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Waveform/piano roll idea

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#1 Lee B. James

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Posted 22 April 2017 - 03:18

Hi guys, I'm a brand new forum member!

My quest to find the perfect DAW finally led me here to Renoise. I love it, and think I'll be using it for many years!

I grew up using trackers (Octamed, Pro Tracker) and have always preferred the Tracker style of interface to modern-style DAWs. I love the control, power, and precision a tracker offers - all the note information visible as code, quickly editable with keys! :)

However, as we know, modern-style DAWs do have a couple of advantages over trackers:

  1. "Piano roll" lets you see the general shape of your melodies
  2. Track waveforms let you see what each track is doing at any given moment

As a graphic designer with a passion for interface design, I'd like to present my own solution to this problem - how I wish Renoise looked.

 

I know people have discussed solutions in the past (eg here) but I haven't seen anything quite like my idea:

 

demo image.png

Features of my design:

  1. I've never liked horizontal piano rolls; my piano roll is vertical, with notes arranged left to right like a keyboard.
  2. There's no piano keyboard image. I don't need one, I only need to see the shape of the melodies
  3. Notes are entered with keys, same as always. I hate the idea of using the mouse to "draw" notes.
  4. Each melody range (from lowest to highest note) automatically stretches to fill the column width
  5. That means if a track only has samples in one pitch (eg vocals, kick drum) it fills the entire width, which is what you want
  6. Each note is a mono waveform, with a solid line at the top to clearly indicate the start of each new sample
  7. Unlike other piano rolls I've seen, the width of each note slightly overlaps the adjacent notes, making better use of the space
  8. Another feature of my idea is that multiple tracks can be "grouped" (see tracks 4-5 and 6-7 above). This combines all their notes together in the same space, ideal for chords
  9. Note that this is only a rough sketch. I would gladly develop the design further if anyone was interested. (I have a few other ideas but don't want to get ahead of myself.)
  10. Also note the basic skin used here is not mine, it's based on some random screenshot I downloaded. (Funny thing is, I haven't even downloaded Renoise yet, I'm far too busy redesigning the interface!) :) LOL

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#2 Skolskoly

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Posted 22 April 2017 - 22:25

I know people have discussed solutions in the past (eg here) but I haven't seen anything quite like my idea:

 

There is also an on-going discussion for piano roll that you should check out:

http://forum.renoise...ing-piano-roll/

 

Look at the date on that first post. It's a good thing that you plan on sticking around, as you say, "many years" :P

I like the interface mock-up though. I think this would be what I'd go for ideally too.

 

Another thing to add: highlighting a note with the cursor should highlight the corresponding piano roll note.

I'm always getting confused with my 4 or 5 note block chords. Sometimes I have to switch to the instrument view just to understand what's being played!


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#3 Lee B. James

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Posted 23 April 2017 - 03:06

Another thing to add: highlighting a note with the cursor should highlight the corresponding piano roll note.

 

Yes, definitely! Good point. I have more ideas like this about how it could work, but first I'm going to go and get more familiar with the program.
 

 

There is also an on-going discussion for piano roll that you should check out:

http://forum.renoise...ing-piano-roll/

Oh, sorry to make a new thread when there already was a fairly active one. I honestly hadn't seen it, and I did search.
 

I think I'll post a link to this thread in that one, just for reference.


Edited by Lee B. James, 23 April 2017 - 03:17.


#4 Skolskoly

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Posted 23 April 2017 - 03:29

Oh, sorry to make a new thread when there already was a fairly active one. I honestly hadn't seen it, and I did search.

 

I think I'll post a link to this thread in that one, just for reference.

 

Cool, no worries. Your thread actually gave me an idea, I posted it here. It's more of a compromise than anything, but people have been asking for a piano roll for a long time, and it's better to have something rather than nothing.



#5 danoise

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Posted 23 April 2017 - 13:22

Strictly speaking, this is not a piano-roll  :D

A "real" piano-roll has the entire keyboard range represented, which means that you usually have to scroll to go from low to high notes. 

It has the advantage that you can immediately see the relationship between pitches. But it's also not terribly ergonomic and can potentially waste a lot of space. 

 

Renoise doesn't do any of this, it records the notes as they arrive - or as you type them. You can basically organize them in whichever way you feel like. 

This is a the tracker approach - you can even mix different instruments into the same track - no restrictions there. 

 

But if you feel like organizing the notes by their instrument/pitch relationship, there are tools that deal with this too:

http://renoise.com/tools/voicerunner

https://www.renoise....separate-tracks


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#6 Lee B. James

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Posted 24 April 2017 - 03:27

Danoise, thanks for your response, but I don't think you understand what my idea is.
 

Strictly speaking, this is not a piano-roll  :D

Perhaps not, but it has all the useful features of a piano roll, without losing the tracker interface.

 

A "real" piano-roll has the entire keyboard range represented…

 

As does mine

 

…which means that you usually have to scroll to go from low to high notes.

 

My idea has no scrolling, so it's far better.

 

It has the advantage that you can immediately see the relationship between pitches.

 

As does mine

 

But it's also not terribly ergonomic and can potentially waste a lot of space.

 

My idea wastes no space at all. It doesn't change the Renoise interface one bit, it just overlays the piano roll over the top.

 

Renoise doesn't do any of this

 

No but it could if the developers implemented it! :) I'm sure most people would prefer to have a piano roll, even if it's only very subtle and almost completely transparent.

 

it records the notes as they arrive - or as you type them.

 

Please re-read my description, I'm not suggesting we change the input method, only that we show the notes in a piano roll.

 

This is a the tracker approach - you can even mix different instruments into the same track - no restrictions there.

 

Yes I know what the tracker approach is, that's why I chose Renoise instead of the other DAWs. I like the tracker approach and I don't want to change anything, only add a piano roll, which I think would be very helpful.

 

But if you feel like organizing the notes by their instrument/pitch relationship, there are tools that deal with this too:

http://renoise.com/tools/voicerunner

https://www.renoise....separate-tracks

 

No, I don't want to do any of those things, or change anything about the way Renoise works, I only want to display a piano roll / waveforms.
 



#7 Nokatus

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Posted 28 April 2017 - 10:43

Perhaps not, but it has all the useful features of a piano roll, without losing the tracker interface.

 

 

As does mine

 

 

My idea has no scrolling, so it's far better.

 

 

As does mine

 

 

My idea wastes no space at all. It doesn't change the Renoise interface one bit, it just overlays the piano roll over the top.

 

 

... and so on.

 

It sounds like you really like your idea, but to say it has  "all the useful features of a piano roll" isn't doing the idea any favors. You might feel like it contains everything that is useful in a piano roll to you, subjectively, but this isn't an actual piano roll - instead, it's a "piano roll - like" overlay that gives you visual cues of the musical content in the fashion piano rolls and waveform views do. There's more to an actual piano roll than that, and someone might find the things lacking here to be "useful features", which makes this far worse of a piano roll to them   ;)


Edited by Nokatus, 28 April 2017 - 10:44.


#8 fuzzcreatorhasenpfeffer

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Posted 29 April 2017 - 21:39

I'm sympathetic to Lee's overlay approach, especially in terms of it appearing to be a relatively light coding 'lift' to implement for Renoise devs.  I come from the other end of the spectrum than Lee, as I'm still getting used to the tracker Way coming, as I do, from piano-roll daws myself.  At least it reinforces the visual cues of serial events-with-duration happening in time, along with the vertical listing of events characteristic of trackers.  It could be a preference 'track overlay' option that could be switched on and off.  Since it isn't meant as an interface element that can be interacted with, it's really just a graphics call to draw audio and MIDI data types.  Nice!...and could be useful to some of us.


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Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: waveform, piano roll, vertical waveform, horizontal waveform, vertical piano roll, horizontal piano roll, interface design, GUI design, interface, GUI