Atari ST MIDI sequencer timeline

Year Systems & specs C-Lab & Emagic Steinberg The Digital Muse Dr. T Hybrid Arts Intelligent Music Other
1982 First MIDI instruments released, C64 released
1983 MIDI spec published[1][2][3][4]
1984
1985 Atari ST released, with GUI + bult-in MIDI[5][6]
1986 SuperTrack (C64)[7][8] Pro-16 V2 (C64),[9][10][11] Pro-24 V1.0[12][13] Keyboard Controlled Sequencer (C64)[14] MIDI Recorder[15][16]
1987 Creator V1[17][18] Keyboard Controlled Sequencer V1.0,[19] V1.3[20] MIDITrack ST[21] Iconix,[22][23] Super Conductor[24][25]
1988 Standard MIDI File (SMF) spec published[26][27][28] Notator/Creator V2.0 (Notator introduced)[29][30][31] Pro-24 V3[32][33] MIDI Recording Studio V1.1[34] SMPTETrack[35] M,[36][37] MIDIDraw[38] MIDIDrummer,[39] MIDIGrid,[38] MIDISoft Studio[40]
1989 Cubase V1[41][42][43][44][45] Virtuoso[46][47][48] Realtime[49][50][51] The Final Cut,[52] Master Tracks Pro,[53] MIDIDrummer V2,[54][55] Trackman[56][57][58][59]
1990 Cubase V1.5,[60] Cubase V2.0[61] Prodigy[62] Tiger,[63][64][65] Tiger Cub V1.0[66][67] Sequencer One,[68][69] Trax[70]
1991 Notator/Creator V3.0[71][72][73] KCS Omega[74] SMPTETrack Gold[75][76]
1992 C-Lab Atari Falcon mod? Notator/Creator V3.1[77][78] Cubase V3[79][80] Rave[81] Tiger Cub V2.0
1993 Notator Logic V1.5[82] Sweet Sixteen V2[83]

Pro-16 was notably used by M/A/R/R/S,[84] Bomb the Bass,[85] and S-Express,[86] the latter two both due to Pascal Gabriel.[87]

I don't think it's what you use, it's how you use it and how well you know it. It doesn't matter if it's 20 years old, if it does a good job it's irrelevant.

— Pascal Gabriel, 1989[87]

Notable users of Pro-24 include Meat Beat Manifesto.[88]

Pro 24 is simple, and it's quick. Cubase is as well, but we've just never got round to buying a copy. Pro 24 does the job, it does what we need a sequencer to do and we really don't need anything more complicated. It depends what you use it for; some of the new generation of sequencers are great, but I actually like the limitation of only 24 tracks.

— Jack Dangers, Meat Beat Manifesto, 1993[88]

Notable users of Creator included Coldcut,[89] Fatboy Slim,[90] the Future Sound of London,[91][92] LFO,[93] Clint Mansell,[94] The Orb,[95] Orbital,[96][97] and System 7.[98]

Because the timing of computers is so precise, a whole generation of musicians is growing up, whose timing expectations are quite different from the days before these advanced sequencers were around. Modern "high-tech" musicians have come to regard quantized timing as the norm, and human timing as somehow below standard, such that even technically-proficient musicians have felt that they needed to quantize their playing via a computer in order to be able to compete. The downside of this searching for perfection is the loss of much of the human feel that went into the original recording of the notes.

— Notator/Creator SL 3.1 owner's manual

We've also been going into a live mute situation on Creator, and recording all the mutes, 'cos that can give you a really weird structure. It can get quite messy, but it has something to offer. You might have written a hi-hat pattern which is quite continuous, and you can just drop-mute it at weird points, which gives it quite a scatty feel, so things are always different through the track.

— Gary Cobain, the Future Sound of London, 1992[91]

I think I might change from C-Lab to Cubase, now. The thing I didn't like was having to go up into a menu to transpose - you know, transpose... how many?... OK... and if you didn't like it, go back up, do it all again - whereas C-Lab always had that little block on the side. But the new version of Cubase has that little block on the other side, so there's nothing to stop us, really.

— Paul Hartnoll, Orbital, 1993[96]

Cubase is much better for arranging: you can get an overall picture so much easier. They tried, with C-Lab, with that block arrangement, but I do like to be able to see an overview.

— Phil Hartnoll, Orbital, 1993[96]

By next year, they seemed to change their mind:

We've used it ever since we had a computer, which is about four years. I've always wanted to try Cubase with its arrange window, 'cos that's how you tend to visualise music — left to right and linear — but now I'm not so sure, because I know this system so well.

— Paul Hartnoll, Orbital, 1994[97]

It looks like track transposition was a dealbreaker for Orbital. Their music has a lot of parts that are always playing major thirds, so it seems likely that those consist of one track ghosting another in Creator, set to four semitones above it. This was probably much easier than playing major thirds manually, and quicker than carefully detuning a second oscillator.

I particularly like the real-time track parameter editing on C-Lab; being able to change things like delay, velocity and transposition in real time is, I think, the main reason why C-Lab gets used so much for dance music.

— Steve Hillage, System 7, 1991[98]

Notable users of Cubase included Fluke,[99] William Orbit,[100][101] and Woob.[102]

Cubase is still quite new to us but at the same time, because it's so flexible, it doesn't tie you down to writing in any particular way. Cubase has improved things no end; it encourages you to write musically, not actually think of music in terms of repeating patterns all the time. When we were using the MMT8, the drum beat and the bassline would change far less often because it was such a hassle to re-program. The ability of a sequencer to loop started all this 'sequencer music' business, the fact that you can just run around eight bars and continually build up music. That's why a lot of dance music has developed in the way that it has. If you got a bunch of musicians together the music wouldn't have that sort of insistence.

— Mike Tournier, Fluke, 1990[99]

We bought the computer and the C-Lab for the studio and hired programmers to operate it. Then I thought 'this is ridiculous', the reason I got into engineering was because it was quicker for me. I had a go and didn't like the C-Lab, so I gave it to my engineer. Then I bought the Mega2 and Cubase and two days later I was kicking myself for not doing it before. Now it's like second nature. It's enabled me to be more spontaneous with music.

— William Orbit, 1990[100]

Tiger Cub was notably used by Aphex Twin.[103]

References

  1. Introducing the MIDI Electronics & Music Maker, May 1983
  2. Climb Aboard The MIDI Bus Electronic Soundmaker & Computer Music, Nov 1983
  3. MIDI Electronic Soundmaker & Computer Music, Dec 1983
  4. The MIDI 1.0 Specification Electronics & Music Maker, May 1984
  5. Atari 520ST Electronics & Music Maker, Jul 1985
  6. Atari 520ST MIDI Computer International Musician & Recording World, Nov 1985
  7. C-Lab Supertrack Sound On Sound, May 1986
  8. Multitracking On A Budget Electronics & Music Maker, Jun 1986
  9. Professional Conduct Electronics & Music Maker, Feb 1986
  10. The Professional's Choice Sound On Sound, Apr 1986
  11. The Soft Parade In Tune, Jun 1986
  12. Thinking Of Going 24-Track? Sound On Sound, Jul 1986
  13. Software Tracking Electronics & Music Maker, Sep 1986
  14. Doctor! Doctor! Sound On Sound, Mar 1986
  15. MoPro Atari 520ST MIDI Software Electronics & Music Maker, Apr 1986
  16. The Musical Micro International Musician & Recording World, Jun 1986
  17. C-Lab Creator Sound On Sound, Nov 1987
  18. C-Lab Creator Music Technology, Dec 1987
  19. Dr T Keyboard Controlled Sequencer Music Technology, Mar 1987
  20. Dr T's Keyboard Controlled Sequencer Sound On Sound, Jul 1987
  21. Hybrid Arts MIDITrack ST Music Technology, Jun 1987
  22. Iconix MIDI Sequencer Sound On Sound, Jun 1987
  23. Iconix Software Music Technology, Aug 1987
  24. Super Conductor Sound On Sound, Aug 1987
  25. Microdeal Super Conductor Music Technology, Jan 1988
  26. MIDI Files Music Technology, Jan 1989
  27. Protocol Micro Music, Jan 1990
  28. Standard MIDI Files Sound On Sound, Feb 1992
  29. C-Lab Notator Sound On Sound, Sep 1988
  30. C-Lab Creator And Notator Music Technology, Feb 1989
  31. C-Lab Creator Micro Music, Jun 1989
  32. Steinberg Pro24 III Music Technology, Jul 1988
  33. Steinberg Pro24 Version III Sound On Sound, Aug 1988
  34. Dr T's Midi Recording Studio Music Technology, May 1988
  35. Hybrid Arts SmpteTrack Sound On Sound, Apr 1988
  36. Intelligent Music M Music Technology, Mar 1988
  37. Intelligent Music Sound On Sound, Aug 1988
  38. Alternative Instruments Sound On Sound, May 1989
  39. Bit by Bit MIDIDrummer Music Technology, Feb 1988
  40. MIDIsoft Studio Music Technology, Nov 1988
  41. Steinberg Cubase Music Technology, Aug 1989
  42. Steinberg Cubase Music Technology, Sep 1989
  43. Steinberg Cubase Sound On Sound, Aug 1989
  44. Clash of the Titans Micro Music, Oct 1989
  45. Cubase In-depth Micro Music, Jan 1990
  46. Virtuoso Sound On Sound, Sep 1989
  47. TDM Virtuoso Music Technology, Oct 1989
  48. Virtuoso In-Depth Micro Music, Dec 1989
  49. Intelligent Music Realtime 1.1 Music Technology, Apr 1989
  50. Feels so Real Micro Music, Jun 1989
  51. RealTime Intelligent Sequencer Sound On Sound, Aug 1989
  52. The Final Cut Sound On Sound, Jul 1989
  53. Master or Servant Micro Music, Apr 1989
  54. Bit By Bit MIDIDrummer Music Technology, Jun 1989
  55. MIDIDrummer Sound On Sound, Jun 1989
  56. Hollis Research Trackman Music Technology, Mar 1989
  57. The Trackman Cometh Micro Music, Aug 1989
  58. Trackman Sequencer Sound On Sound, Nov 1988
  59. Trackman Sequencer Sound On Sound, Dec 1988
  60. Steinberg Cubase v1.5 Music Technology, Apr 1990
  61. Cubase 2.0 Sound On Sound, Dec 1990
  62. The Digital Muse Prodigy Music Technology, Apr 1990
  63. Tiger Feet Micro Music, Mar 1990
  64. Dr.T's Tiger Sound On Sound, Mar 1990
  65. Dr T's Tiger Music Technology, Jun 1990
  66. Dr.T's Tiger Cub Sound On Sound, Jun 1990
  67. Dr T's Tiger Cub Music Technology, Nov 1990
  68. Sequencer One Micro Music, Mar 1990
  69. Gajits Sequencer One Music Technology, Mar 1990
  70. Passport Trax Music Technology, Dec 1990
  71. C-Lab Creator/Notator V3 Music Technology, Mar 1991
  72. C-Lab Notator V3.0 Sound On Sound, Apr 1991
  73. C-Lab Notator 3.0 Sound On Sound, May 1991
  74. Dr T'S KCS Omega Music Technology, Dec 1991
  75. Hybrid Arts SMPTETrack Gold Music Technology, Sep 1991
  76. Hybrid Arts EditTrack Gold ST Sequencer Sound On Sound, Sep 1991
  77. C-Lab Creator/Notator 3.1 Music Technology, Jan 1992
  78. Back On Top? Sound On Sound, Mar 1992
  79. Steinberg Cubase 3.0 Sound On Sound, Apr 1992
  80. Steinberg Cubase 3.0 Sound On Sound, May 1992
  81. TDM Rave Music Technology, Jul 1992
  82. Emagic Notator Logic Music Technology, Aug 1993
  83. Roni Music Sweet 16 Music Technology, Dec 1993
  84. M/A/R/R/S Music Technology, Nov 1987
  85. Bass Studies Music Technology, Oct 1988
  86. A Night In The Studio Music Technology, Feb 1989
  87. Made in Heaven Music Technology, May 1989
  88. Message In A Sample Music Technology, May 1993
  89. What's That Noise? Music Technology, Aug 1990
  90. Classic Tracks: Fatboy Slim "Praise You" Sound On Sound, Jan 2017
  91. Past, Present and Future Music Technology, Aug 1992
  92. Future Talk Music Technology, Jan 1994
  93. Deep Vibrations Music Technology, Aug 1991
  94. @iamclintmansell Twitter, Apr 2020 "Headache music..my rig was MC-303, with AKAI S1000, an Atari 1040 running Creator which would become Logic. As far gear went this was my set up, & a Roland JV 880. I’d had a Nord Lead too but it got burned out when lightning hit our building & I couldn’t afford to get it fixed."
  95. Tune In, Turn On, Chill Out Music Technology, Jun 1991
  96. The Magic Circle Music Technology, Jun 1993
  97. Music of Spheres Sound On Sound, Apr 1994
  98. All Systems Go Music Technology, Oct 1991
  99. Age of Chance Music Technology, Jun 1990
  100. The Heart Of The Bass Music Technology, Nov 1990
  101. William Orbit Sound On Sound, Oct 1991
  102. Selected ambient words The Mix, Sep 1994
  103. user18081971 SoundCloud, Oct 2020 "@c_r_y_s_t:pretty sure it was Dr T's Tigercub on the Atari ST...software you hardly ever hear about."