Music Keyboard And Workflow Recomendations


Not sure how everyone’s composing music but that’s the question.
I imagine that for me the best way would be:

  1. Rough composition using a music keyboard, that has built-in samples, styles and effects.

  2. Transfer to Renoise and finetune some stuff, especially timing (not hands of a robot here ;) ), maybe also edit more

  3. Transfer a modified MIDI file back to the keyboard and record the song using the keyboard (and possibly a PC sound card)

  4. Optional - use the recorded wav back in Renoise and yet add some specific stuff, depends.

I’m curious what keyboards do you use with Renoise ? Have been working with Roland EXR E2, quite good overall performance, but a poor sequencer and I failed with transferring the MIDI files to Renoise (it couldn’t read them correctly) and back.

I think that for me a pure MIDI controller is slightly out of consideration at the moment, wanna play with a baby that sounds as is, without assigning MIDI instruments or even booting PC before leaving the bed in the morning, and such (am I not, too lazy? :D )

Yeah, I know that Renoise has quality built-in effects with plenty parameters to tweak, is extensible by VST plugins and can render to wav, have composed several songs in it, but I’m getting little tired of watching the patterns scrolling. Maybe a temporary issue, but would like to try a more “natural” way, i.e. using the kbd while using Renoise rather for the polishment.

Cheers and thanks for comments

Dear Borat,

A few Renoise users on IRC, including myself had a discussion whether or not you were joking. You kinda fell halfway between “Not funny enough to be joking” and “too stupid to be serious”.

To be short, I personally think you are using the wrong software, as your workflow is heavily midi orientated and your attitude towards the pattern editor appears to be negative. In my experience most tracker-folk treat the pattern editor as their primary instrument.

Perhaps you may get more value from Reaper.

Mick :)

You make me sad. I just want to use a music keyboard along with a tracker and have no idea how that works.

Advantages I expect: more convenience, quality sound, richer dynamics.

(There’s no disaffection to patterns from my side except I’d like to be less tied to pattern style editing for a while. I’m pretty used to using a tracker otherwise.)

So what’s you workflow? I have no idea how to use a music keyboard with a tracker.

EDIT: Thanks for the tip on Reaper, it’s just to complicated to learn the new stuff, believe it or not I’ve been using trackers a lot in the past, starting back in the Amiga days, so I want to stay with trackers, but try to evolve on the peripherals used.

andris11, let’s take this slowly shall we?

You want to record your musical ideas into Renoise using a MIDI keyboard? Easy! Just dial up your favourite VST plugin synth or sampler and start recording ideas in via MIDI. If you get stuck at all with this process ask some questions here or try out the tutorials.

If that’s a little too daunting at the moment then you might just want to jot down some ideas using the stock sounds in your keyboard and record them via the sampler as just plain audio. Use the pattern sync feature and you can have the recordings in time with other stuff you may have already programmed.

If all this is seeming a little odd to you maybe you could have a look at some of the demo XRNS files (Renoise songs) to see how other people do it. An approach I have is jamming out ideas on real instruments first, and then later via MIDI or Audio I edit the recordings of these ideas to fit the music.

Does that help at all?

Considering the question itself is “what do you guys do…”

I usually create a rhythmic pattern with my qwerty keys, and basically my pieces become jams on those patterns, including the melodies.

My melodies are usually also programmed pattern by pattern, because it is something I am accustomed to doing from “conventional” tracker programming.

I often use the “render to sample” function (drag over stuff and right click to use) half to save on CPU overhead, and half to make effects more predictable and repeatable (and in one piece, to make a groove that could be easily sliced and manipulated.)

I have an Edirol device with MIDI and a synth I’ve had since I was a teenager (read: made in 1988) that I may be able to use but, by and large I don’t.

Ultimately you just need to do what’s comfortable for you and gets the result you want. Renoise feels like Perl programming in that respect: there are many ways to achieve similar effects, so that no solution is wrong as long as you reach that solution quickly and comfortably. For example, the automation grids replace a lot of stuff I would more likely put in the pattern as effects instructions. “There is more than one way to do it.”

Hope that was helpful. :walkman:

Yeah, sort of. I should have better pointed out that the question should rather be “What you guys do in case using a MIDI keyboard” :)

I’ll be back soon to answer to the tips collected so far, thanks, need a rest today.

Ok, have some little power yet

Certainly :) I’m yet trying to figure out what keyboard to buy.

Actually I’ve run into issues recently

If you feel easy answering some of that, I’d be still curious on clues, unfortunately don’t have the Roland here to try back, however.

Honestly don’t quite get it. Can imagine recording a sound file (you mean a whole melody for example) from the keyboard. But since my fingers won’t get precise timing, it probably couldn’t be used it in the final song anyway… or can the pattern sync do some magic?

Yes, this sounds close to what I’m trying to do.

Am certainly glad havin ideas to consider to this topic :) As a result would like to define requirements for a MIDI keyboard to buy and use with Renoise.

So long

with the new Renoise 2.0 having a delay column it is now capable of very accurate timing for each note you play.

I use midi keyboard usually just to find out what I want to do. I try different chords, play around with melodies and stuff, and later insert the notes into tracker using my keyboard. Yesterday I was using my laptop without midi keyboard in our rehearsal room to edit some track, then I realized how much I miss my midi keyboard (and the second screen), although I rarely enter any notes into renoise with it.

Setting the midi options in the preferences is enough to define what external instrument you use that you need to control.
If you want to let the instrument play a song and send the midi data to Renoise you need to define the channels on your midi device for each instrument and do the same in Renoise.
If you have any way to export the MIDI data from your keyboard to a .MID file, this will make it a lot easier to import your external midi projects into Renoise. (You can load .mid files in Renoise)

If you just want to insert in Renoise what you play, select an instrument (VST/ Sample based / MIDI) and start playing.

You can compensate the delay by changing the delay slider in the Midi instrument panel or if you must adjust the channel/track delay in the mixer panel for your external device.

Midi equipment that delays output is a problem and makes combinations with using samples not very interesting, with Renoise 2.0 this is solved by using those extra delay compensation features. Renoise 1.9.x and lower do not support these options.

Mash in some notes via a MIDI keyboard. Then sit there with the editor to get them all positioned where you want them to be. Roughly right?

use 2.0’s quantize. works great.

Is that really new in 2.0? I remember using this sort of delay years ago with some Renoise ver, used that for triplets for example… don’t see a delay column in 1.9.1 at a glance, but streaming in some MIDI data made one appear, somehow :) However, this is not the functionality that would help to make the melody played on the MIDI keyboard better fit the rythm, which is what I was talking about (more below).

Yeah, the usual keyboard is just not always it .


I see, didn’t know that. Then I seem to have some troubles assingning the channels on the MIDI keyboard, but that’s not a Renoise issue.

Well, that was how I thought I’ll be working. Record style loops and other rather background stuff on the keyboard, export MIDI file, load into Renoise and continue tweaking composition structure, adding melodies and whatever (roughly like that).

I just couldn’t load the exported MIDI files into Renoise, the loaded midi file was obviously mangled, not loaded correctly. The MIDI keyboard I was using has a MIDI 2 logo, is there an issue with that specification?

The good news is that it is now working like that :) When the pattern is scrolling at a proper speed, notes are recorded where expected and I even can record chords. No idea what I was doing wrong before, but now it works.

Important thing: is there a possibility to make Renoise wait for the first MIDI note, before entering the Play/Record state? For good synchronisation.

Is there a way to sync the replay tempo exactly with the tempo of the MIDI keyboard? The metronomes in Renoise and in the keyboard I’m playing with are slightly out of sync after a while, especially at BPM >130 (and speed 6 in Renoise).

Sorry, I don’t quite get what this delay is for anyway…but I don’t seem to need that really…

Exactly. And what I would like is that Renoise would be aligning recorded notes to certain lines only, let’s say each odd line would be allowed to contain a note, that to diminish the human error, I just can’t play precise enough… :wacko:

…would quantize do that? Didn’t find much talking about it on

The button next to “BPM” settings says “Act as MIDI clock slave…”, but it doesn’t seem to have an effect here…

Any difficulties with answering the above? Please…

I sum up the questions here: