp!!, every show in their archive?! WHOA, they even have my very first DJ set in front of people, which consisted of me playing one turntable with vinyl, and a laptop running a program my brother wrote for me called “QTTurntable”… in 1997. Think about that. That was some cutting edge stuff for the time! But I’m sure my set sounds awful. I don’t even want to go listen to it, but it’s there. Too embarrassing for me.
YES! GarageBand is controllable from external midi devices like keyboards, so that means that Steppa, the sequencer that runs with Beatseqr, can sequence drums, synths, and DLS sound fonts! It’s pretty cool. GarageBand makes setup pretty simple. Follow these steps:
0. FOLLOW THE ONE TIME, FIRST TIME SETUP INSTRUCTIONS
1. plug in your Beatseqr.
2. launch Steppa, Roxor, and Garageband. The order in which you do this doesn’t seem to matter.
3. Once everything is up and running, turn a knob on beatseqr so that Roxor and Steppa are displaying the same numbers. Go slowly if it doesn’t seem to be working, or try the other knob until it does. When you hit the play/stop button on beatseqr, you should see the chase lights running across the step sequence buttons, and the beat count lights (right above the tempo readout) should be lighting up in steppa.
4. In steppa, change the “Midi out device” drop down list to “from Steppa”.
5. Garageband may actually already be ready to play sound, so hit some of the sequence buttons on beatseqr. If things are working, you’ll probably hear the world’s best piano solo.
6. In garageband, double click on the software instrument track to bring up the controls to change it. Change it from whatever it is (probably a piano) to Drum Kits. Now your piano sounds should be drum sounds. Program in some more steps for the different voices, and you should get a drum sequence up and running pretty quickly.
7. Rock the heck out.
BONUS: Ok, so you want to rock more beats, but you don’t want to rock more bucks. Welp, you have a few options, but I can tell you that you’re entering into some fringe territory. Garageband has an instrument called “DLSMusicDevice”. You can research how to find, download, and extract free soundfont files from around the interwebs, but no guarantee that they’ll work particularly well. What you CAN do, for not tooooo much money is purchase a piece of software called “PolyPhontics GB”. What it does is let you create soundfonts that you *know* will work in garageband. The setup process is a little bit of a time eater, but for the price ($35), it’s actually really great! The catch here is that you’ll need to already have some samples, but those are pretty easy to find out in this great big inter wide world tube web of ours. PolyPhontics GB will even let you try out building ten 8 sample sound font packs for free, which, if you’ve noticed, matches up to Beatseqr’s 8 voice sequencing capability perfectly.