Renoise, the tracker-style music production host, has gotten a massive injection of customizability, scriptability, and hackability. If all you want to do is plug in some controller hardware and have more tangible control of music making, that scriptability can be nicely hidden away. But if you are ready to hack on your music app, this is some enormous news.

For that reason, Renoise 2.6 is being called even by its makers the “Renoise Geek Edition.” But if this hackability catches on, it could mean a music tool that’s more fun to use for everyone – not just scripting geeks.

2.6 has been released into a private beta for registered users, with the full release anticipated soon.

The video at top sums up why the open API is potentially a big deal for everyone. Right now, you can use a pre-built script for two-way integration of hardware like Novation’s Launchpad. As other folks get into the tools used here, though, that could (if hackers get so inspired) lead to lots of other hardware support and musical ideas.

The other big news, at the opposite end of the spectrum, is that longer samples now “autoseek.” That’s best seen in the video below, although I can put it this way – this means if your music isn’t all microsamples, you can now more easily produce and perform in Renoise.

Here’s my personal take on the 2.6 changes. Keep in mind, I’m just wrapping my head around this stuff, too, so take this with a grain of salt. But I can at least express why I’m excited about digging into this release, having followed these developments for some time:

Script everything – using a truly open API. Firefox has extensions. Renoise has Lua scripts. You can customize the user interface, manipulate musical elements in your song, control MIDI, audio, and OpenSoundControl, or actually dive in and create features Renoise doesn’t have yet. Those ready to code can use the elegant scripting language Lua, which means that – while you’ll definitely need some basic coding chops – the results are surprisingly simple and readable.

http://code.google.com/p/xrnx/

You don’t need a separate add-on product, and the API is fully documented, free, with a whole bundle of scripts and snippets under an open source MIT license. Renoise itself remains proprietary, but that means the scripts themselves are free to remix, and coders are free to distribute their work to all Renoise users.

That approach contrasts with the solution devised by Cycling ’74 and Ableton for Ableton Live. Live is not directly scriptable; the so-called “Live API” used by hackers was a set of private APIs. Max for Live provides some, but not all of this functionality, and it’s a paid add-on, so you can’t distribute your work to all Live users. On the other hand, the Lua scripting engine is just a scripting engine – it’s not the synth, sequencer, effect, and multimedia-processing platform that Max is. For some, that may actually make the simpler, more direct Lua interface more appealing; they’re just not directly comparable.

Two-way control of everything.

Using these scripting features, it’s possible to get much richer, two-way communication between control hardware and Renoise software.

That means one of two things:

You don’t care about code. No problem — grab control templates from a community of people who do care enough to hack things together. If you’ve got a Behringer BCF/BCR, Novation ReMOTE, Nocturn SL, or Launchpad, or Livid Ohm 64, you can get started right away. For everything else, watch for the community to fill in the gaps. (monome?)

You’re a coder. Dive in and make things work the way you want. What’s ground-breaking about what Renoise have done is that everything is built atop an open, extensible API for the software itself – rather than kludging together various protocols and tools, which has been the traditional industry solution (if you’re lucky, and there’s any customization at all). Renoise’s Duplex uses an object-oriented system for describing hardware and software and communicating events bi-directionally between them. It’s all built in the API, so it’s all customizable. There’s even an onscreen tool so you can mock-up interactions with hardware you don’t yet own (or haven’t yet built).

Everyone can share their work at a centralized site:

http://tools.renoise.com

OSC Support

Renoise joins MOTU Digital Performer, the open source DAW Ardour, and a host of visual apps that support full, native OSC. That means support for networked, transparent control from anywhere to anything. You can even send Lua scripts as OSC commands, so this new API is really controllable from anything.

Better Linux Support

Linux now adds DSSI plug-in support, bringing a full complement of Linux plug-in compatibility, as well as 64-bit Linux support.

More Support, Tweaks

Mac, Linux performance enhancements (especially on 64-bit Linux), and better support for hardware-based plugins (which I’m assuming means latency compensation) round out this update.

Needless to say, this is all something we’ll be covering more. Stay tuned here.

Thanks to Johann Baron Lanteigne and everyone who sent this in.

From the source:
http://www.renoise.com/about/what-s-new-2-6/

  • ehdyn

    They should call this update "God Mode"

  • http://www.jbl-art.com Johann

    For the record, the support for many more controllers are coming, such as support for the akai APC-40 and of course the monome.

    Also, like you said, those who do care enough to hack things together will be able to edit these interfaces for their custom needs, there can be several ways of using those versatile controllers such as the monome.

  • http://www.tomascerny.net TC

    Should I continue my work on sequencer in PureData or start to learn Lua and Renoise API? I mean there are more possibilities like visualisation made in PureData and more sound + control from Renoise… Really great piece of software with beautiful GUI, very functional and very well documented. And the best price for such a cool stuff. Thanks to all devs! PS: another use of Lua here http://love2d.org/wiki/Main_Page

  • http://lotek.fr/log Rez / zproc

    That 'Geek Edition' already stole to me one full night of sleep today, as I was playing with my Launchpad and Renoise and trying scripts, getting excited over the possibilities… now's the time for me to start learning a new programming language (LUA of course). :]

  • http://koppi.me/ Jakob Flierl

    #jay

  • poopoo

    Very cool. It's good to see stuff like this and maxforlive. The Steve Jobs iphone closedness trend freaks me out.

  • empolo

    This is very exciting news. The collaborative environment that they just introduced is going to bring about some damned wicked functionality. As an Open Source dude, I am very happy to see them move to this model and I am also proud to own a Renoise license. And as a Launchpad owner, extremely happy to get MIDI feedback for my LEDs. o/

  • empolo

    To clarify what I meant regarding Open Source, I meant to say that I am happy to see them create a community around the concept of collaboration, not that Renoise suddenly became open source. :> D

  • http://www.thecovertoperators.org Bjorn Vayner

    What is the latency for API calls?

  • http://bedroomproducer.com Fractal Dimension

    Looks like the guys behind Renoise have a very laudable approach to software development itself and seem to be very good at fostering their community. I really like everything about this project, except for the tracker paradigm of Renoise, but I guess this is purely down to personal preference.

    If only Ableton would "open up" a bit more… but I guess they are too big at this point to anything like that, and they were never really a grassroots movement to begin with.

  • Axel

    Imho, this is the way Ableton Live should have gone. All I ever needed from Live 7 to make it perfect was some easy, documented and consistent access to the API and native OSC support. I wonder how much of the problems Live 8 had/has is due to the difficulties of under the hood interfacing with Max.

    I've been thinking about trying Renoise for quite a while, but this time I'll bite.

  • adam

    this makes me think about whether live + m4l is still worth the money or not? the only adavantages i see are warping and the synth possibilities max offers. is that worth spending 540€ more? honestly, i doubt that. you could even buy renoise + reaktor and still save nearly 200€.

    but i have to admit that i don't know much about renoise. so can anybody tell me a good reason to stick with live?

  • http://napodano.com It-Alien

    @adam:

    for what I know about Live (not much really), Renoise and Live are quite different in approach to music: Live is great for composing music based on repetition with minimal variations added on-the-fly.

    not that this is impossible in Renoise, but is less straightforward. But if aim to go more into composition and less into improvisation, you should really abandon Live in the first place, Renoise being only one of the numerous alternatives available.

  • http://www.ilektron.com Mudo

    Well if hardware developers have native support by user community and they don't need to "pay" partnerships… maybe renoise will be the most interesting option for focus efforts…

    Ableton must open their Api and release a maxforlive runtime or lost their community user base support definetly…

    We are users not only costumers.

  • aidan

    does anyone know if this version will allow people to write scripts that allow renoise to properly deal with such things as receiving midi out from a vst (not currently supported in renoise) or send things like nprn midi messages to hardware via an osc wrapper script?

  • http://napodano.com It-Alien
  • http://Noisemakers.info Michael chenetz

    I guess it's time to scrub up on my LUA programming and try out the new Renoise. Luckily I have done some LUA programming before. I am curious to see how far the API goes. Very exciting.

  • Random Chance

    It's good to see that another popular tool for music is getting some form of scripting. From an implementor's point of view Lua is certainly very appealing because of the ease with which you can embed a Lua interpreter and tie the datastructures of the interpreter and the host together. But from the standpoint of someone who likes computer languages I just don't get it. Fortunately they did choose at least a syntactically and conceptually clean language not the abomination that Ruby is. Personally from the more popular scripting languages I'd have picked Python. Going to save that for when I get all my electronics projects finished and find some time I can spend on writing software again. ;-)

    Thumbs up!

  • aidan

    @it alien: wow!! fantastic stuff!

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

    @TC: why choose? ;)

    There's an external for using Lua scripts in Pd, so if you take the time to pick up a little Lua, you can use it there, too.
    http://claudiusmaximus.goto10.org/cm/2008-06-19_p

    And there was already some interest in using this new Renoise API to better integrate Pd with Renoise.

    It's also useful to have engines like Renoise (or Live, for that matter) when prototyping ideas, because you don't always have to build everything from scratch right away.

  • Flplsx

    holy bejesus!

    and just 3 weeks ago i bought live. and a monome kit last week. my wallet is crying, but at least renoise is cheap!

  • http://www.last.fm/music/Filip+Hnizdo Filip

    As the first commenter said, this is a Godly update. It's like all the features I'd have asked for but never got round to asking for have been put in. Excited particularly about the OSC and scripting parts. So pleased I bought Renoise (thanks to CDM originally) to work alongside Plogue Bidule. This will make that pairing even more powerful.

  • http://cooptrol.com cooptrol

    A renoise clip-grid/arrangement-view version would be great! I just can't cope with the tracker thing. Got sick from using Fasttracker back in the 90s. I love all Renoise 2.6 features but would love to see all of them inside a non-tracker app.

  • longtime renoiser

    "… control everything".

    what is your "everything"?

    btw: im fully with it-alien here…

    "not that this is impossible in Renoise, but is less straightforward. But if aim to go more into composition and less into improvisation, you should really abandon Live in the first place, Renoise being only one of the numerous alternatives available."

  • Mastah Lee

    I've never had the motivation to teach myself the tracker paradigm, but I gotta say Renoise is starting to look pretty sweet. Maybe I'll set aside a weekend and take the demo for a spin, but seeing how invested I'm in the Ableton eco-system (Live 8, Max For Live, Launchpad) I doubt I'll be able to convince myself of any drastic changes to my workflow.

    Definitely looks like fun though.

  • http://euc.cx/ Jeff Shell

    This is good – and timely – news. I've been considering Live+Max or Max/MSP directly for various reasons. I come from an experimental and generative background and used to use SuperCollider 2 fairly heavily about 8-10 years ago. I never quite got into the more visual style of Max/MSP (never bought) and Reaktor (own). But programming everything became tedious. I liked how Ableton pitched Live+Max as having the power of the timeline plus the flexibility of the Max patches, and that is looking very interesting for the direction I wish to take.

    I also own Renoise and quite like it. For more structured work, the tracker interface often works for me more than piano-roll sequencing. I was going to pull out Renoise and work through some of my ideas with it to see if plain Renoise + Kore/Reaktor would work out OK for the work I was considering doing in Live+Max. Knowing that Lua scripting is now an option, staying within the Renoise and Kore/Reaktor world seems even more useful, and cheaper!

    Glad I checked the CDM site this morning.

  • Human Plague

    For the code sniffers out there, browsing the changelist all the way back to revision 433 gives some interesting insight into possible future developments. Combined with a stable LuaJIT, DSP signal processing may be feasible.

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

    @longtime renoiser: "everything … in Renoise"? Sorry, was sleepy, writing this last night. ;)

  • http://www.jorgebarrientos.com Jorge from Madrid

    My dream scenario would be an Ableton API as open and well documented as this one. M4L gave us good information, but it doesn't feel enough. What about official examples?

    I come from a tracker background and once you get it, it's quite clear and straightforward, so you can jump from LSDJ or Modplug Tracker to Renoise and bounce all your past stuff to Ableton Live via Rewire. In fact, you don't have to "bounce tracks to a better DAW", because it really feels like a complete DAW. Using both approaches is fun and I think they could really coexists.

    Now it's time to do some scripting for the nanoKontrol and the nanoPad. I've been producing with a Asus EEE Netbook running Ubuntu and Renoise, with very pleasant results and only a few constrains which are something good sometimes!

    @TC

    I'm happy to see some PureData heads around!

  • Brendan

    What an awesome feature to add. This will make integrating any kind of controllers so easy, and it makes the developers have to work less because they're crowdsourcing the development!

    @Jorge Likewise- I bet more people use PureData than we think. Not *everyone* joins the mailing list.

  • http://renderful.com renderful

    I was waiting on this post, since I saw the news yesterday. So glad I checked renoise.com yesterday, as I could feel that update coming and have been thinking about it quite a bit.

    This will make my ChucK Renoise workflow so much happier! Doing modulations via OSC? Yes please!

  • Seamus

    I really want to get into Renoise, because it seems like they're doing a lot of cool stuff with it that I'd be really interested in composing, but damn, tracking is just archaic.

    I want to love it, I really do, but I simply don't understand why everybody thinks such an outdated paradigm is a great idea…

  • neu

    OSC on renoise sounds great ,i would love to see a full osc on monome emulator and also a template based on the jazzmutant lemur like mu on live. that would be sweet for me as i use both controllers

  • echolevel

    You tell 'em, Seamus! What are they thinking?

    Well for a start, if they're good touch-typists (and every computer user should be, to be honest) they can input many bars' worth of complex, first-time-accurate melodic phrases and velocity commands in the time it takes Cubase/Sonar/ProTools/Live users to drill down into a MIDI clip, access the piano roll, reach for their stupid, archaic mouse, double-click a few notes into existence, drag to resize those notes (because they were instantiated at the last-used note length and you wanted a different length, goddammit), expand the velocity envelope track, do some more mouse fiddling to set that note's velocity, then repeat the process for subsequent notes ad nauseam.

    Tracking is the man-machine composition paradigm for ninja, IF it's learnt properly. If it's in the hands of a keyboard-masher who'd prefer to be using the archaic mouse paradigm for what should be fast, efficient maneouvres. The more efficient you can become, the more transparent you make your interface – and anything which sits between the composer's brain and the listener's ear is an obstacle that has to be minimised. And besides, for a professional, time is money.

    So that's why it's a good idea, though I'm sure not quite "everyone" thinks so. I'm no tracking evangelist, but it'd be sad if people gave up on good alternatives for the wrong reasons.

  • echolevel

    Seem to have missed half a sentence there in my delerium. "If it’s in the hands of a 10wpm, seek-and-destroy typist who’d prefer to be using the archaic mouse paradigm for what should be fast, efficient maneouvres, it'll just seem like a clumsy, dry, spreadsheet-like wasteland; a relic of the past."

    Seamus – I only disagree with you about the 'outdated paradigm' thing, because I just don't think it is. It's cool that you want to love it: I wanted to love Ableton Live for years, but couldn't…for various reasons…and then I recently gave it a solid weekend's stress-test and evaluation and now I'm forced to admit that I use it for my professional work ;) So don't hate the paradigm – it works for many and if it doesn't work for you…that's fine :)

    Anyway. Peter – thanks for writing this up :) Renoise is getting there, and picking up speed. Nice that you offer an objective glance at the alternatives that are out there – especially software that's fundamentally niche but increasingly accessible.

  • http://www.soundcloud.com/kid_conflict niNja_pWn3d

    ..renoise 2.6. *sigh* unfortunately mine expired however this is my fathers day present and I was saving the money for it in my paypal act. untill the release of this fine fine bata becomes gold! I AM A PROUD MEMBER OF THE COMMUNITY unfortunitly not one that contributes as much as I would like but now I have the desire to learn Lua so maby I can =D This program is a very real part of my life and I for one am proud to have Renoise 2.5.1 icon in my taskbar. I LOVE THE WHOLE TEAM! KEEP IT UP GUYS!!

  • http://napodano.com It-Alien

    @Human Plague: you got it right. This has not been offered directly into 2.6 because LuaJIT is not stable enough at the moment, but the aim is to do this in the future

  • echolevel

    fractal dimension: true, well put!

  • http://bedroomproducer.com Fractal Dimension

    @echolevel: It’s the good old “vi/emacs vs. ” debate all over again, applied to music composition instead of programming.
    I think there is no right or wrong choice, it all depends on the task at hand and the user’s preferred workflow. No wonder that e.g. Venetian Snares uses Renoise, seems to be a good fit for his meticulously edited, glitched out tracks.

  • http://bedroomproducer.com Fractal Dimension

    Oops, that should read:
    “vi/emacs vs. insert-your-favorite-IDE”.

  • longtime renoiser

    @ peter k. : no offense. sorry for sounding a bit harsh here….

    as someone said already, the audio -dsp stuff will come sometime in the near future.

    one step at a time.

    actually i should state: i love your cdm blog.

    and hey, thank ya for telling us about it.

  • HEXnibble

    Yes! Sample Autoseek!

    Can't wait to try out the new Duplex automapping feature with TouchOSC!

    @Seamus: "tracking is just archaic.

    I want to love it, I really do, but I simply don’t understand why everybody thinks such an outdated paradigm is a great idea…"

    While trackers may come across more like some data spreadsheet at first glance, especially compared to most other mainstream music composition tools out there, they are unsurpassed in terms of efficient workflow built around using the computer keyboard as an instrument.

  • fladd

    Yeah, Renoise is the Vim of the DAWs :-)

  • Seamus

    @ Hexnibble and Echolevel – I know what I said might have come across as somewhat ignorant in my original statement, but I actually started off using a tracker when I first got into making music, and I still use LSDJ if I'm determined to write some 8-bit style stuff.

    I understand that tracking works for some people, and yeah, my original comment was pretty biased, but having used trackers some years back, I just think there are several things that do not gel at least with how I like to work.

    It's mainly how elements are visually represented. What visual feedback you have in Renoise, or any other tracker, is a series of alphabetical and numerical values arranged on a cascading grid, and while it makes sense, sort of, it's just, for me, totally unintuitive. Yeah, I can use it, but it's a pain in the ass.

    Whereas in a Cubase/Logic-style DAW, the visual representation of notes and beats just seems much more directly correlatable. I can immediately see the correlation of different note-pitches, how long each goes on for, etc, etc. As well as this, it seems a lot easier to get a long-form view of whatever track you're working on, while still giving an adequate level of visual feedback, using a traditional DAW than a tracker.

    So yeah, I just don't think tracking is for me. It's just a bit frustrating for me that Renoise has all these tons of cool features and ideas that I would kill to have in my workflow, but it's just based around an overall paradigm that completely kills it for me.

    Bah, maybe that's what I should have just said in my original post :P

  • nestle

    @fladd:
    no! by including the endless possibilities of scripting renoise has become the emacs of daws!

  • Wilbo

    Renoise was the first tracker I ever came across. For me it was like a blindfold had just been removed from my eyes. After using stuff like Ableton and Fruityloops for years I couldn't believe I had never tried the tracker format. I think calling it an outdated paradigm is pretty ridiculous, especially if you've spent any time at all with Renoise. For me it is by far the easiest, most efficient and most fun way to create beats and sequence my softsynths as well as create new sounds using samples and effects.

    I can certainly understand why some people might not gel with the workflow as Seamus said, but its certainly far more than a tool for people that are still living in the 8-bit 80's world of demo music or techno.

  • echolevel

    Seamus – very good points. Actually, though the electronic side of my life's music has been ProTracker-FastTracker2->Renoise (with dabblings in stuff like Sonar along the way), the limited overview trackers give me seems only suited to briefs that I'm rarely working to: writing chiptunes for cracktros or soundtracks for Amiga demos :)

    So I agree wholeheartedly about the fundamental barrier a tracker places between the drilled-down, fine detail, ninja workflow and the part of you that needs to be able to refer easily and often to the bigger picture of your arrangement. That's why I'm using Live for a fair bit of stuff now.

    Aye, with your explanations, I totally appreciate your position. It's good to hash stuff out like this, especially if it'll be read by people curious about Renoise or tracking in general :)

  • the smurf called cho

    DSP toolkits, DAWs, Tracking and Community focus converges with Renoise. Tracking turns a computer into a piece of hardware. Renoise 2.6 turns a computer into a networked piece of programmable hardware.

  • Yeah

    "It’s mainly how elements are visually represented. What visual feedback you have in Renoise, or any other tracker, is a series of alphabetical and numerical values arranged on a cascading grid, and while it makes sense, sort of, it’s just, for me, totally unintuitive. Yeah, I can use it, but it’s a pain in the ass."

    Agreed 100%. You're not the only one.

  • http://myspace.com/capitanmission Capitan Mission

    Renoise is more and more cool in each release. Im not a veteran tracker user, I started with FL Studio, then Live!, but I found the tracker interface, and specially Renoise a superb music software.

    Cubase, Pro tools, etc, are Tape recorders in software, Renoise is another way, more specialized, to make music with a computer.

    For some people it may seems complicated, but if you try it, are great chances that you discovers a new world of making music.

  • Syflom

    why are people obsessing with the age of the tracker paradigm.

    Piano-roll sequencers are from the same era also.

    This update to Renoise rocks though. I'm going to do some scripting in it.

  • fladd

    @Nestle: Vim has scripting too, of course. I don't know, somehow Renoise feels more like Vim than Emacs. I guess it is the way the software is designed, clean and efficient. Anyway, it was a stupid comparison anyway :-)

  • http://www.employeestore.org/usaid/ Pad Folios

    I agree wholeheartedly about the fundamental barrier a tracker places between the drilled-down, fine detail, ninja workflow and the part of you that needs to be able to refer easily and often to the bigger picture of your arrangement. That’s why I’m using Live for a fair bit of stuff now.

    DSP toolkits, DAWs, Tracking and Community focus converges with Renoise. Tracking turns a computer into a piece of hardware. Renoise 2.6 turns a computer into a networked piece of programmable hardware.

  • http://www.billthompson.org prof_lofi

    @It.Alien ": Live is great for composing music based on repetition with minimal variations added on-the-fly…. But if aim to go more into composition and less into improvisation, you should really abandon Live "

    Er, no offense but No, that's really a ridiculous statement. I use live for performing and improvising, yes, but also VERY much for composing which entails more than simply fixing everything in place. Composing involves combining samples, recombining, mixing, adding fx, tweaking, sampling, remixing etc etc, and Live does this very flexibly and intuitively, at least for me and several other composers I know.

    I have about 500 wave files of very long durations in my main set, all set to randomly go to any other sample in it's column. By hitting random, I can create an almost infinite recombination of samples that can be recorded back into live, to be added to the set…I can do the same randomisation (and do) with almost all of my FX, VSTs, and M4L fx settings, record these out as well. I can input live sound into a track, trigger midi, add automisation, etc etc. Many of my fixed works in the past 4 or so years were written on live, and all of my sound installations were prototyped in it. Honestly, you can do an incredible amount of work in Live. Even for sample editing and multitrack arranging, I know guys that use it instead of more standard wave editors or multitrackers (I don't but it's capable of it). And we haven't even gone into M4L or CliphX scripts.

    There are alot of more beat-oriented DJ users to be sure, but that's not the only way to use it and I don't in any way feel like I'm working against the grain of it's design by not following that paradigm (I don't even know how to add drumbeats which I hear is ridiculously easy in LIve). There are a couple of annoying things sure (the fact that to use the randomisation function that you have to have warp on for instance, but it's easy enough to make that transparent)..otherwise, it's superflexible.

    Anyway, as to Renoise I admit, I haven't used it or other trackers but I keep looking again and again, and although I feel confident in my software aptitude, I really am perplexed by the Tracker thing..but this looks so amazing, with every update I feel more and more envious of the program and now that it can work with longer samples, maybe I'll finally take a crack at it.

    b.

  • Tom Swirly

    P00p, Lua? :-(

    Why didn’t they use Javascript, just like everyone else is doing? (Bitwig, Max/MSP, Chrome, Greasemonkey, etc…) Javascript is a more powerful language than Lua, but it’s also a very familiar language, and quite easy to use. (And I also have a huge library of JS functions for music already written… so I have a dog in this fight…)