Software sequencer suited to limited mobility?
November 16, 2014 5:23 PM   Subscribe

I've been making music with FL Studio since it was still FruityLoops. I have a progressive physical disability that now limits my mobility severely enough that FL Studio's interface is unfeasible: I can barely use my right mouse button, and moving my mouse cursor frequently from one side of the screen to the other is time-consuming. I can still use an on-screen keyboard.

In sum I need DAW/sequencer/tracker software that I can at least mostly control with the left mouse button/keyboard. No live sequencing please--I can't do that kind of timing. OS X is preferred, but I can virtualize Linux/Win7. VST support would really ice the cake, because I have a good set of plugins, some of which I paid for. Finally, FOSS makes my conscience feel good, but I'm willing to pay if I have to. Thanks in advance--I know I'm asking for a lot!
posted by gabrielbenjamin to Technology (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I wonder if something that remaps input on your computer, like Karabiner, would be useful.
posted by limeonaire at 5:44 PM on November 16, 2014

Have you considered using Ableton with a controller?
posted by oceanjesse at 6:03 PM on November 16, 2014

Response by poster: @limeonaire: If I can remap the right button to something else (some key combo) that Windows will understand, FL Studio might juuust be workable again. I've searched along this avenue without success, but I never came across Karabiner. Can it do such a remap? (I'm currently R-ing TFM, but if you're familiar...)

@oceanjesse: If I introduce another controller into the mix, I'm taking the risk that I can't use it, so I'm not totally ruling it out, but I am a little reluctant. As for Ableton, it seems a bit geared toward live input and performance to me, and features of that kind are kind of lost on me. Am I mistaken?
posted by gabrielbenjamin at 7:14 PM on November 16, 2014

Perhaps Renoise which is a little unusual but definitely keyboard-friendly. It's also really easy to slowly enter one note at a time, or go back and change things. There's customizable shortcuts including the ability to tab focus between the different parts of the interface. It has VST support. Downside is, you're essentially stuck on a quantized grid (although with arbitrary delay per note). It's not FOSS but it is made by demoscene people.
posted by vogon_poet at 7:49 PM on November 16, 2014

Ohhh, I think I misread. Karabiner is for Mac OS X. Key Remapper might be useful on Windows. I haven't used it, though.
posted by limeonaire at 8:01 PM on November 16, 2014

This came with its own mapping software. Similar things are available from other vendors in arrangements of up to three foot switches e.g. scythe. I use it as a single button to lock the screen (windows key + L) on top of my desk.
The USB foot switch is cheap, if you are able to pay more there are foot mice, mice that you hold vertically, touch pads, and other mouse replacements available.
posted by mmkhd at 11:12 PM on November 16, 2014

FL Studio now accepts stylus/tablet inputs, is that something that would work with your mobility issues?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:40 PM on November 17, 2014

Response by poster: @vogon_poet [like the handle, BTW]: Renoise fits the bill. It's just a little annoying that the license doesn't include lifetime free upgrades. It's the market norm, so I'm surprised they can turn a profit. Do you use it? If so: How long do they take to get to the next major version? How much is the re-up?

@limeonaire: Tried Key Remapper. It doesn't play nice with my on-screen keyboard. Now that I know the category of utility I'm looking for, I've got several alternatives I can investigate. Thanks!

@mmkhd: How heavily do you have to press that foot switch? I have a foot switch that I use to call my aide, so I know I have the range of motion, but I have extremely limited strength.

@feckless [you must be a hit at parties]: That's a cool feature, but no go. I use a trackball exclusively.
posted by gabrielbenjamin at 7:18 PM on November 18, 2014

Response by poster: It turns out that my on-screen keyboard software has an adequate workaround for the right mouse button. It's a little slower, as it involves dwelling instead of a standard click, but it will at least allow me to work with FL Studio while I explore my options in remapping and other composition software. I think Renoise or another tracker is my best bet because of the historical association with text consoles.

Thanks to you all! I didn't immediately solve my problem with your suggestions, but they will be very useful in the future.
posted by gabrielbenjamin at 9:46 PM on November 21, 2014

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