QWS is a MIDI sequencer program that runs on 32-bit versions of Microsoft Windows (that is, Windows 95 and upwards). QWS was written by James Bowden, a visually impaired computer programmer.
This is quite a remarkable story and just goes to show that impairments shouldn't really make a difference to the way you live your life. Like James you can still work on a computer, still find Mobile Broadband deals and even get into programming.
It all started some years ago when I bought a new soundcard which sadly wouldn't work with my existing DOS sequencer. It was then that I had to switch to a Windows sequencer, but which one?
Being visually impaired, it is vital that programs I use are "accessible", that is, programs must be usable entirely from the keyboard and must work well with special software which "reads" the screen and turns it into synthetic speech ... yes, my computer talks to me!
I tried a commercial package - which shall remain nameless - and to cut a long story short, I just didn't get on with it. In my old DOS sequencer I was used to doing lots of fine editing, using lots of tools and above all, operating quickly. With this commercial Windows sequencer, none of this was possible ... unless you could use a mouse. In case anyone is wondering, yes, I did read the manual so I knew where the functions were.
Things came to a head when I had to use it to produce a backing track for a song. It took me ten hours! In that time I lost work twice, crashed the computer, recorded at the wrong positions and fretted many times about how slow the whole thing was (particularly for editing).
So that was it. I decided the way forward for me was to write a sequencer myself, from scratch.
I started work on QWS in March 2002 and development continues when I get inspired for a new feature or when someone points out a dreadful bug (bugs? surely not!).
I think the most exciting time in the development was the first time I pressed Record and then played on my keyboard. Then went back to the beginning and pressed play. The music played back! Then, being very daring, I made a second track and repeated the process. both tracks played together.
While I have not gone out of my way to make QWS work with access products, I have tried, where possible, to use standard Windows controls, so QWS should work well with access technology. Saying that, the interface should hopefully be fairly intuitive to use and you will find mouse as well as keyboard support in QWS.
Well, enough of the history, what can it do?
QWS is a MIDI sequencer; it should work with whatever soundcard you have installed on your system. QWS handles MIDI data, at present it does not do any waveform audio processing. So, for best results, you will need a MIDI keyboard connected to your computer. QWS also works with "software" synthesisers and soundfont devices, provided they look like standard MIDI devices in Windows.
QWS hopefully has most of the features you would want in a general sequencer: multiple tracks, record, play, step record, cut & paste, note & controller editors and a bunch of tools such as transpose, change velocity, time glide, quantise, ... to name just a few.
My advice would be, if you are looking for a MIDI sequencer, give QWS a try. It's easy to install - and if you don't need it, it's also easy to remove - though, of course, you wouldn't do that would you?
To download the latest version of QWS, go to the Downloads page.