The producer’s guide to arps, riffs and sequences

In the ’80s, developments in music programming inspired a whole new way of writing and producing music. Drum machines, after steadily creeping into pop for a while, were suddenly everywhere, as were sequenced melodic patterns from indefatigable synths. Was this the death knell for homegrown, organic musicians as we knew them? Far from it.

Although emerging artists who embraced music programming tech at the time faced disapproval from bewildered forebears (and who doesn’t?), this evolution in music-making methodology only gathered pace from then on. Programming music used to require you to have some form of either analogue or digital hardware, but the wide world of computers and DAWs soon turned all that on its head. Today, almost every artist programs their music, mostly in a broader sense through the use of MIDI in a DAW, but also using dedicated software sequencers and arpeggiators that function in similar ways to the equipment of the past. 

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