IT-alike Playback View: Show Which instruments Played Back

As a new user I am so far very impressed with the feature set of Renoise, and am considering buying the full version.

However, one of the features I really liked about Impulse Tracker, and have so far found missing in every “modern” tracker that I have subsequently tried, was the “playback view”. Amongst other things, this view displayed the currently-playing instrument alongside the VU meters of each track.

Renoise provides views with some of the Playback View’s features, such as the Mixer which shows the VU meter, and the individual track scopes, but I have not found any view which shows the currently-playing instruments. This was useful to me in Impulse Tracker for two reasons:

  1. When playing a new song, it gives an idea of which instruments are used to achieve a certain effect. If there was an interesting sound, you could easily see what instrument(s) were being used to produce this. In modern trackers such as Renoise that do not have this view, it would be necessary to use the pattern editor to solo each track in turn, find where the particular sound was being produced, and then examine the information in that track to find the instrument.
  2. Playing an entire song in the Playback View made it very obvious if there was a sustaining sample that I had forgotten to turn off at the beginning of a subsequent pattern – you could see the instrument continuing even if the sound wasn’t immediately obvious. This is much harder to detect if all you have available is a pattern editor and VU meters without instrument names.

Is there a possibility of adding a view with currently-playing track instruments into Renoise? Is this something that has been suggested before? Or is there already such a feature and I just haven’t located it yet?

one of the threads containing this suggestion is this. it contained a nice design picture which unfortunately is no more online

From the descriptions it doesn’t look like that suggestion is for the same feature. Although a checkbox against each instrument in the instrument view would also be useful, the feature I am specifically interested in is the view that shows which instrument is currently playing on each track, alongside each track’s VU meter.

I.e. instead of seeing “Track 1 is playing at -6db” you would see “Track 1 is playing instrument hi-hat-closed at -6db”.

I can probably fire up Impulse Tracker in a Dos Box emulator for a screenshot if it would be useful.

sorry for the misunderstanding.

yes, please do a screenshot. I can’t imagine a concise way to show this, so I think this would require an entire new view panel?

Sure, I will do a screenshot when I get back to my home PC. A simple ASCII-based mockup:

bass-drum |||||||||||||||||||||||  
hihat-closed ||||||  
bass-synth |||||||||||||||  
whatever |||||||||  

I can think of a few of ways this might fit into the Renoise interface:

  1. Quick and dirty solution: add each playing instrument name to the individual track scopes in the top panel. Probably not too hard to implement, but not a very satisfactory solution because the eye would have to scan over a large area very quickly to detect the changing information.
  2. Add a new “tab” to the top panel to display this information in the IT-style horizontal format (instrument and VU meter). This fits in with the concept of the top panel being used for playback information, but there might be a problem with available screen space if you had a lot of tracks (which would expand downwards, line by line).
  3. Add a new screen to the main central window, displaying the information in pretty much the same was as IT. This would suit me very well, but you might feel it is excessive to add a new screen just for this.
  4. Add the instrument names to the existing panels in the Mixer screen, using the current layout. This might be difficult due the horizontal layout and the resulting narrow width of each track which don’t really accomodate the addition of textual information.
  5. Combine (3) and (4) by providing an option to switch the Mixer screen into a vertical layout (with horizontal VU meters), and add the instrument names in here.

Thanks, that will save me some time. Yes, that is exactly the screen I am talking about. Instruments are displayed for each track, along with a rough idea of the volume via VU meter, panning information and a cut-down scrolling pattern view.

Maybe a good way to present similar information in Renoise would be to add a new view screen at the top with the instrument/track view, but with a More button like the Disk Browser has which would expand the view screen downwards so as to shrink (but not completely obscure) the Pattern Editor. This would allow for more tracks to be shown, along with the playing pattern information like IT does.

So the middle section is current instrument playing in the track yeah? That’s really going to get messy if you have more than one instrument playing in a track at a time!

I think if instruments overlapped due to NNAs, IT would only display the most recent instrument. Consideration would of course need to be given to the fact that Renoise supports sub-tracks whereas IT didn’t; they could be grouped together but one would have decide whether it was better to automatically shift other tracks up and down when multiple subtracks started/stopped playing, which might be hard to follow, or to just expand the track and leave it expanded which might use up too much space.

You can also try Revisit, wich you can use a VST plugin inside Renoise :)

Scratch that; I didn’t realise at the time that multiple note columns exist throughout the entire song. They can be treated as separate tracks for the purposes of this feature.

Having become more familiar with the Renoise workflow, I am starting to understand why other people don’t seem to be clamouring for this view: it was more important in older trackers with limited numbers of tracks, where you had to re-use tracks for multiple instruments. With Renoise you put each instrument (or collection of related instruments) on a single track, in order to apply the necessary effects and mixing, so the confusion about which instruments are playing is not as great.

Would still be nice for playing back other people’s songs, though. :)

Frankly, note colums are not seperate tracks -> all effects in the DSP chain are applied to all note-columns, not just one single note-column.
Only the pan/vol/delay column are applied to the linked note-column and then it also matters whether we are dealing with sample based Renoise instruments or VSTIs, as VSTIs are more limited to note-specific command control than sample-based instruments.

I said that they could be treated the same for the purpose of this feature (although possibly with some subtle visual distinction like thinner gridlines between note columns), not that they are the same in general.

I would love to have this feature too! I loved this in SchismTracker, you did know what is going on in your song without listening to it multiple times.