I started in 2015 I think it was. I was in college and didn’t really have much cash, just wanted to start making music but didn’t want to invest big money on something like Ableton. Actually I might not have even known what Ableton was. Not sure how I found out about trackers, I think I just came across it when googling cheap DAWs. Then I just stuck with. I fucked around with all sorts of other stuff like PD, Composer Desktop Project, Max/MSP, Reaktor, and tried the demo of Ableton eventually but always went back to Renoise just cause I’d gotten so used to it. Still want to learn Reaktor though.
Anyway’s in the start I made a lot of crap stuff, for like 2-3 years just loads of unfinished, badly mixed songs. I did make a few alright things though. At the start I was listening to a lot of Squarepusher, Aphex Twin especially the Drukqs album), The Tuss, and Venetian Snares so I was after the breakcore/drill n bass sound. I spent a lot of time chopping, layering, and processing breaks, and learning the best ways to re-arrange them, and how to create new rhythms from old breaks. At the start I did it all note by note, then I learned how to do random selection from a pool of samples using the keyboard to layer samples combined with the maYbe command in the phrase editor. Basically what I could do then was create a pattern using a single C4 note on the desired lines in the main pattern editing window, load in a bunch of oneshots, or sliced break hits, hit play and then Renoise would just create an endless randomly generated drum track. Then I’d just program in everything else around the drum track.
Here’s one of first randomised breakcore type tracks I made:
Some breakcore style tracks I did manually editing everything per note:
Then I got bored with breakcore, and chopping breaks and moved onto other styles. Did a lot of messing about sound design type stuff to see what I could make Renoise do.
Like in this video for instance. You can basically create a tone generator in Renoise using a 1 sample sound with DC Offset and the Ring Modulation device combined with the Key Tracker. So I created like 5 or 6 basic of those and used them to make this.
Did a lot of ambient drone stuff using sample manipulation combined with the above tone generators. A lot of timestretching using the beatsync option in the sampler, and the rubberband tool (there’s loads of free tools that you can download on the renoise website and install):
Then after a while started to use it like a modular setup as I described in the above post. Really what I wanted to do was see if I could make a fully fleshed out track using two or three source sounds. And this is the what I came up with:
It’s just two kick drums and a pad sample. All I did was use send track in Renoise’s sample to split the signal of the kick drums to various other sends and added DSP to the send tracks which altered the drums sounds in glitched out ways i.e repeater, chorus, phaser, etc. to build up layers to the overall track.
After that I just kept going in that direction and now I’m still doing this but with way more modulation and I also incorporate some of the old things I used to do around my breakcore phase as well like randomisation.
Which brings me to here:
Everything I ever needed to know about Renoise I found on the Renoise forum. When you’re starting out just hang out there, search the topics, and ask questions. The forum is very active and someone will always try help you out.
The most basic thing you need to learn is probably pattern settings for note lengths, and time signatures. So learn about pattern length, and LPB (Lines Per Beat) first. For instance if you have a pattern with 96 lines, and an LPB setting of 24 then every 24th line is a quarter note (96/24 = 4), every 12th line is an 1/8th note (96/12 = 8), every 6th line = 16th note, etc. This is how I used to use it for breakcore because you can divide down to triplets 24 = 1/4 note : 24/3 = 8 (every 8th line is a triplet). But when I ditched breakcore I switched to using a pattern length of 16 with an LPB of 4 (16/4 = 4, every 4th line is a quarter note) to replicate hardware sequencers. To change time signatures just add more lines to the pattern 20 lines at LPB of 4 = 5/4 (20/4 = 5) and so on.
After that learn you’ll have to learn hexadecimal, it’s not that hard you’ll get it pretty quick. I actually don’t even worry about it anymore cause I only need to remember about the three different hex numbers (FF = the highest, 80 = middle, 00 = the lowest), but it’ll depend on what you need to do.
After that it’s all down to just experimenting and practicing. Download other peoples songs from the forum and study them to see how they do things and you’ll quickly build up methods of working that work for you.