MIDI Improvements

I have been playing around with Renoise lately and I’m pretty impressed by its MIDI support when compared to other trackers. I’m an old IT2 user and while I’ve been using cubase and cakewalk extensively during the past years, I am not a keyboard player and the piano roll / mouse approach is killing my productivity - still I want to use the samples from my synth since I paid good money for it. So I’m on a quest to find a new tool that will let me track MIDI efficiently; Renoise is the clear winner so far.

However there are a couple of problems that really made me lose a ton of time, and perhaps a few simple tweaks to the interface would help this a ton.

  1. The MIDI Instrument page should probably have separate “CC00” and “CC32” controls instead of a “Bank” one. Just as an example, I have a pgrm I want to use that’s on CC0:84, CC32:2. After lots of playing around, I realize I have to set Bank to “10755” in order to reach that point (!). I mean, I can do the math, but it would be simpler to be able to set CC0 and CC32 separately, as I could simply look up the values in my synth’s manual and punch them in…

  2. In Edit -> Preferences, when “Pgrm Change” is ticked, you can see that changing patches on the keyboard changes the “Program” number in the MIDI Instrument page. But it doesn’t translate the CC00/CC32 back to the bank! If I can do the math, so can Renoise ;)

So then I discovered about the “*Instr MIDI Control” track device. So I thought: let’s map CC00/CC32 there, it will be easier! And yeah, it was more straightforward this way but then when I reloaded my song this morning, I was sad to find out that Renoise did not set the controllers back :( And after a few tests I found out that it was because my track was muted!!! This means that, for the path changes etc to work properly, you need to save your song with all tracks un-muted, and then reload it: that’s really annoying! So:

  1. It could be useful to add a short setting page for each item in the Instr MIDI Control device with some options:
  • “Always set value before playing”, a life saver really! Each time you press “Play”, the CC’s value is set.
  • “Ignore track mute status”, so that it’s always set to that value regardless.
  • A "depends on " so that I can set some sort of order/grouping (you must set CC00/32 before changing the program for it work). I would set Pgrm depends on CC32 which depends on CC0, for instance…
  • You should be able to edit the range of the slider. For instance so that it goes from 1-n instead of 0-n. To allow -64, 0, +64 and also to allow “switches” like {1, 2, 3}. (Yeah I know, GURU has it, I’ll have to try and create my synth’s definition some day)
  1. A way to send the controller’s value to the synth again. The only way to send the value is either to load the song, or to change the CC value and set it back - that’s annoying. There should be a button (or a mouse click type, i dunno) on each item to send the value to the synth without having to change it / set it back.

  2. New effect commands to slide the parameters of the Instr MIDI Control (or any device really). In my scenario, I want to fade out strings manually. Of course, a volume slide won’t work since it’s mapped to velocity in the case of MIDI. I have to use the volume CC of that channel and set it in absolute value (which means: I can’t adjust my volume later on because absolute values won’t scale relatively). It would be great to be able to slide a controller’s value up or down instead - then if I decide to lower the inital volume value of the channel, the fade outs should adapt since they won’t be in absolutes… I thought I could “hack” it using the Hydra device, but unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. Maybe Hydra needs a way to apply a % value to a slider instead of absolute (e.g.: If “Volume” is to 64 and I set hydra to 50%, i’d like to have “32” and not “64”…)

  3. A way to set a control item to “OFF” without getting rid of the CC number! Please! :)

All in all, improving the bank/program selection, having a way to have the Instr MIDI Control ignore track mutes and having a way to send all MIDI Control values again to the synth would be a real time saver.

MIDI is definitely a weak point of Renoise right now compared to any other DAW.

Something else I just realized: when you change the “linked instrument” of the *Instr MIDI Control, it sends all controller values to the newly linked instrument… I just duplicated a track, moved it far away and clicked “linked instrument” a couple times to “reach” the new instrument… doh!

Hm, you are basically encountering a number of issues here, mostly having to do with when/if a device should fire it’s values.
And yes, it’s tricky to say when a slider should do such a thing.

There is however a wholly different approach to this, as you can also enter MIDI commands straight into patterns:

Perhaps more simple and straightforward in your particular case?
In Renoise 3.0, it’s possible to have a instr. phrase contain these MIDI effects too, so you can ‘package’ often used sequences into a single instrument if you want to.