Turning People On To Trackers In General

I’ve got this one friend who refuses to use trackers, but he also pretty much refuses to use any music program that isn’t Opcode Vision from the 80’s. So I keep trying to sort of “sell” him on the idea of a tracker, mostly since I’m almost equally stubborn about using a piano roll to work on projects with him.

So what are your experiences working with these “piano-roll” people? Is it just a matter of being flexible yourself, or do you try and convert people to trackers? And if you do try and convert people to trackers, what’s your level of success? What do you say? How do you go about teaching them?

The most technical studio engineer I’ve met was interested in trackers, but only in a gee-wiz kind of way. So my feeling is that piano-roll enthusiasts either are too entrenched in their particular environment to switch, or look at Renoise and see a very technical, hot-key driven, complicated program.

My opinion is that trackers are/were designed for electronic music, where you have to be able to look at automation as much or even more then notation, whereas a piano-roll is used to simulate traditional styles of music, and hence it more closely resembles a staff and devotes more screen real-estate to notation.

The problem these days, especially in my kind of field of interest of music (dubstep/d&b/electro, etc) is that people use what all the big artists use because they think since their favourite artists are using them they must be the best. The amount of times I’ve heard someone defend Ableton by saying " but skrillex uses it. " is unreal…

so until more high profile artists start using it not a lot will change i don’t think. again, in terms of my musical interests, only one ‘big’ artist uses renoise… B-Complex!

I think, it probably comes down to the same age old fight among the unix hackers: which the best text editor? vim? emacs? joe? sex? And it kind of mostly comes down to what people were taught or what they ultimately got accustomed to.

When I started out, I wrote my own MIDI sequencer, which had a piano roll. Then I tried Ableton, found that it somehow sucked out my inspiration. Then I found Renoise, and it kind of reignited the spark if inspiration in me. I sometimes miss the piano roll, I miss the graphical display of melodies. Their shape when they rise and the steps and leaps in them. I’m a very visual person somehow. But on the other hand, I’m also a coder at heart and love to work with text, here Renoises tracker interface presents many advantages. Keeping the overview over many small musical events.

I don’t think converting people is not a good goal. I rather show people trackers, and how I work with it. And how quick something can be done. Then you can recommend them to try it out themselves, maybe with you sitting next to them. But ultimately he has to decide what he wants to work with. If he prefers Ableton because his favorite Artist of the hour uses it, then it’s his choice, isn’t it? If he is just starting out, then almost any DAW is fine from Renoise to Fruity Loops.

The best way to turn people on to trackers is making great music and showing off your Renoise Studio in the interviews. That way you raise attention. Of course it also helps to just say it whenever you can. “Cool, you use Ableton? I use Renoise, looks like a spread sheet, but it works great for me, listen to my tracks!” :slight_smile:

Well, wouldn’t Fruity Loops be better then? It got a view like this, where you can easily see multiple automations at once:

Just be careful with “I use this and that because it is better for …”-claims, when it comes down to it, you might just trackers because you are used to it! There is maybe more electronic used made in Fruity Loops, Ableton, Cubase or Logic than in all trackers together.

Raise attention, thats important. Try to get people interested, show them “look, how easily you can take a sample and make some great tune from it.”, or “how easy i get my ideas down”. Those things tend to raise their interest much more than arguing “well, this and that is better because of reasons A, B, C.”.

What people choose to use is their own business. There is plenty of information out there about the alternatives. Open the doorways if someone has a genuine interest, otherwise you’re imposing your point of view on others. You cannot create interest by force.

Yeah, I know “convert” is not a very diplomatic word to use, but I want to be very clear that it is for my own selfish reasons that I want to convert my musician friends to trackers. You’re right that I tout trackers because I’m used to them, but it does seem to take some coaxing to get people to wrap their heads around notation that is not left to right like most languages.

No doubt you’re also right about electronic music being made more on popular DAW’s, I was just sorta thinking out loud about how trackers got designed in the first place (demo scene, etc.). Dunno about FL though, the graphical automation looks nice, but how accurate is it? You can’t get more accurate then a number.

The problem is that this guy can’t use the program he really wants because it has to run on Mac OS 9 and have equally old hardware. Not trying to create interest by force, but merely by lack of him having anything or anyone else with a music studio who knows anything about electronic music. Plus I guess he likes my tunes enough to want to see how I work…

I would love to see more YouTube Videos featuring someone building a Track in Renoise :) Best mixed with tags and keywords like “dance music”, “trance”, “hard beat”. I currently don’t know how to, or else I would probably make some video.

just tell him to keep it vertical.

Aha, so Venetian Snares has no meaning to you? (he has no meaning to me though, but he seems to have a pretty big name)

^ well, it kinda depends on what you call ‘high profile’. if you listen to breakcore and stuff, then you can’t really miss Venetian Snares. he’s the biggest name in the genre. but when i was on the train one day, listening to his music, a girl who heard it leaking from my earphones asked if it was Aphex Twin. nobody knows what he uses.

The answer is simple in those cases:Yeah, and they use Renoise :P

Different kind of folks, different kind of music… different kind of tools. You just can’t sell trackers to everyone because of their inner nature. That diversity is also creating a diversity in approaches to music composition and mixing. And only important thing is final result, not the tools itself. At least not for the ones who listen to your music.
Sometimes tracking is just what I want, sometimes it isn’t, so I use other tools. But I have started making music on trackers, and love the approach for so much things you can do with it. And I know it’s limits and problems.

I believe in the moment Renoise’s pattern view will become more graphical and less Excel-like, the people will start to realize it as full DAW. I think of some kind of graphical view like Aodix had plus some kind of audio/sample wave tracks - but NOT like Fruity please. It just looks like a sweet bonbon for childs. Of course it’s not. But it looks like :)

I also believe that even VSTs are choosen very often because the gui looks better, more realistic studio-like whatever.

don’t waste your time trying to convince people to use the tools you find agradable to use; just use them, maybe invite your friend to look at you while working and, if he will think that your workflow is interesting for him, he will get into it, otherwise there is plenty of alternatives outside

Imagine a hardcore muslim trying to convert a hardcore jew, it’s basically impossible. I would certainly never use Cubase ever again unless it has a tracker editor, and I expect the same behaviour from piano roll users unless they are just starting out their musical journey, so if you want to start a PR advertisement then aim it for newbies.

Vim is actually the correct answer


If there’s one thing I’ve learned through using all the DAWs/Trackers ranging from soundtracker2.5/protracker/octamed/cubase/logic/cakewalk/ableton/reaper/renoise is that everything I do sounds like “me”.

It’s not the tool, it’s the person.

Well, except for when I’ve written in MAX/MSP and then it sounds like an alien vomiting into goatse glitched through an fft but yeah… bar that my point was it’s all taste… there is no need to convert people. Trackers aren’t for everyone, they’re not ALWAYS for ME.

That said you should always try new horizons. Yes… You lot too!

The formula is pretty simple really. Video tutorials on YouTube.

The more tutorials that go into detail showing people exactly how to make a track in a certain style; these days that is how people learn to make music especially electronic.