Introducing Step Brother


Maybe slightly off-topic, sorry for that.

I have made some progress for my hardware step sequencer for renoise.

(Larger version)

The idea is that it will work like other DAW controllers, communicating via midi, and then try to make it work with renoise and duplex. Don’t know if it’s possible at all, but I will find out eventually :slight_smile:

(Oh, and hey renoise team, I would really like to be able to trigger notes via scripting. Not crucial, but it would be nice)

I got it pretty much thought out. How it should operate, the parts, electronic components and assembly. What is left is actually building it and programming arduino + getting duplex/renoise to work, and realize casing and design.

Read more at my blog
Please check it out, drop a comment there, and subscribe if you’re interested. That is where I will announce the progress.

Ok, feel free to comment, and drop me suggestions etc!

Hey! That’s a really cool project! I’m a DIYer myself and I’ll be really glad if you succeed and wish you good luck with it!


was hoping this would be a script lol, stop teasing dude.

I find it interesting that you deliberately choose to assign specific instruments (bassdrum, clap, etc.) when you are dealing with a controller that, in theory, could control any kind of sound source. You are planning to have this direct correlation between the control and the sound source, which I think is really interesting - making the software work more like a hardware unit.

Now, if you are planning to use this with software drum-machines, it should be noted that there is an industry standard for which keys different drum sounds belong to, but it’s not being applied by everyone so it’s not very usable. What I mean is, if you set up the controller to output a specific note, this might translate to a different drum, depending on the soft-synth you’re using. Or maybe you plan to build specific sample-based Renoise instruments for this purpose?

Hmm… but only one pattern?


Ah, lot’s to explain here i see! Cool!

Well, my thought is;

Intrument = an instrument and a track in renoise.

You either you work with “synth” or “drum” instrument.

The difference is:

Drum = an instrument with a sample assigned to each note (or a vst or anything). It uses columns in the track for each drum/sample/note.

Synth = an instrument that is played on all notes. It needs to be monophonic, and only use a track with one column in renoise.

When you work in drum mode, you press a key on the keyboard and see (and change) what steps it is on.

In synth mode, it’s the other way, you press a step and see (and change) what note is there.

So, the BD1 printed on the controller is just a guideline that will correspond to one of the drum machine “standards”. In practice it can be whatever is played by C3 for example.

And about patterns; I left that out on purpose. The main reason is to keep it simple to realize.

But, also I only kinda left it out. The Shift key in conjuction to the keyboard keys and the step keys could be used for pattern handling.

But there are also lots of other stuff i left out, so my idea is; you do some work in the DAW and some with the unit, it’s not stand alone.

Maybe a future version could be more feature packed. But now I just need to get on and do something that is good enough :slight_smile:

Also, I have tried to keep it DAW neutral. So I guess pattern and track don’t make much sense in Ableton Live or cubase. That’s another reason there is no patterns in there.

Also, I have tried to make it in the sense “What do i want? How do I want it to work?” instead of “How does Renoise work?”. So, then pattern/song/chain handling became too comples to figure out right now… :slight_smile:

really interesting and cool graphics as well.

Looks really cool!

Have you seen this?

Would be cool to see yours in action sometime. Best of luck!

Yo, thanks guys!

Yeah, Europa is one of the inspiration sources. Initally I was thinking of building a stand-alone hardware sequencer, but I realized it would be hard, and stupid because a computer will allways be the best sequencer.

Actually, this project sort of inspires me to resurrect a sequencer I wrote a while back. The form factor is different from this (it’s based around dial/fader input), but some of the ideas might be relevant…

The idea is to have a fundamentally different way of producing the output. With a traditional step-sequencer you enter each step in the sequencer, which is then plotted into the pattern at the present location. A more sophisticated sequencer will do the opposite as well (look for pattern data to display on the controller) - for instance, this is how the Duplex StepSequencer works.

But what I did took the idea a bit further - I added a “performance mode” that you could switch on, which would make the sequencer produce output at all times. So, if you have a lengthy song with many patterns, simply turn on the sequencer and it will record whatever you do (as standard pattern notes & effects), over the duration of the song.

Sound nice, is it software or hardware?

I haven’t taken live usage into account really, maybe because I have no good examples of stuff that works for live usage AND produces a good result, i e makes the song better not worse :slight_smile:

Looks really nice. I like especially the Note-Selection. Inspires me for my StepSequencer Plugin somehow.

What is a “part” and how do you see which instrument/track is selected?


4 parts times 16 = 64 steps. It’s like the loop 1/4 etc button in renoise but with 4 fixed positions. You commonly find this in drum machines and grooveboxes.

Since this i have redesigned the instr selection, so it will be a knob you turn in 10 fixed positions, inspired by a similar knob for sounds in the 808.


Cool project! How are you doing slide in renoise? I think I tried to midi map some stuff a while back, but it didn’t work. I’d love a way to do mc202 style sequencing with any synth.

Hehe, well the thing is, I don’t know yet :slight_smile: I guessed it probably not possible to do that in renoise, but I added the button anyway because I would like that feature, so maybe it will never be implemented? :slight_smile: Anyone knows?

Anyway, I have looked in to the programming part of my solution, and I think I’ve come to the conclusion that the hardware/arduino part will do nothing but sending/recieving midi and lighting up leds, and a renoise script will handle all sequencer functionality and also send/recieve midi. So for example, SB sends midi cc message indicating step button x was pressed, renoise script acts, and sends a cc message over to SB to light up step led x. So renoise is the law.

So, this means, if there will be some kind of slide feature it will not be midi but a command entered by the script in renoise. So, maybe it would be possible to calculate how much to slide if the note before is note x and the one after is note y. Probably right? But it needs to be not just a sample command but for midi/vst instruments as well.