Using Phrases and Aliases to reduce note inputs

I have explained how I use Phrases when I make my arrangements in Renoise to a few people.

As an example, I have created a small track for them to inspect, to be able to show what I mean. It’s actually an attempt to cover some parts of Todd Terje’s Inspector Norse.
The reason for choosing this track, is that I feel this gives a very simple view of whats going on.

If anyone is curious, I’ve attached the Renoise file here.
Sinatra_-_Inspector_Norse_Reprise.xrns (2.3 MB)

Note: It’s very basic. For people who have not really touched phrases too much.


I appreciated it! I just discovered Renoise, and learning it is a challenge, I see you Trigger the instr phrase with the Z cmd in the pattern editor, my question is, what do you write at first, the instrument phrase?

What a groove! Thank you!

I always start out in a normal track. Either with a bass line or melody idea I have in my head (or I stumble upon while playing with my synth). Depending on my creativity or will, I often end up with just the one Lead or Bass pattern, not knowing where I’m going next. But usually either two gives me the foundation to create a chord progression that goes along with it.

However. No matter how little I manage to come up with, I always save it for later. And here is where phrases comes in. If I’m stuck, no matter how many bars I’ve ended up with. If it can loop, I save it as a phrase in my User Library vault. At this moment it consist of 1568 individual phrases, sorted into arpeggios, bass lines/rhythms, chord progressions/rhythms, melodies and drum grooves.

So. My rule since 2016/2017 has been “If you’re stuck in a loop, phrase it”. Before I discovered phrases, I just saved 4 or 8 bar loops as songs, and I was almost never able to continue and finish anything.


i came into renoise via redux, and so i definitely understand your workflow here, its what excited me in the first place, however i’m new to renoise and am having a hard time understanding aliases in patterns. i assume “pattern” is the entire sequence, all of the tracks, but it almost seems as if the “pattern” can be per track via the pattern matrix (apologies if i’m not making sense). the manual says you can alias “blocks” from the pattern but where i’m at in my journey a “block” is more like a 1/4th of your pattern to edit, not the track in a pattern. i’m a bit lost. is it possible to make these edit blocks “aliases” ? apologies, i’m just having a hard time understanding how the aliases are being used/implemented. the phrasing makes perfect sense to me, the aliases, not so much. i’m a RTFM type, but the manual doesnt really explain this feature (for me). any insight would be greatly appreciated!

Instruments can have ‘internal patterns’ called ‘Phrases’, it’s part of the instrument file and properties.
So triggering one note of an instrument can play many obfuscated notes; it’s good.

phrasing makes sense but how are the aliases worked into this exactly?

Suppose it is just semantics; one note represents many notes in the instruments internal phrase(s), providing an alias to additional obfucated composure. The same note can ‘alias’ and trigger multiple phrases associated with the instrument number with the Zxx fx command.

ahhhh perfect! thank you. so the alias is like a higher level to phrases, which is all sub levels to the main sequence. thats deep, lol

I’ll try to explain
Blocks are actually what a track in a pattern is called in the Pattern Matrix.

If you look at the bass track (red) in the screenshot below. You see that patter number 6 has a 4 on it. That is because it is an alias of pattern 4 (the same goes for pattern 10). If I edit anything in pattern 4, 6 or 10, this automatically happens in any aliased blocks.

To alias a pattern you can select it’s block in the Pattern Matrix, and (while pressing Left Option/Alt) drag it to whatever pattern you would like, in the same track. If you want the alias to create a new pattern you do the same while pressing Left Option/Alt + Left Shift.

Pattern Matrix 101:
A track is a vertical column
A pattern is a horisontal line containing 1 or more tracks
A block is one single track in a pattern
The whole matrix is the song

I hope I got that right :wink:

You can only trigger one phrase from the same instrument at a time. If you add multiple effect columns and add different Zxx values in each. It is only the furthest right that will be triggered.

Believe me. I have tried :slight_smile: Being able to trigger more than one, would be unbelievable cool for making polyrhythmic stuff

Have you tried keymapping different phrases? I believe you should be able to trigger multiple phrases simultaneously this way, but have not tested and am afk atm

key map will let you trig multiple phrases at the same time.


yes i think you got it right! i did not realize “blocks” were the blocks in the matrix. i thought it was more of an editing term, so this helps big time. the missing part of the puzzle for me was realizing if you edit the original, it will update the aliases. now the function really makes sense.

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You are absolutely right. When I first started with phrases, I thought making separate phrases for Kick, Snare, Hihat and so on, was a good idea. So that I could quickly try different variations together. However, that got old really quick.
Mostly because the way keymapping works are so tedious. I hate using the mouse for such repetetive work.

  • You can’t drag in multiple phrases at once
  • All phrases fill an octave (or the amount of space available between two others)
  • Double click feature does not make any sense at all, for keymapping

Thank you by the way. Now I have to return to keymaps and waste awfull lot of time making polyrhythms :stuck_out_tongue:

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now the function really makes sense.

Yes. It’s the best feeling in the world. When you thinker with functionality in Renoise, you have not given too much thought. And then it hits you “W00t. This makes perfect sense! What a game changer!”