Any Non-4/4 Sequencers?

I think the Squarp Pyramid is a good non-4/4 sequencer.

it’s supports both polymeter and polyrythm and each track can have different time signatures.
for me, its probably the Pyramid’s USP.
(interestingly it was dropped from the Hapax, as most users found it too confusing for everyday use… a good demonstration of why non-4/4 is less common I think)

sure, its still has 16 pads, but thats really just arbitrary… you can use 7 or 23
(in the same way humans tend to default to 10 , due to fingers, hardware seq go for 16)

In the Eurorack world, I think the Frap Tools USTA is very interesting…
why? because it does away with the concept of a STEP = a fixed time unit.
so you can have five steps, were the timing is 1, 2, 1, 3, 4
(its quite interesting to read the USTA manual , and how this approach maps to musical notation!)

again, its got 16 hardware encoders, but again only convention, you can have 5 or 17 steps…

overall with hardware, there you have to choose a number of steps/pads/encoders…
and why not use 16? its not like 10, or 17 is any better…
(ok, @chapelierfou teletype is hardware… but it doesn’t have a UI so doesn’t count :laughing:)

of course, on something like an iPad/VST, with only a virtual interface, that constraint is not there… but neither is the hands-on interaction :wink:

thinking about teletype, there are a few ‘hardware hybrids’ that make good sequencers, that are not bound by 4/4 conventions.
Monome Norms would be a good example in the standalone world.
and in the Eurorack world, I use the Percussa SSP, but you can also consider the ER301 or O&C.

all of these have the advantages of creative software , not bound by hardware controls/conventions, and give you a hardware solution, so something dedicated to task particularly with IO.
though by definition, also suffer the not quite-so hands on experience of software.

(*) there are many other interesting Eurorack sequencers… arguably eurorack is home of most creative sequencing, partly because you can play so freely with timing (as you can mess with clocks)

of course, things like VCVRack also have this same dynamic nature, so if you want creative non 4/4 sequencing in software, vcv is hard to beat!


The 8 corresponds to the number of voices on the Lyra-8, which it’s designed to sequence, not to the number of steps. It can also sequence the Pulsar-23, which has 4 voices, but this came later. The original design was mostly about creating something through which each of the Lyra-8’s voices COULD be triggered by something external (it has a very unusual/unique interface). Ornament-8 is completely free in how you patch together a chain of triggers in a sequence, and nothing in its interface leads you to patch a sequence that is a multiple of 4.

RE: your more general question, this is arguably the main domain of modular. I imagine most XOX style sequencers use multiples of four because it’s the dominant measure and you can easily use them for other time signatures by changing sequencer length.


The Polyend Tracker lets you make a sequence any number of steps so you can basically do whatever you want.

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I don’t know of any sequencers off the top of my head which are designed ouside of the 4/4 time signature.

However, every modern sequencer I can think of allows you to modify the time signature in one way or another. IF you are looking for differential sequencing (polyrhythm), that’s available in most odern sequencers as well.

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  • a good DAW
  • human/animal brain (insects, birds…)
  • mechanical solutions/repurposed machines (clock, turntable, laundry machine, other appliances…)

(So does the the sequencer of the 208/Music Easel, although I don’t know if that’s considered distinct)

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Any stepsequencer that allows for setting an arbitrary number of steps in a sequence does not enforce a “time-signature model” on the user. The controls are still typically rows of 4, 8 or 16 buttons or knobs, but any number of controls in a row is more convenient for some, and less convenient for other time-signatures.

Many circular sequencers (like MFOS, AMB or Future Retro Orb Sequencer still have 16 steps, so that won’t be much different.

What might help visualize some of the more obscure time signatures in a better way is a matrix of several rows like on the Nemo or Octopus. Here you can chain tracks and skip steps, that gives you 4 (or 9 in the case of the Octopus) vertically aligned bars of 1-16 steps. I am not aware of any other sequencer that can do that.

+1 for the Squarp Pyramid, it’s a clever little machine for the price, easy to master and full of inspiration.


0-ctrl. Nuff said.

Buchla Music Easel has 1,2,3,4,5 steps not rooted to any. I believe most numbers are divisible with these 5 numbers if you want unusual time signatures.

I’ve been using the Torso T1 sequencer recently. Technically it is defaulted to 16 steps and 4 bars, however, the step count can be anything from 1-64 steps per track, with 1-16 bars (called cycles) per, and the clock division can be anything from 1/1 to 1/64 and 1/3 to 1/48. You can change the clock division per step or per bar, and each bar can be any number of steps you’d like.

I guess the only issue I have is with so many possibilities and options, I have a hard time getting out of standard 4/4-feeling stuff, and because everything can be almost anything, there are times where it feels too chaotic.

That said, I’ve had it for a very short amount of time and it’s very powerful.


I don’t think I’ve come across the Octopus before. Beautiful.

If you’re into software, give the demo of Nodal a go. It’s mostly time signature agnostic.

Yes. But the machine is limited by some arbitrary design choices, and handbook is directly from hell, even more the one for the Nemo, that is the worst manual for any instrument I have ever seen.

I haven’t worked much with the Octopus, because I never owned one, but I’ve had a Nemo for quite some time, and while these machines do some things quite well, they are pretty limited by today’s standards (e.g. there’s only a single MIDI CC per track, but those can’t be modulated). The fact that you are pretty much on your own with a shitty manual, the odd way of naming some things (“hyperstep”, FFS) and the lack of a display (which forces you to remember so many things or constantly have the manual ready) makes for unnecessarily slow learning.

Some things are limited in an totally arbitrary way, and things that one thinks should work just don’t due to a weird way of implementing things (like you can’t transpose a track with another track, you can just transpose a step that starts at the exact same time the step in the transposing track starts, because any inter-track modulations are sent exactly on the beat and won’t affect shuffled steps, even if source step is shuffled, too). If you are into generative things that only affect pitch, velocity and note start/length, then it’s maybe worth a shot.

The octopus is easier to learn, because the UI is less crammed (more buttons mean single-function controls, and you can see and change all parameters of a page, track or step at the same time), but it shares the exact same limitations. Which is sad, because both could have been really great machines. Ah, well…

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@mo1806 just posted about an free software sequencer they created that’s similar to a Torso T1

Syntakt / Torso-Style Euclidian Sequencing with VCV

Maybe that’s interesting?

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Definitely interesting. Right now, my focus is on hardware (for live performances) but want to know what software options there are as well.

Just remembered Deluge has a triplets setting and Euclidean rhythms.

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Like what obscure robot said, binary is integral to electronics, so naturally 4,8,16 step sequencers are the simplest implementations. If you’re looking for something different, I’d recommend experimenting with modular.

While explicit non-4 step sequencers are rare, there are ways to just make whatever kind of sequencer you want with a collection of modules.
You could create a crazy sequencer with a random gate (think mutable branches), a voltage source (mutable blinds or befaco a*b+c), and some clock divider (I’d go with an nlc divide and conquer). Add some switches and a logic module and you’ll be flying!

If you don’t want to spend the money before trying it out first, take a look at vcv rack. It’s free open source virtual Modular system that has a great collection of modules that you can look into and mess with.

Another idea is getting a traditional sequencer with a reset function and finding interesting divisions and playing around with that.

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UI aside (button/knob count), if a sequencer has a reset input or function, it effectively has any step count you like. Of course then you as a user have to pretend the rest don’t exist. However, to limit the actual physical steps makes the sequencer LESS flexible as you’re ruling out other counts.

There would also be a huge minority of possible device sales, if in addition to 3, 5, 7, whatever, the sequencer couldn’t also do 8 or 16.

The Easel has a 5 step. And it’s absolutely wonderful! But I’d be lying if I thought it wouldn’t be more flexible with 8, and then reset on whatever count you want.

Besides that, it’s all in the noggin of the user, provided the flexibility to change length is there.

As others have said, look to modular. Look to voltage addressed sequencers for really crazy stuff.

But really, anything that can reset on a given step is the equivalent of what you want.

You just need to think differently.

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Squarp Hapax! You can set different time signature per project. It’s such a powerful sequencer.

Roland MC-4 and MC-202 allow easy non 4/4 stuff.
OP1 endless, tombola, sketch all do too.
Roland SH-101/01a and JX3p all have freeform note entry.
Tenori On has a number of sequencing methods not tied to 4/4.
Older hardware sequencers such as Yamaha QX/QY, Roland various models.
Plus tons of others such as those already mentioned.

They are out there but 4/4, is it is fair to say, is the most widely implemented.

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After reading your question and all of the answers here I still don’t understand what exactly you want or are missing with the existing gear and apps available, and what makes Elektron sequencers and alike awkward when used in different time signatures.

The only real limitation with the Elektron style sequencer that I’m aware of would be polyrhythms aside from 3:4 type of stuff. You can remedy this to a great degree by using polymetric patterns combined with the 3/4 seq speed and individual track lengths.

Some ipad apps are pretty good for a truly non 4/4 approach as the GUI can be adapted to any divisions you want but in hardware it would be pretty difficult and complicated if not unrealistic.