Comfortable Way To Record Notes Via Midi

Prior to Renoise, I was using Cubase, which everyone know is a midi-based sequencer (it started out that way atleast). The large difference is that Renoise works with steps and ticks, Cubase in bars and notes. In a sequencer such as Cubase you’re not forced to quantize to f.ex. 1/16th note, but it’s possible. Of course each system has its pros and cons. In this topic I’m focused on how to record notes into Renoise without too much hassle.

Since Renoise works in steps, one way to enter notes is to use it as a step-sequencer. For those not familiar with those, you could basically have one key for “space”, one key for “delete previous note”, and optionally one key for “note-off”. This way, you can use one hand to enter the notes via midi-keyboard and the other hand to systematically enter the notes. If the command-keys are conviently put, it will be comfortable to enter the bassline or maybe some chords.

I’ve tried doing this but I’m not sure of what to do, since the note-off is the tab-key (to the left of the keyboard), deleting the previous note could be done by using the up-key (which is to the right on the keyboard) and spacing could be done by using the delete-key. They’re not in the range of one hand and it doesn’t feel convenient to map them, but maybe I can figure out a way to do this.

Another way to enter notes is to play the track, hit the scroll-lock (follow mode) and the esc-key (record) and start playing. I think this could work better than it currently does. Of course it depends on how you setup Renoise, if you record note-offs, if you use the chord-mode or not, if you record note-delays or not and so on, but I still haven’t found a good way to for example play a bassline and make it sound somewhat decent. Even if I turn off chord-mode, turn off note-off, turn off record note-delays and play close to the beat, notes will still disappear or be overwritten. I think it’s because Renoise enter the notes into the step that is playing, without doing any quantization really. If I hit the key a little too early (so I’m still into the last step) it will be entered there instead of the step I aimed at. Purely logical, but also irritating since humans are not computers and doesn’t have exact timing. :)

Sometimes I wish that Renoise would enter the chord-notes with a priority from low to high, so if I struck a chord (all on the same step) the lowest note would appear on the first row, and so on. I understand why they appear in timing-order, but it would nevertheless be cool if it was possible, so it resembles more of how you enter chords by keyboard (atleast I enter chords from lowest to highest note).

I’d like to hear how you work with Renoise using MIDI. For the most of the time, I enter the notes by keyboard like everyone else and it’s great when making beats and other stuff, but I sometimes miss the convenience basslines, piano and other stuff which sometimes is a lot easier to do by playing than the trial-and-error-thing on the computer-keyboard. Have you got some tricks or workflows on how to do this easier?

Yeah, real-time recording is a nightmare isn’t it! I can only do realtime recording on most my sampler/workstations, but I can set that to quantize everything it records to 16ths and get it right 99% of the time… As you say, it seems that with Renoise it’s not rounding properly, so notes and note-off always seem somewhat unpredictably placed - altho could be this terrible MIDI timing on PC’s I’m always on about; I get shocking performance on the MIDI outs anyway; much worse with Vista… (of course you can record note delays - but then you know you’re going to have to do a bit of cleaning up anyway!)

I’d say I do 90% of it with the QWERTY keyboard (mostly Z tbh) and the cursor keys… If I know what I want to record, I just go into edit mode and zoom around tapping notes in off the keyboard - tap in the octaves manually, etc…

I’d still say it’s faster than Cubase for me… I always spend ages editing note lengths and velocities in SX… If the music I was doing wasn’t quite heavily looped/programmed, I’d use a sequencer better suited to taking live recordings I think… But then, you do interesting things with both approaches.

J Swift : Actually “rounding” is a good term. To point out the difference between traditional midi-sequencers and recording midi into Renoise, I made this cheap illustration: :)

Quantize will move the note to the nearest step, whereas it seems Renoise puts the note into the currently playing step, even though it could be very close to the next step. I think changing this could make a big improvement on the MIDI-recording.

i find realtime recording work better with higher speeds and resolutions in renoise, as an example; speed 1, 330 bpm, 512 patter lines.

then i think it’s quite easy to just drag’n’drop/move around the notes that were misplaced after recording, fine adjusting stuff - or if you like, manually quantizing.

this way of working is quite time consuming, but i like to have more natural and closer control over the notes, instead of just auto quantizing a pattern to death. but however, with such high resolution the CPU really gets a workout. for some strange reason - if a song contains 10-20 patterns, audio starts stuttering and choking if i try to record realtime. the funny thing is that the notes DO get placed right, it’s just that I can’t really hear what’s going on in the stutter-chaos.

but i guess all of this will maybe be improved in renoise in the future, with the subtick system or whatever that comes, and maybe a quantizing tool?

One thing that might be useful as an option in a future version is to automatically add Delay Note effect command to notes that end up between lines.


--- ..--- .. D-500 4F 0D04  
--- ..--- .. D#500 4B ----  
--- ..--- .. --- .. ----  
--- ..--- .. D-500 5B ----  
--- ..--- .. --- .. ----  
--- ..--- .. A#400 43 ----  
--- ..--- .. --- .. ----  
A#300 50--- .. C-500 40 ----  
--- ..--- .. --- .. ----  
--- ..F-400 51--- .. 0D01  


click on the 6th icon from left, on the top

@It-Alien: Me love you long time! I’ve always thought that just looked like a record button (despite the obvious record button to the left of it) so it never even occured to me to check the tooltip of that button. Cheers from this humbled nublet :)