I'm Horrible At Maths...

hello i’ve been using reason for years to make electronic music. i’ve not exactly rich and i don’t even own a midi controller. my setup has always consisted of a laptop, headphones, monitors and soundcard. whenever i can afford to purchase a new laptop it is usually not top of the line. so i run reason out of necessity.

recently though i’ve started to get interested in other daws available on the market. i became intrigued by renoise but have no idea how to use it. i’m reading the quickstart manual now after having the demo installed on my computer for about a month.

i just have a few questions.

first of all i’m not really computer savvy and that is one of the main appeals of reason to me. it acts like a hardware setup so to speak. i’ve also read on another forum that unless you are good at maths you won’t be able to properly grasp “hex” which i’m assuming is something to do with renoise.

secondly. my style of production has always relied more on sound design more so than composition. obviously composition is important in my work but i’ve always placed more emphasis on actually creating the sounds. from what i gather renoise seems to be pretty much hailed in chiptune and breakcore. 2 scenes that place a large emphasis on composition. i’m just wondering is this true? basically i’m wondering would there be any cough “standard” techno or electronic artists doing music with renoise.

i’m sorry if my questions seem horribly noobish but i’m just starting out learning about trackers and i really know nothing about them.

srsly, don’t worry about the hex stuff. it’s there to set delay and such but rarely do you need to break out the calculator.

havin something like this on a note will give you a feel for the numbers.

hex -> dec  
a 10  
b 11  
c 12  
d 13  
e 14  
f 15  
10 16  
20 32  
40 64  
80 128  
A0 160  
C0 192  
100 256  

if you are on windows and need an exakt value then use the calculator (switch to advance more) either…

  1. enter then decimal number you want to know in hex and then check the hex checkbox and done

  2. check the hex checkbox and enter the number you want in dec and then check the dec checkbox.

hope that helps.

I would just say, just get yourself a bit at ease by watching this video:
This video brings you a good picture how to transfer to a tracker environment from a piano-roll environment. You may skip the most beginner stuff if you desire.

The hex thing is not too hard to learn quickly, in most cases. What Maes already says, you usually don’t have to pull out the calculator all the time to make music in Renoise.
Recording notes in Renoise does not require knowledge of hex either, you can simply tap them in and they will be positioned for you, with the help of the quantize function or without.

People most definitely use Renoise for genres other than breakcore/chiptune! I don’t touch that stuff! I make a mix of dubstep, techno etc…check my my space to hear as its all in renoise…also check out keith303, beatslaughter, and botb as they all do amazing house, techno, dnb, big beat etc!!

Don’t worry about composition and stuff. There are no right or wrong way to make a song. If it sounds the way you want it to, then that is the right way. There are always more than one way to reach the goal. Your way might differ from someone elses.

Keep tracking and make music the way you want it to be. :walkman:

And as far as Hexadecimal numbers goes, I don’t always break out my calculator to figure out the right exact number. Most times I just put in an arbitrary number and if it sound wrong I try another one. Then after a while you get a feel for it and it’ll come naturally. All I need to know is that FF is max and 00 is zero.

Most important for me is to have fun making a song. Play around and let the creative mojo do the job.


Renoise, as any other complete music composition software, can be used to create almost any music genre.

I’ve used it to create ambient, classical, electronica, progressive rock, odd dance, metal, experimental, psychedelic, jazz, and people use it for even more genres.

The fact that Renoise is widely used by breakcore artists is due to the fact that one of the most reknown breakcore artists, Venetian Snares, is a Renoise user, but Renoise can easily be used to create anything else.

my tip for dealing with hexadecimal numbers easily is to start with the leftmost digit: the rightmost one is usually used for nuances, so you could start to familiarize with hexadecimals using just the first one.

One of the main advantages of hex is that it fits the 4*(4/4) beats structure perfectly, so for example:
00 first beat
04 second beat
08 third beat
0C fourth beat

in general, when you have to work with a command which range is 00…FF:
00 minimum
40 a quarter
80 an half
C0 three quarters
FF maximum

when you have to work with a command which range is 00…80 (the volume column, for example):
00 minimum
20 a quarter
40 an half
60 three quarters
80 maximum

when the 00…80 range expresses a panning value:
00 full left
20 mid left
40 center
60 mid right
80 full right

start with these key values, then you will find yourself working with more accurate values in a natural way.

I don’t know hex math either, don’t worry about it.

  • D - H

  • 0 - 0
  • 1 - 1
  • 2 - 2
  • 3 - 3
  • 4 - 4
  • 5 - 5
  • 6 - 6
  • 7 - 7
  • 8 - 8
  • 9 - 9
  • 10 - A
  • 11 - B
  • 12 - C
  • 13 - D
  • 14 - E
  • 15 - F

I once learned hex (base-16) in school, came out handy after all. Lol. I’ll learn you a little trick that is going to make it yourself really easy to get hex numbers into normal dec numbers.
If you have a hex number of two symbols, you multiply the first symbol with 16 and simply add the following symbol…

hex 50 = dec 80 (516+0)
hex 64 = dec 100 (6
hex 96 = dec 150 (916+6)
hex B4 = dec 180 (B
16+4) (B is 11)
hex C8 = dec 200 (C*16+8) (C is 12)


When you have a hex of more than two symbols it’s easy as well. For example 325 it’s just the same trick, you only get the exponent of the 16 one higher each time there’s an extra symbol: 316^2 (so 31616) + 216 + 5 and you’ll get 805 in decimal. Easy as that… :P
So if you’ve got something easy as hex 50 the right mathematical formulation had to be 516^1 + 016^0.

Uhm… we use hex so we WON’T need calculators, right…? :confused:

We’ll I’ve just learned hexadecimal before I goto high school. I knew renoise when I’m was a 6th grader and when I stepped into first year high school, some parts in renoise is rapidly getting noticeable to me especially the hexadecimal counting the scope trigonometry. I’m 13 years old by now and 2nd year Science high school. It’s just our human ordinary order of things.

thanks for all the replies!!

i haven’t had to do anything maths related since i left school 2 years ago so i’ve been trying to get my head around this for a bit.

so hex is basically just another way of counting but only using single digits
ie. 0-9 a-f?

also i’ve started to use renoise and i’m using it on 4 lines per beat. is there any advantage to switching this to something else?

as i’ve been busy a lot lately i haven’t had much time to sit down with the program but after reading a bit of the quickstart tutorial and messing around in the program i think i’ve been able to gather a few things.

renoise works like a pattern sequencer. am i correct in thinking you build different patterns and then arrange them together to make a song.

0-63 is 4 bars. as there is no piano roll the notes are entered on the grid. although initially it seems as if there is less room for “humanisation” as there are less places in the grid compared to a piano roll (which do 1/64 or 1/128 values per bar) putting in the command 0dxx is used to offset samples. (that was explained horribly, i’m hoping that people here are know this program and therefore can decipher my cryptic language).

the program seems light on cpu too which is a huge plus for me.

personally i really love working with step sequencers. my favourite part of composition is drum programming and although i’ve only spent a tiny bit with renoise i see the “grid” interface as a kind of much more advanced step sequencer. something i am very happy with.

have i totally got that wrong?

i have two more questions. is there any advantage with having the preferences for the position number format in hex rather than decimal? also are there any major advantages a piano roll offers or are there any areas where a tracker is at a major disadvantage to a piano roll, or are they both just types of sequencing with different interfaces?

i’m just playing around with renoise now. just creating some random loops. i have the pattern editor on block and something just struck me. from 1-15, i can obviously only have 16 samples. on the 4 lines per beat setting does that mean that the maximum number of notes you can have in one bar is 16 (without counting another track) or am i missing something extremely simple? i understand that the lines per beat go up to 256 but tbh i don’t fully understand how all that works yet…


Slight off topic regarding drawing your own samples…



yes, basically hexadecimal is a numbering system with 16 digits. The decimal system is just one of the infinite possible systems, and we probably adopted it just because we have 10 fingers on the hands (well, usually).

there could be two reasons for a change:

  1. you are not making 4/4 music, in which case different beat lengths are almost compulsory (for example 6 for 6/4)
  2. you are in need of more “pattern resolution”, id est: more events per beat

take into consideration that a pattern can have any length from 1 to 512 rows:

in this image you see how to change the current pattern length

for example, 48 is a good length for 3/4 simple music, 96 for 6/4 or for complaex 3/4 music

you got it.

with what I said about pattern length in mind, now you should have understood that the above is false: you can actually have even up to 256 lines per beat in a pattern.

also take a look at the delay column for a finer humanization, and to advanced edit for simpler tasks.

not really. it’s more a matter of consistence with the hex choice, but in general hex numbers are more compact because you can display numbers up to 255 with only two digits (the greatest two-digits number in hexadecimal is FF, which is equal to 255 in decimal)

first of all, we tracker users are generally biased about the advantages of a tracker interface over a piano roll: we find it to be a much more precise, informative and powerful interface than the pianoroll. However, there is three fields where the pianoroll has advantages:

  1. of course is more easily understandable by a musician (piano musician above all)
  2. gives an easier overview about the track
  3. makes selection and transposition easier

Regarding notable artists using Renoise - Depeche Mode used Renoise at some point in making of their latest album Sound of the Universe