Happy New Renoiser

This was initially to be a response in the Venetian Snares - could he do it in Cubase? thread. But it’s a bit long. Short story : the only computer audio software I’ve used since my Amiga died in the mid nineties has been related to generative synthesis and mangling, or generative sequencing (where patterns can influence patterns can influence patterns). I recently tried to use more traditional DAWs and such for sequencing, and it wasn’t working out. Too plastic, too static, too much work to make something sound consistent yet throw in wild variation… And then I discovered Renoise and found a connection back to where I had started with MED, a DJ mixer, and a handful of tapes. Bliss.

Anyways, the long story:

I’m new to Renoise. I’ve come from a world of electro-acoustic / tape collage / generative music (such as it is). I started in the mid nineties doing multitracking by using a DJ mixer and swapping tapes : record a layer, take the tape out of the recorder and put it in the player, put the player’s tape in the recorder, hit play/record and add another layer. And that was a step up from the poorly spliced headphone ends I started with. Ah, but that was fun…

Anyways, I used MED / OctaMED back then on my Amiga 500. I’d often use it for drones, and loved how smoothly it could shift pitch in samples. And I think it had a loop editor so you could line up the start and ends for that smooth butter taste. I loved it. That Amiga’s life was cut short by a clumsy friend. That was… late 94? 95?

I quickly swore off using computers for music after that. Nothing (at least in my price range) at the time that I knew about could come close to doing what I could do with the Amiga and MED. At the end of 1999, I learned about SuperCollider 2 (a real time DSP/synth programming language, mac only at the time), and that was the first time I had that old feeling back.

Over the past few years, I’ve used similar things. Mostly for non-rhythmic music. Sometimes it’s harsh noise, done through a wildly wired set of guitar pedals and small analog synth modules (Moogerfooger, Metasonix). For a while, I had been disgusted enough with the computer again that all I used were those analog tools. But about a year ago, I think I had done most of what I wanted to do, I burnt out, and output stopped. Occasionally I’d monkey around with Reaktor 5, but that’d be about it. Until recently: I started playing with some breakbeats in Reaktor 5, and made a lovely house/dnb-ish piece, which made me thirst for more. I’d always enjoyed Drum’n’Bass / Breakcore / whatever. It comes closest, I think, to the wild fun chaotic sonically aggressive nature of good Harsh Noise : more so than a lot (but not all) of so-called ‘power noise’. I’d been buying new controllers, got a Pro Tools LE system put together (I love Pro Tools for audio editing), even bought Battery 3 to have a decent drum instrument and starter library.

It’s the first time I’ve tried to go structured in years. And it sucked. Pro Tools was never impressive as a midi environment, so I tried putting some beats together in Garage Band and Live Lite. And it sucked. At most I could hope I could throw some Reaktor or Soundhack or some of my own little audio-mangler scripts at the results to get them sounding better to my noise-tuned ears. But it just wasn’t working out. So I started looking around online for any tips or base articles about how this stuff is produced. It was while reading about Venetian Snares, whom I quite like, that I read about Renoise. And then I saw the connections back to MED. I hadn’t thought about trackers in years! I didn’t even know that there were other programs like MED.

So I downloaded Renoise and after a couple of days of looking at it, I purchased it and used it to completely redo a submission for a local compilation. The piece was initially four minutes of squealing noise. Too high pitched, not aggressive enough. I chopped it up into tiny samples and loaded those into Renoise. I was able to get it all moving and feeling a lot faster, skipping over the dead spots entirely. I mixed in some of the break patterns I had been working on, did this across a couple of patches, dumped those to audio, and then re arranged them a bit more in Pro Tools. The track went from very boring (to me) to very exciting over the course of a (long) evening: yay Renoise!

It’s obvious that the “piano roll” sequencers have little or no appeal to me. I tried! I’m very glad to have Renoise in my tool chest. It fits my broken brain completely.