Complete beginner wants to cut notation editor out of most of workflow

Hi, I am a complete beginner to the world of DAWs. I have used LMMS a bit, but mainly stick to my go to notation editor - MuseScore. I find in my workflow that I sometimes work better entering notes for the individual instruments, but when I am stuck, working from a pattern in a DAW helps me to search for the right notes, tone, atmosphere that I need for a song. Importing and exporting between a notation editor and a DAW is a bit of a pain, so I am hoping to be able to cut out the notation editor for most of my workflow. I have been looking at a number of video tutorials and postings in the forum , but I still am not sure if Renoise can do what I want. Here is what I need to know - how do I do the following?

  1. Enter notes of varying length on a per track basis by using key command shortcuts? In MuseScore, I can press “4” for a quarter note, press “c” for a C note and then press ctrl arrow (up-down) to switch octave. Is anything like this possible either out of the box or to set up in Renoise?
  2. Both MuseScore and LMMS can use soundfonts, so I would need a simple, good quality and cheap alternative to soundfonts for Renoise. Orchestral and classic rock instruments.
  3. There will be times when I will need to import and export from Renoise - either as tracks or full songs. There appears to be some .mid support in Renoise, but I am unsure if the XML that Renoise uses is what MuseScore and other programs refer to as MusicXML (either compressed or uncompressed).
  4. Can the value (tone and length) of individual notes be changed in a way similar to a piano roll view?

Renoise looks really great, I hope it is possible to get it to work the way I need. I mainly use Linux, but also have a Mac and Windows machines, so the only alternative to Renoise that I can think of for my needs is Overture 5 or Reaper.

I can help you with one thing. Use the “off” button (Caps lock) after writing your notes or chords to control the length. Play around with it’s position until your find your desired length. As for tonality, the fine-tune option on the instruments settings should come in handy.

  1. You can navigate or scroll up and down in the editor via step length keyboard shortcut or the F9 to F12 keys or via mouse wheel or a slower arrow Up and Down.

The step length is a really fast way to change your edit step for a particular voice/note column. Assign a keyboard shortcut that works for you, say Ctrl++ ad Ctrl±. If you have a gaming mouse/keyboard you can try to assign additional one click macros to them. You also leverage this for repetitive note entry like 16ths or 32nds, just press the key and hold it down and Renoise will populate the track and note column with you desired note sequence. Name another DAW which does this. Geist has something called grid pattern templates where you choose from preset and user saved patten data ‘shapes’ for a particular sample pad lane. But that is a sample slicer and drum programmer plugin, not Renoise, and every thing has to be done via the mouse, again not like Renoise.

Using the Renoise editor is mostly a mental thing. You set the lines and ticks and patten length according to the required measure and then work in that zone as efficiency as possible. If you use your computer keyboard you can focus on note entry just like a midi keyboard. If you use a midi keyboard it is even better for sake of human timing and bulk entry. When using your computer keyboard, just use the octave up and down keyboard shortcuts ‘before’ you enter a note or chord. Just like a midi controller you change octaves during the edit phase. To post edit in bulk you have the note and track transpose keyboard shortcuts that allow in single or octave increments.

The caps lock key sets the note off position, whereas the note lengths themselves are ‘on’ for the entire duration of the pattern by default as long as there is no other note cutting it of or a caps lock is present. This effectively simplifies your note entry having you to think about one parameter less.

This is all via keyboard shortcuts. For other editing like instrument swapping and nudging the advanced editor opens up towards the right where you have a menu and radio buttons to choose from and apply the edits.

Combining live midi keyboard note entry, computer keyboard note entry, computer keyboard shortcuts for every routine edits and an advanced edit selection menu, I don’t know any other DAW editor which does this as fast.

  1. AFAIK soundfonts are supported in Renoise and in any case various convertors and sample packs are widely available.

3.Midi import support is actually very good in Renoise with channel splits and note timings well preserved. However for back and forth import, the format are compatible but in the translation process some compatibility issues might arise. Its best to test this yourself with note sequences and see how it works. You can easily use Overture or similar to enter note via sheet view and piano roll and just import it to Renoise as a midi or MusicXML file, copy paste the data from the pattern editor etc.