Nova3 – Generative Sequencer VST

Nova3 is a VST 2.4 Generative Sequencer plugin inspired by Otomata. The plugin is for Windows only, and includes an x32 and x64 version.


Some Videos to show it in action:

Download latest here: Nova3 alpha08

Previous Version 07 here: Nova3 alpha07

Previous version 06 here: Nova3 alpha06

66 thoughts on “Nova3 – Generative Sequencer VST

  1. I totally love Nova!!!
    Thank you so much.
    Only downside is, that I seem to get a lot of “missing notes”. Often it works for a while, then nothing comes out for a time and then it works again.
    Also the note length seems to be unstable.
    This is with Alpha 5 & 6.
    Any idea what could be wrong?
    This is in Ableton Live as well as in Prosonus S1 2.
    Sorry if this should be user fault… 😉

    Cheers and thanks,


    • Tom,

      These could be issues with Nova3 related to how it expects the host to report current time to the plugin. I don’t have Ableton or Studio One (I test in Reaper) so it would be difficult for me to debug and fix. Here are a couple of things to check if you have not already done so:

      For the note length, check that Length Jitter (Len Jitt) is 1.0 and Humanize (Human) is 0.0.

      For the missing notes, make sure the Note Probability (Note P) is 0 and tilt is 0.50. Check that the sequencer does not have steps marked for mute and does not have active steps with zero velocity. Check that the range of velocity + velocity jitter + sequencer velocity results in velocities greater than 0. Check that the simplify value (Simple knob) is 1 so that every note generated is output.

      If all that checks out and you are still missing notes and having timing problems then it is likely a bug in Nova3. I don’t know if there is much I can do in that case but please let me know how you get on.


  2. Thanks for the feedback Bill!
    I checked your suggestions (I guess you meant setting Note P to 1?), that are the settings I have been using, so I guess it is something else, since for a while it works very well, but when Nova is running for a longer time, sooner or later it seems to get stuck when it’s in the background. Often in Live, it helps to open the GUI and it comes back alive, but in Studio One I actually see the interface freeze every now and then for several minutes even when open.
    So I wonder if there is possibly some kind of “accumulation error”? Or something to do with it being in the background?
    I usually have 4-10 dots running…
    S1 as well as Live both have 30-day demos if that would help you finding the bug?
    Let me know if I can help otherwise.
    (Just tested again: it’s the same with beta 5 and 6)

    Thanks a lot,


  3. Hi tonecarver,

    any chance for a fix for the non-working note length jitter or the other length variation enhancements we talked about (like having a length setting per bot, that is set on creation and is kept over the bots lifetime).

    I’m so in love with Nova 🙂

    Thanks and cheers,


    • Hi Tom,

      Sorry for the long overdue reply …

      The latest version of Nova3 has the fix for the note length jitter so hopefully that will work for you. Adding individual note lengths would be cool, and I have a few other ideas that I would like to add in eventually, but time is scarce so all I can say for now is .. maybe someday .. 🙂


  4. hi,
    i just cant get a sound out of it….edited ini file and i use ableton live as daw. generated 1 midi track for nova and 1 for synth(midi in from nova)
    any help ???

    cheers greg

    • Hi Greg,

      Nova3 does not make any sound on its own, it just generates MIDI that you route to a synth to make the actual sounds. Have you added one or more rovers? Are the rovers moving? They only move while the transport is running so if try that if you haven’t already. Let me know how you get on.


    • I also use Ableton Live, your basic setup sounds right, but there are two things you have to do in the receiving track to make it work:
      First, as you already did, the synth track needs to receive the midi from the nova track.
      But you not only have to set the input type (the upper dropdown) to your nova track, but also the one below it, called Input Channel. There you have Pre FX, Post FX and Nova32, and you need to select the latter to receive the midi.
      And finally, the receiving track needs it’s input to be active, so I usually set it to “In” instead of “Auto” or “Off”, otherwise the input from Nova doesn’t reach it.You could also set it to “Auto” and activate the red record button for the track, but I usually want the synth tracks to always receive the input from nova, so I set it to “In” to be sure it works.

      I hope this helps!


  5. Love the VST, got it running in FL Studio- but have had some issues with recording the MIDI data.

    Anyways, I was wondering if there was any way you could (or maybe even I) make some kind of support for Novation Launch Pad? Was really looking forward to using it live or something cool like that. Email me if this would be possible.


      • Well, maybe you could have the 8×8 grid on the launchpad show the location of the rovers (and maybe if the Nova matrix is bigger than 8×8 there would be no launchpad support?). Then, the top row of buttons on the launchpad could be like buttons that would change what you can select on the side row? Like have one top button be rovers, another a set of obstacles, ect. Then the side row would select which rover/obstacle, and then you can place them by clicking anywhere you want it in the 8×8 grid.

        You wouldn’t really be able to tell what is linked to what on the launchpad- but i don’t know, maybe a small launchpad wrapper could be made that lets you assign rovers/obstacles to buttons? or maybe just an image that shows you the key mappings?

      • Hmm .. interesting ideas. The lauchpad is controlled by sending midi to it so it would certainly be possible to add some custom interactions between Nova3 and the launchpad, but, it would take some internal coding changes to add the support to Nova3, I do not have a launchpad to work with, and my time to program things is scarce these days so, though technically feasible, it would not be something I could see happening anytime soon. 😦 Cool ideas though. I’ll keep them in mind for future updates.

  6. Hi, I just downloaded Nova3, and love the results I’m getting, however, I don’t know if I’ve installed it correctly ? When you say “Edit” the Midi and Scale folders, what exactly do you mean ? I copied the addresses of the Midi and Scale files (full name) into the spaces provided that looked like quote marks ? “” Below those it just said “same folder as” ..etc etc.
    On the actual user interface, I have a series of “user presets” and some numbers, there are no scales listed, is this correct ? It seems to be working OK, I haven’t done anything like this before, so would appreciate your comments as to whether I have actually installed it correctly.? And thank’s for such a beautiful program !


    • Gene,
      It sounds like you have edited the configuration file correctly. To make sure, let’s load a scale file.

      To load a new scale, click the little green triangle in the lower middle-right of the plugin screen. It is to the right of the Mute controls, between the large empty rectangle and the scale name which would be showing as “Default” if you have not changed the scale. (I know this is not at all obvious .. it’s on the to do list to improve scale loading if I ever get around to making an update). Clicking the triangle should open a file explorer dialog that starts in the directory defined by the ScaleFolder setting in the configuration file. If the directory is not the one you entered in the configuration file then either the configuration file is not in the same folder as the DLL, or the ScaleFolder setting has a typo, or … not sure, we would have to investigate further.

      After loading a scale file successfully the new scale name (file name) should be displayed to the right of the green triangle.


  7. Thank’s for the reply Bill, here are the contents of the installation folder as i entered it….

    ; Nova3 initialization file

    ScaleFolder “C:\Program Files\Steinberg\VstPlugins\Nova\scales”
    ;ScaleFolder C:\Program Files\Steinberg\VstPlugins\Nova\scales

    MidiMap “C:\Program Files\Steinberg\VstPlugins\NovaMidiMap.txt”
    ;MidiMap C:\Program Files\Steinberg\VstPlugins\NovaMidiMap.txt
    ;MidiMap C:\Program Files\Steinberg\VstPlugins\NovaMidiMap.txt

    LowestOctave 0 ; start with C0
    ;LowestOctave -1 ; start with C-1
    ;LowestOctave -2 ; start witt C-2

    I get the explorer box, then I navigate to the VST folder, but that folder doesn’t seem to be the default when explorer pops up ?

    Thank’s again….


  8. Hi, you made a great vst! But isn’t there a way to disable the bouncing when rovers collide? There should be an option that rovers ignor each other, so we have much more freedom for melodys.

  9. Hi, congratulations, your applications are amazing !

    I´m creating an application to send midi messages to my keyboard, but my interface is too poor !

    Could you share some ideas with me ? Please, what lib do you use to create your applications interfaces ?

    The graphics are ok, I´m using photoshop, but I dont know how to handle the images to create customs knobs, faders…

    Thanks in advanced.

    • Thanks!
      For the interface I recommend and . Freeware, very easy to use for basic stuff and they can do more complicated things as you become more familiar with them. Also, you will find lots of good info and VST/DSP development tips in general at the .

      Have fun!

  10. Instrumentos de música autogenerativa. Tu le das un idea a la máquina (por ejemplo cuatro notas y/o un ritmo cortos y la maquina empieza a milcombinarla. en sus multiples commutaciones y permutaciones algo se empieza a mover. cada vez mas complicado. O , al contrario, mas simple. Con cuatro o cinco directrices la máquina hace una música con vida propia. Se mueve sola. Pero,si escuchas atento, veras que lo que suena tiene MUCHO que ver con lo que le pediste a los engranajes. Por muy inesperado que sea el resultado..Los caminos de la inspiracion son inexcrutables. Nunca sabes donde se esconde una idea.Extraños caminos para las artes

  11. Pingback: 4 Free VSTs to spice up your productions

  12. Works very well indeed – so far very stable in both Sonar and Cubase.

    Although I’ve used a number over the years, I’m not a great fan of generative / algorithmic music software…just NOT enough user control in so many cases.


    Nova3 is a very different beast:

    1) I find it very intuitive in use – initially had it up and running in minutes.

    2) It’s potential for user control / automation is really excellent…in Sonar I created a basic matrix and then developed it / tweaked it over a 5 minute piece to create music with a clearly defined shape and structure.

    3) This of course can then be further developed by adding on ideas from other VSTs!

    Great fun!
    Great depth and flexibility!
    Highly recommended!!!

    • Hi,

      I think the Norton scanner is showing you a false positive. Most of the anti-virus software companies have a way to send in a file to them to report a false positive .. perhaps you could send them the file and they can confirm that it is a false positive. If for some reason they claim it is a true problem then please let me know. These DLLs are built with care from the ground up and should have no virus or malware issues. Thanks for bringing it to my attention, please let me know how it goes.

  13. I used this last year with no problem. I have since upgraded from Sonar X1 to X2 and when I try to add the dll to my vst folder Norton goes nuts; says its not safe (big red letters) and removes it. What’s up with that?

  14. This is an absolutely awesome plugin. It’s super fun to layer a few instances of it and let it do it’s thing. I wonder what it would sound like if you could define chords for the wall sections

  15. Just wanted to add a note of thanks for all the work you put in on this excellent plugin. It has helped me a great deal in getting away from traditional song writing and into creating music on the fly.. Beginning to experiment with combining novas ability to evolve patterns with looping instruments with mobius… There goes the home improvements. Many thanks


  16. I can not for the life of me figure out how to get this working in FL Studio
    please post tutorial or something
    i’ve tried setting input and output ports to the synth and Nova 3 in the wrapper settings and it’s not doing anything. thanks

    • I do not have any experience in FL Studio so cannot offer any direct help. (sorry) Have you tried asking at the FL Studio forum? There are probably people there who can get you going.

  17. @Kevin:
    With regard to setting up the ‘MIDI OUT’ of a VST plugin and routing it to another sound source, FL Studio does NOT work in the same way as most other DAWs…it’s very straightforward in Logic, Cubase, Sonar.

    There is a ‘workaround’ in FL Studio,but it’s NOT simple, I warn you.

    This should help:

    Told you it was tricky! :0)

    The simple truth is the more advanced VST facilities in FL Studio are not quite up at the same level of sophistication as certain other DAWs.

    • Interesting work. I am not a visual artist but I recently discovered Processing ( and have begin exploring some algorithmic visual experiments. Fun stuff indeed.

  18. Hi Bill,

    Just like your great tc_stretch before, the plugin settings here are not saved with a Cubase project so to me the plugin is useless (useless sounds very negative; it’s not meant that way). I’m not expecting you to fix it immediately (I’m not sure if I will use this although it’s quite tempting). Just letting you know…


    • Thanks for letting me know. I have not been doing much coding lately … but if I ever get back around to looking into Nova3 again, I will try to fix the parameter saving problems. Cheers.

  19. Hi,

    Despite using Nova off and on for a couple of years and really appreciating it I still get confused with regard to scales and the root note controls which are at D4 . I understand from reading the help files that the scales in the folder have the root note defined and looking at the text in the scale files I see many of these are set to C. I’m confused by the D4 on the Root Pitch controls and the relationship between these and the scales once they are loaded and how changing them effects the notes. Does the D4 relate only specifically to the default scale??

    Thanks again for this excellent vst that I am currently using with The Zodiac Kontakt instrument from Big Fish Audio that was a great bargain in the Black Friday exrevaganza!!

    • The scale definitions use note names , ‘C’, ‘D’, ‘E’, etc., as a convenient way to define the _relative_ pitches in the scale. When a scale is loaded the first note in the scale is assigned to the Root Pitch selected on the GUI (example, D4) and the other notes in the scale are adjusted relative to that. For example, if a scale definition is C, D, E (root pitch, root pitch+2, root pitch+4) and the root pitch is D4, then the scale is mapped to D4, E4, F#4. Changing the Root Pitch to F5 maps the played notes to F5, G5, A5. Hope that helps 🙂

  20. Hi,

    at first thank you for this really inspiring and innovative plugs !

    Maybe a dumb question but I just cant figure out how it reacts on incoming midi notes ? Is it possible to use like for example Nora, Cthulhu, Kirnu or just generates notes for itself independend of midi track/incoming midi notes ?

    Same question goes for the other (midi) VST on this page, I have tried windchimes and thought it will react on incoming notes but just not sure.


  21. Loving Nova! Just one quibble – my eyes aren’t as young as they were and I can barely make out the obstacles both in the palette and on the grid.

    I’d like to increase their size and contrast – is there any way to edit the GUI without breaking something?


    • Thanks! I hear you about the obstacle sizes .. (I have to squint myself to see them. They seemed larger and a lot more visible a few years ago 🙂 ).

      The Nova gui needs an overhaul. I’ve thought about different ways to re-organize the controls so that the grid area could be larger but I haven’t been in the coding mood lately, so any improvements would be a ways off I’m afraid. I heard mention of the Windows Magnifier in a music forum the other day. I haven’t tried it myself but some people seem to find it useful. If I do ever get around to making an update to Nova I will post it here. Cheers.

    • Thanks. It is a safe assumption that I won’t be making any updates for the near future. Maybe someday, but it depends on available time, motivation, and other projects competing for my attention 🙂 Cheers.

    • Thanks .. I have started a few other projects but have not finished anything yet. Programming plugins can take a lot of time (a whole lot of time) depending on how complicated the plugin internals are, so it takes some strong motivation to spend the time to push something to completion. I do think about new projects and have ideas for making improvements to the current plugins, but the time/motivation is lacking to get in there and do the work to make them happen.

      These days my interests are divided between noodling around to make music ( and playing with alcohol inks ( The inks in particular are very interesting to work with and I find them to be quite a relaxing pastime. 🙂

      • Thanks for reply. es. Like your Transformer. Curiously when i start mix my guitar in the song, in this just second the subtle yours (guitar) start in … simil cadences. “After the rain” also gives me a moment.
        I am impressed when suit your link to Alcohol inks and discover Kathy Bunn
        Really thanks for reply.

      • Also I really believe you looking the complexity of your plugins. I can’t calibrate the time and energy you invest in…. for free plugins. I want to say you. Really appreciate. Million thanks man.

  22. Finally found the way to record MIDI Out in Reaper. Thank you for this inspiring beast! There is a lot to learn left☺

  23. Does this plugin use Qt? I can’t get Ableton to detect it no matter what I try, and I read elsewhere that any dependencies must also be in the VstPlugins folder.

    • No, it dos not use QT. It does not have any external dependencies. Are you using the same word size as Ableton (i.e., 32 bit vs 64 bit)? Are the support files (nova3.ini, NovaMidiMap.txt, scales folder) next to the dll? Hope that helps .. if not then there may be folks at the Ableton forum that could offer solutions.

      • Thanks for the reply, I ensured all those things and still can’t get it working. It’s not just this VST and seems to be a commonly reported problem in 64bit Ableton so I might have to do some debugging.

  24. I’m loving Nova, excellent work! Just a couple of things:

    1. Would it be possible to direct notes on each wall to a selected channel? I’ve worked around this by putting each wall on a separate octave and then mapping the resulting note range (in Reaper) to a different channel, but it would be nice to not have to do that.

    2. Is there a way to place or remove rovers and obstacles via midi? Removing rovers is probably too hard but the other three options would be great.

    • Thanks for the suggestions. Assigning a midi channel to each wall is a good idea and fairly straightforward to implement. Updating rovers and obstacles by midi would be much more difficult though. I’ll keep your ideas in mind for future features. At the moment I am swamped with other things, so no telling when, or if, they would ever make in into Nova3. Thanks! 🙂

      • Thanks for your reply. I completely understand if you’re swamped (been there myself before) – would you be interested in either making the plugin open source or just sharing the code with me so I can have a go at the required changes and send them to you?

  25. Hi, First of all. Thanks for the innovative software! i’m using the NOva3 sequencer and it’s amazing. Do you have any manual by any chance? or anything that explains the different functions. Also i’m having a problem, that the rovers instead of staying in their respective column or row and just reflect itself back on the same column/row.. they skip a row and column. The youtube videos that you have they don’t do this. How can i stop them from doing that ? how do i keep my rovers in the same column/row? Thanks

  26. Hi. For the manual, have a look at the Nova-3-readme.txt file – that describes the various functions and controls. For the rovers, see the section on ‘Climb Sliders’. There are 4 sliders, one for each wall, that determine how far a rover moves (or “climbs”) when it strikes a wall. When the climb slider for a wall is 0 the rover reflects back in the same row/column. A non-zero value causes the rover to move to a different row/column. So, if you set all the climb sliders to 0 the rovers should stay in their respective rows/columns when reflecting.

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