Brainstorming: Arranger

All this is just drafts. Nothing is final. Not even close. But the more you see whats behind this beast, the more limitations you see as well. It might end up exactly the way you want it. Or something totally new. But you said it your self. The main concern is always slick functionality and workflow.
So please… don’t stop discussing things even if I say it’s hard to this or that. :) I’m not even a coder. Just trying to see things a little both ‘ways’ (should stop doing that!).

I can’t speak for taktik ;) but I’m afraid many ppl have way to big hopes for the 2.0 version. In other words there is not much chance you will see an arranger for 2.0.
Currently we are working on more basic things in the pattern editor and it’s underlying structure that just needs to be done first (like timing issues etc) This will prepare us for the larger features in the future. But in usual takitk style, I suspect there will always be some surprises :)

Yeah, let’s hope for the best :yeah:

So far the BEST design element in terms of arranger that I’d personally like to see (and I’m sure most people will appreciate it as soon as they realize what freedom this element brings) is ability to TRIGGER PATTERN CLIPS within a track, as opposed to triggering just notes.

It’s just that some ‘oldskool’ devotees seem kinda ignorant about the power of clip triggering (because they probably never tried it?).

Because pattern sequence where notes can be accompanied by independent note clips, already is the best arranger ever seen in a tracker!
BTW, that’s the same concept which made Macromedia Flash so revolutionary back in the day - the clip instances! The Timeline (big ‘general’ pattern) and Clip Instances (patterns inside it). It’s a fractal concept, because even the ‘general pattern sequence’ can become a mere clip and be used in a newly designed pattern sequence.

Ahh… I still feel it’s a darn shame not too many people around here have tried Aodix. The way it’s arranger handles clips (pattern instances) is so far the brightest idea I’ve seen in a music program, arranger-wise. It just unlocks the brain, I tell ya. (Ableton is way behind it). And I think it’s about the only thing that Renoise still seriously lacks (along with basic multioutput routing).

Just have a looksie at Aodix (its free), and you’ll see for yourself! It’s not perfect, I know, (its functionality is nothing compared to Renoise) because the project was stopped, but it was supposed to be further polished! Arguru was always ahead of all tracking ideas (almost every major tracker, including Renoise, is his initial creation) and Aodix was meant to be the next step forward! But alas, first a big software company lured him away from tracking, then cruel Fate has mercilessly taken this genius man away from us.

But still I believe that his final creation (Aodix) deserves much more attention from tracker developers (and users), because of the innovative ideas it holds.

Somebody should just pay a bit more attention, pick up and perfect this idea. I sincerely think it’s worth it.

If this is implemented, Renoise will be the smartest program for composing on PC ever!

How about being able to treat ‘clips’ with effect commands?

Imagine 09xx for clips!


This above idea for an arranger is the best I’ve seen so far – props to the genius who thought it up!

Yes!!! I agree: this is THE most powerful idea that could be implemented in Renoise right now. A simple revolution.

Antic’s take on the arranger got me thinking… I really like the idea about being able to zoom into the pattern, so I’ve tried to flesh out the concept by creating a couple of fake screenshots:

The clip arranger/editor, with a zoom factor of 25% (click image for larger version)

Update: And with a zoom factor of 6.25% the entire song fits inside the pattern editor!

All of the changes are transparent to the current workflow, but provide a lot of new features and possibilities:

1: The first idea goes all the way back to Renoise’s Noisetrekker origins! It’s the pattern sequencer to the left, which has been extended with mute & solo per track. This is a very simple way to create variations (think of breakdowns and intro’s), without having to modify any patterns.

  • Show/hide the mute & solo controls by clicking the small icon above the scrollbar
  • Workflow is maintained: manual solo and mute (CTRL+Numpad keys) will still work as normal, overriding the value specified by the mute/solo column
  • When creating a new pattern, it will use the currently muted/soloed tracks
  • Mouse usage: each row of solo/mute controls works just like the scopes (solo/on/off), shift modifier toggles mute mode
  • Good for live/performance use: it is possible to edit track mutes for patterns while playing - the buttons will not respond in realtime, but only on pattern-sequence position changes. Personally I’ve used two programs with simular implmentation, Noisetrekker and AXS, and it works like a charm!

2: Next big thing is clips. It should be possible to create and repeat a sequence of notes/automation, having some sort of “source” clip that can be edited, with changes reflected in clip instances throughout the song. So, some kind of “storage” for the clips is needed…Well, time to look to the many interesting suggestions in the future renoise instrument threads! As I see it, instruments are a perfect representative of a clip: they can be copied, replaced, we can use pattern effects, or “advanced edit” features on them, and again, workflow is maintained.

  • Clips are stored in the instrument table, and are actually groups of clips - Each sample slot can contain a seperate clip, with it’s own pattern data
  • An instrument/clip pattern is simular to a single track
  • A clip is edited from the clip editor, while the main pattern editor is used for triggering & controlling the clip
  • The clip’s contents can be accessed via the small icon next to the “advanced edit” icon, or by doubleclicking the clip in the instrument bank. This will open a small, dedicated pattern editor for working with clip patterns
  • Color coding affect the clip’s appearance in the instrument table and main pattern editor (especially useful when zoomed out)
  • Trigger modes (what action to take when a note is recieved?)
  • Effect commands such as sample offset [9xx], backward/forward [bxx] etc., will affect the clip’s pattern playback
  • When using the speed multiplier commands [F1xx] inside the main pattern editor, in a region occupied by a clip, the command will affect the clip pattern playback speed
  • “Create clip”: make a selection in the pattern, rightclick, choose “create clip” (the pattern in clip editor is populated with the selected notes)
  • “Apply” could take any clip instances and convert them into normal pattern data

It’s important to consider that the clip implementation should leave room for a modified instrument structure (complete with velocity mapping, MIDI/audio input/output routing, internal DSP chain etc), and other planned features…

Wohoo, I have made an animated version of the zoomable editor!

Click image to view flash version

The zooming has been divided into three discrete steps:


  • The pattern editor works just like now
  • Clips are visually represented by a shaded background color


  • Each row represent 4 notes, each note is represented as pixels
  • Clips are visually represented by name + shaded background color


  • Each row represent 16 notes, notes are no longer visible
  • Clips are represented by a shaded background color

Thanks for the effort to visualize these ideas!

There is nothing wrong with ‘your’ concept. This is pretty much what was discussed from day one (5 years ago). :)
And most of it I hope will be implanted as well over time.
There are however some issues.
Remember that not everyone use only one notecolumn per track. That fact can easily mean that you only see a few tracks at once in a 1024* screen resolution setup. This model is not compact enough to be a complete arranger IMO. Thats why at least I have emphasised that in addition to handle clips directly in the pattern editor we also need a simple more compact one that is separate from the pattern editor. For the most compact possible a horizontal solution would be best (because of names written horizontal etc). But that is not an big issue, it could also be swapped to vertical I guess… But you can then easier have a dual setup where you see the compact clip arranger at the same time you work in the pattern editor at another zoom-level.
There is also a possible conflict at your 25%zoom for instance. We might also wanna plan to be able to zoom out in the pattern-editor itself (without thinking about the clips here). You would then hide pattern data in between lines. In your drawings you convert the clips into ‘names’ where you can not edit the clip itself directly in the pattern editor.
To make this work we would then perhaps need another ‘edit mode’ for the pattern editor. And that also make this more complicated. Perhaps more complicated then we need.
This make me think that at first we should perhaps make a very simple separate clip arranger work first. Before we start adding anything new into the pattern-editor.
But that is just MHO (also slightly based on the current underlying structure, and poor taktik that is gonna code all this :P)

About clips in the instrument list. This as also something that needs to be discussed more.
The initial idea was that this should be optional. So you start with a separate list (a pool of all the elements in your project, samples, instruments, clips, etc). Then it is up to you to implant them directly to the pattern-editor or in the separate clip arranger. It is then optional if you wanna encapsulate the data into a instrument. You simply do this by dragging the element from the pool into a instrument or sample-slot (or directly to the instrument key mapper). I think this is a more clean way to do things. Not wasting lots of instrument slots.
We could of course have options to automatically put clips into a new instrument if you prefer that.
The idea to put clips into instrument slots was that you will not see that clip in the pattern editor. You will only see the encapsulated note from the instrument. We then have a separate clip/pattern editor for the instrument-patterns/clips (just like on your drawing. This editor could perhaps also preview clips that you highlight in the pool.
As said, I think it’s cleaner to do it that way. Separate all the clips you might not even use from the instruments. If we get audiotracks and stuff there is not likely that you wanna/or that it is possible to threat these clips as instruments at all (tranposing it, using normal pattern fx on it etc).
Instead we could for instance have a checkbox that temporary encapsulate the selected clip into a instrument that you can play directly on the keyboard. But still you have not made an instrument of it. And as soon as you move focus away from the clip-pool/arranger then the focus is back to your instruments in the instrument-list.

Holy shit danoise, that is looking really good! :)


This is almost exactly how I imagined it, except for the fact that I wouldn’t propose separate clip editor - you don’t need one. Just put the notes in pattern editor, select a region and make a clip out of it. Then re-use it if needed.

Anyway, great job visualising that idea! :)



Especially using the standard renoise pattern style as an overview of the song structure.

wicked. THANKS!

wow danoise, that looks really promising!

Thanks! But I think it’s over complicating things a bit.

I’ve been thinking in those lines too. Switching between pages that show basically the same thing in different zoom levels/orientation only makes things more confusing.

Agreed! Keep it simple.

At the same time, get rid of the pattern sequencer. I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t need it if clips and pattern zoom was implemented.

How come?

Well, if clips were nested (I’m sure this must have been suggested somewhere before), you could create clips spanning all tracks and, say 64 lines, to represent patterns as of today. That way it could be backwards compatible for those who prefer the old school way. And with the pattern list zoomed out you would get similar feel/functionality of the pattern sequencer.

The plus side would be that you can trigger a pattern/clip at any line, so you could cut off a previous clip before it is finished without modifying length or using FB00 (pattern break).

Inside these “root-clips” (which could be only one, spanning the entire song if you like) you’d enter pattern data as normal, or create sub-clips. And create sub-sub-level clips, I dunno how many levels should be allowed… unlimited?

And when editing a clip that has been duplicated, there should be an option to make unique or apply to all clips.

If automation was also moved to a vertical position alongside the tracks, we would have all sequencing data on one screen at once. Using vertical and horizontal (hide columns) zoom to seamlessly move between detailed and rough editing, without having to switch screen and “refocusing” the eyes, seeing which track/clip/etc is which. Good for newbs… and global view presets can be used to speed it up when you’re used to the program.

With horizontal zoom (minimizing tracks) I don’t think it will be a problem.

Thanks all for the feedback, good to see this discussion alive and kicking :slight_smile:

No, I didn’t make use of expanded tracks in the screenshot, but maybe I should have? I think it should be possible to fit even fully expanded tracks inside the working space.
Notice how I suggested that the zooming could work both vertically and horizontally at full magnification (6.25%)? So, since normal and medium zoom factors are able to display notes and commands, they definitely should display subtracks as well.

But zooming out to a full view of the song should hide any non-relevant info including subtracks - after all, it’s the clip arranger mode. In this mode, each line represents 16 steps (and perhaps even another 8.33% mode for 3/4 time signatures, with each line representing 12 steps?). Still, it should be mostly identical to the normal pattern editor, in terms of keyboard shortcuts, mouse interaction etc., except for a number of small, but important additions:

  • The clips are “blocks”, which can be selected using the mouse.
  • Multiple clips can be selected at once (press CTRL while selecting)
  • When selected, clips can be dragged around (simular to the present note selections)
  • When a single clip is selected, it can be resized using the top/bottom edge
  • And of course, standard cut/copy/paste/etc are supported as well

No mattern how a clip arranger is done, the tricky part is in deciding how normal notes (that aren’t part of a clip) should be represented, AKA the “old-school mode”.

At the 25% zoom level, all notes and commands are visible, in the sense that you can see that ‘there’s something there’. It may not be ideal for editing, but it should be workable. Shortcuts for cut/copy/paste, inserting clips, moving around, selecting etc. should remain the same.

For actual editing of a clip, I suggested the need for a dedicated clip editor. One of the points are, that a clip can have any given length - and not necessarily the same length as the clip instance in the pattern editor.

  • If the clip is shorter than the space it takes up in the pattern editor, it might begin to repeat.
  • If the clip is longer, it is simply cut off before it reach it’s end.

Yes, the sample-pool thing is definitely going to happen sometime. But instead of creating another bank for song resources, why not combine them into a single space? I would imagine that the instrument bank could be equipped with tabs for displaying instruments, clips and samples, along with a small search field.

But imagine that a song is composed of various clips, and you could change the clip’s content while playing the song? This is really, really useful stuff IMHO.
But there’s a possible workaround…If we create clips, just the way you suggest, by highlighting a region in the pattern editor, but with the twist that the clip is a reference to this particular region instead of a copy, it would be possible to edit the clip anytime. A bit strange, but perhaps workable?

So you want to get rid of the pattern sequencer, while keeping the concept of patterns? Remember, patterns are in themselves a sort of clip: they are reusable, but only when put into a sequence. All in all, it’s a well-defined and practical concept. With the suggested features for solo and mute controls, the pattern sequencer would become even more powerful. And finally, it’s very compact - for example, it’s right there alongside the mixer view.

So I’d like to keep the pattern sequencer, as you might have noticed. But I agree that we need a way to jump to a specific position in realtime. Someone came up with a multiple song loop idea that could help. I’ll find the screenshot and post it.

Couldn’t this also be done with pattern follow turned off?

Exactly, I’m saying a pattern is sort of the same thing as a clip. So get rid of the pattern system and trigger clips along a timeline. This way you could get the same functionality of todays pattern system if you like, of use it in other ways, like the break core people who like to use maximum length patterns at high speed.

And having an extra sequencer window just for track mutes and solo doesn’t seem worth the space. Maybe the same functionality could be implemented into the pattern window? A solo/mute button on each clip perhaps? Which would solo/mute the entire clip content including any sub clips.

I think of the pattern sequencer mostly as a list of named cue points, but I don’t see how a timeline could fit into such a small space. So there’s definitely still a good reason for it to exist.

If the idea of patterns will become obsolete, the new way of doing things should be accompanied by a mechanism for backwards compability - such as converting patterns into a sequence of “cue points”

And what will happen if a clip has a larger number of sub-tracks than the track in which the clip is playing?

Good idea, and actually the small “C”'s I put into the screenshot could be those buttons. That’s even better than the mute/solo thing

I just spoke with a friend of mine who thought the pattern zooming ability was cool, but that it would be quite heavy on the CPU.

So let me clarify - it wasn’t my point to suggest animated transitions, the flash demo was simply a way of making it clear what was happening - IMO the zoom should happen instantly, and not take precious cycles away from the CPU :slight_smile:

My point was and still is:

  • you would need to have a completely new edit and view mode for clips vs normal pattern operation
  • as you make things more compact then original pattern tracks and the fact that you zoom quite much, you simply change the view so much that I think we should at least from the beginning just put all this into a separate arranger window.
  • we have discussed some plans for normal pattern zoom as well. So the zoom-level should not decide how pattern editor will function.

Both view and functionality is quite different then normal pattern editing.
That should make no difference in you brain if you use a zoom preset or have two different windows for them.
Also remember that ppl with large screen-space might wanna have both pattern editor and clip-arranger open at the same time.
That said, I have nothing against doing some basic clip operations directly in the pattern editor. That is create/delete/insert/move clip (not changing any zoom in the process). Perhaps pressing a couple of modifier keys in the pattern editor will quickly show the clips, and temporary change the edit mode to let you move the clips with arrows/mouse etc.
We are talking about the same thing after all really.

At this time i’d like to point out that this “Arranger” thread began in 2003.

At this time i’d like to point out that it may be presumptuous to expect an implementation of a full specification provided less than a month ago, because “The Arranger” has been in the works for half a decade.

At this time I will postulate that something is already in the works, and if your ideas fit within the framework they will be used, if not… :(

That’s one of the reasons I use a different sequencer nowadays (Logic) mainly because of the arranger was slowing me down to quickly get the song structure out there. I have a short attention span when it comes to music creating I guess :) Still I lurk here time to time to see what the progression is on this matter. I still miss Renoise when it comes to precision editing sequences though.

Great to see some activities again in this thread!