“It looks alien at first, it looks scary … [but] it’s like, here’s your paper; be creative.” “A tracker basically turns your computer an instrument.” -Dac Chartrand, Renoise, trying to explain Renoise to those who haven’t yet gotten religion

Renoise 2.5 is here, for real – not a beta, a nice, golden, final release. The modern take on a tracker now introduces a set of features that takes it to a new level of usability:

  • The Pattern Matrix finally combines the inside-out precision of tracker arrangement with a big, birds-eye view of your music – and some people are already hacking it into a live performance instrument.
  • Smarter signal routing across tracks and through “meta devices,” along with clever inventions like the “Signal Follower,” give you sidechaining and more.
  • Render Plug-ins to instruments, samples – the resource-saving advantages of freezing tracks, but without sacrificing any playability.
  • Enhanced MIDI mapping, internal effects, more.

None of these additions is like to make Renoise a mainstream hit, but then, that’s not the point. What it could do is expand Renoise’s already passionately-loyal user base to a new crowd, and encourage users to find expressive new ways of producing music with computers at a time when some of those processes have become stale. Thanks to its recent support for ReWire (plus JACK on Linux), it also doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice what you love about your host of choice; it can be part of your existing workflow.

Renoise’s new Pattern Matrix, a different take on how to view music, alongside the more traditional tracker view. The enhanced meta-instruments appear at bottom.

For more on what’s new, check out Neil Bufkin’s terrific video interview for CDM with Renoise’s Dac from NAMM, seen at top. That interview was popular enough to become an “electric acid jungle test” demo by Hitori Tori, below, sampling Dac’s initial quote before ripping into controlling Renoise with a clever mapping for the Livid Ohm 64. (Check out more Renoise-on-Ohm action on Hitori’s channel.)

Full feature list:
http://www.renoise.com/about/what-s-new-2-5/

Ready to dive in this weekend and start learning Renoise 2.5, for instance, making use of its fully-functioning demo? There’s a full set of revised beginners’ tutorials for 2.5, and they don’t assume any previous knowledge of trackers. (Hey, it’s okay — I sure didn’t own an Amiga.)

http://tutorials.renoise.com/wiki/Main_Page

This isn’t the end of the story with Renoise, however. Dac confirms to CDM that they are working on support for OSC and easy extension of Renoise’s capabilities through Lua scripting — even without any official promises, that’s exciting news. It could make Renoise easier and more powerful for control and customization.

http://www.renoise.com/

Previously: Renoise 2.5: A Matrix for Everything, Modulate Everything; Full Scripting, OSC Coming

  • rhowaldt

    waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

    i will be buying renoise, and, even though it will probably not make me more popular, i can tell you that it would be the first DAW i would not exploit illegally.

    I've used Reason, and i loved all of the routing-possibilities, and missed this feature in Renoise (like, i want the reverb-signal to send a gate to modulate the pitch-shift of the organ, but following a programmed pattern). From what i am reading, more of this stuff would be possible with Renoise 2.5 (correct me if i am wrong, or if this is already possible in version 2.0, and please tell me where to find it).

    This is great stuff. Thank you for the fast update. Can't wait for your test-results (assuming they are coming). Keep up the good work!

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    "Good enough not to pirate" – now that could be a new endorsement.

  • http://www.exodub.com Kyran

    There goes my sleep time this weekend.

    The pattern mixer is exactly what renoise needed for me: a decent visual way to arrange a song. It's amazing how they fitted this in without actually changing anything in the gui. Only the really talented can pull that stuff of.

  • clark

    Renoise is worth buying for the community, let alone all the great features.

  • radian

    Argh, sleep is for the weak, tracking is for the strong!!!

    Grab it now and join Iron Chef of Music on Sun.

  • http://www.savanttrigger.com Greg

    Renoise is a lovely application, one that successfully attempts to approach the musical user interface from a more efficient perspective.

    Perhaps this is more habit than anything else, but I notice that a lot of music made with trackers tends to be stylistically similar…like the acid in the second video. Lots of beat slicing and sampling, even though Renoise is cabable of a lot more. Perhaps one reason for this is that trackers aren't well suited for polyphony?

    One major exception is "From Here We Go To Sublime" by The Field, which as far as I know was produced in the Buzz Machine, another app with a tracker interface. So we see that trackers are capable of lots of different styles, but perhaps the tradition of the interface simply draws more acid and breakbeat than, say, house, trance, or pop. I'd love to see examples of trackers producing those.

  • Wilbo

    It only took me a few days of using ye olde Renoise 1.0 to pony up the minimal funds to buy it. Absolutely excellent. Can't wait to really put 2.5 through its paces.

  • Jeff Brown

    > trackers aren't well suited to polyphony

    Woah. That sounds like a big drawback. Is there then no view in which some dimension, horizontal or vertical, represents pitch? If you wanted to encode, say, a paino solo, would you need to use ten parallel tracks, one for each finger?

  • Vehical Driver

    I love Renoise… I just worry it is going to get big and bloated and too complicated, like Ableton Live has become.

  • pmags

    Actually Renoise (at least the most recent versions) support polyphony just fine. See the "New Note Action" (NNA) setting under sample properties:

    http://tutorials.renoise.com/wiki/Instrument_Sett

  • rhowaldt

    @Jeff Brown: you use parallel tracks for notes played at the same time, but a piano solo can be recorded on a single track, and you have control over the action by (as noted by pmags) the NNA-setting.

    I think it might be possible to do some stuff with delays, so you can play chords on the same track, but, why would you?

  • Jeff Brown

    When you say you can record a piano solo, do you mean MIDI, or audio? If you record polyphonic MIDI onto a track, can you then edit the individual notes? Would you have to break it into multiple tracks to edit them?

    Do I understand correctly that there's a visual way to determine the rhythmic relation between notes, since a spatial dimension represents time — but no spatial dimension represents pitch, so there's no visual way to determine pitch relationships?

    I saw a video of someone putting together a breakbeat in Renoise, and the workflow looked wonderful — intuitive and fast. But he very pointedly didn't do anything with pitch, let alone harmony. Implicitly, it sounds like the lack of a visual pitch representation is touted as a feature, but it sounds like an overwhelming drawback to me.

  • Jimi

    @ Jeff Brown

    Yes, you can play and compose polyphonically. The best way to do this is to have several note columns within a given track. You can then edit notes individually. AFAIK Renoise is unique among trackers in allowing tracks to contain multiple columns, and you can have as many or as few as you need.

    You're right that pitch is not represented visually along an axis as with a piano roll. Pitch is read directly as text (e.g. "C#-4") instead.

    I'm not sure that this is an "overwhelming drawback" though. Plenty of people use Renoise for complex melody and harmony. If you're unsure of how it works in practice, do download the demo and load up one of the example songs.

  • Human Plague

    Not sure where this idea that Renoise can't compose melodies comes from. Just because the kids use it to make breakcore doesn't mean that's all trackers are good for? Check out this composer, IT-Alien, a well known member of the Renoise scene. He's all about the melodies. Scroll down and click play: http://www.napodano.com/lb/

  • Jim Aikin

    Columns of numbers don't scare me. My first MIDI sequencer was Dr. T's KCS (on the Atari ST, and if you're under 25, this was before you were born). KCS was totally about columns of numbers and interactive QWERTY control.

    That said…. As I watched the videos of the Renoise workflow, I found myself thinking, "You know, I could do the same beat in FL Studio 9 in about half the time, and without that constant annoying thing where it backs up to the top of the pattern."

    I don't want to try to do a qualified A/B comparison based on watching a video or two — please take this as an offhand comment, not as a real critique. I'd love to have a chance to really learn Renoise! But maybe instead, I'll go make some music with the technology I already have.

  • üav

    Renoise user since one year now, still amazed by the all the things you can get from it, can't wait for the OSC support and LUA scripting.

  • http://nickstutorials.com Nick Maxwell

    Excellent post. 2.5 looks like just the ticket for reconsidering whether to invest the time to learn Trackers. There's something about Renoise that keeps me coming back, but it never sticks for me.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    @Jim: Well, actually, I think it's significant to say that FL really is a quasi-tracker, a hybrid of the tracker and other methods. So in some ways, it's most appropriate to compare FL to Renoise.

    Some folks can be very quick in Renoise, though; some of that could be your experience level. But that makes this comparison even more interesting.

  • Human Plague

    I was thining about this last night, trackers are actually "new", not old.

    If you look at the history of producing music, you have analogue studios, 4-tracks, tapes, synths…

    Then you had quirky homebrewed computer music, a lot of trackers and hardcore data on the screen going on at this time in history.

    Then you had software that emulated the functionality of 4-tracks, tapes, synths.. all the way down to elaborate graphics mimicing their look

    Now we have stuff like FL Studio, Live, Renoise, and a slew of of others revisiting the idea of what it means to make computer music on a computer.

    Interesting times.

  • Future Dads

    @Human Plague: Oddly enough, there's a tracker named ReVisit.

  • Zoopy

    FUCK this program is sexy…

  • Matt

    @Jimi. Actually that is not true. Buzz has been polyphonic columns in tracks since at least 1999.

  • alpha

    Shits amazing, ima dive into it and buy myself a copy.. and good instructional videos out there?

    going to be starting from ground zero.

  • aidan

    google kaneel on youtubes for some gettin started vids.

    really, you should be up and running in about a half an hour with the basics. the pattern commands will come in their own time. the 2.5 gui also has a handy list of commands easily accessible from the main window…

  • http://www.chrismcguinness.com midihendrix

    It's funny to watch this…

    Jeskola Buzz from 10 years ago had more advanced features than renoise. Maybe buzz is worth considering?….since the original developer has picked up work on it again in the last couple of years – check the changelog…

    http://www.jeskola.net http://www.buzzmachines.com

  • jasonmd2020

    Been using this since 1.9 when I was looking for stuff that works on a Linux platform. I've since moved back ti Windows (Traktor Scratch Pro doesn't have a linux version dammit.)

    @ Jeff Brown: Polyphonic MIDI recording is a no-brainer. At the bottom of the pattern window, you'll see a little keyboard button. Click on that be fore you record, and Renoise will automatically add extra note columns as you play within the track. I've recorded polyphonic MIDI phrases with no problems.

  • jasonmd2020

    Oh yeah. One other thing. If you buy a license, it's good for a full revision. I.E. I bought mine at ver 1.9 and get free upgrades until 2.9. Which has been about 3 years until 2.5 now!

  • hondo

    God, i remember Buzz. i used it for years and loved it. (though for me, it is a little difficult to get a rich sound with and the learning curve was as steep as mountain climbing.) i switched over to a Mac and started using Ableton live about a year ago. it took me awhile to get out of tracker mode into live's side scrolling, loop based arangement. i still miss the "sound tree" layout of connecting generators with effects.

  • tm

    and your computer wasn't an instrument before….? And now it's a better interface that isn't pretending to be anything else because it's….another program?

  • Future Dads

    Pretty sure it's implied that his comnputer has been an instrument since the days of the Amiga…

    "What is a Tracker?" was the question. And of course, the answer isn't radically different than any other music app. What did you expect?

  • http://discountwatchshop.biz Alesi

    Pretty sure it's implied that his comnputer has been an instrument since the days of the Amiga…

    "What is a Tracker?" was the question. And of course, the answer isn1t radically different than any other music app. What did y9u expect?;

  • http://woolyss.com/tracking.php jikoo

    The best one !!! I love it ! ;)