Vertical vs Horizontal

For the past year (maybe even two) I’ve been thinking about switching over to Ableton live for the arrangement part of creating my tracks, while retaining Renoise for sequencing and rendering drum patterns, for two main reason:
[1] I’m beginning to think that vertical visualization of midi sequencing and waveform displays in a top to bottom fashion is superior when dealing with really really dense multi-layered production.
[2] I suck at creating melodic content and the top to bottom approach combined with a piano roll (wah wah he said piano roll, I know I know) looks a lot easier for me to comprehend.

Pretty much all the music I’ve made in Renoise in the past two years hasn’t really exceeded about 6-8 tracks, and a few send tracks, maybe 2-4. Mostly I’ve been working with maybe commands, phrase randomisation, and random lfo’s that turn off and on specific effects and devices to create evolving sounds and progressions which is fine, I can make some really crazy shit that way particularly percussive stuff, but there have been times where I’ve actually attempted to sit and write a track note by note with little to no randomisation and found that I usually end up getting lost in all the tracks. Scrolling left to right through 20-30 or more tracks on a 15" laptop screen full of midi notes can get pretty intense. I’ve actually got an old spare computer monitor that I’m hooking up to my laptop with a HDMI cable to give me an extra 15 inches of screen space so I’ll have loads of room soon enough but I’m still curious about using a vertical DAW like Ableton and if it really is better for arrangement or not?

I know ultimately that one approach isn’t necessarily “better” than another and that really it’s gonna come down to personal preference at the end of the day, but I’d be interested to hear some other peoples thoughts on this topic.


check bitwig instead

cheaper and more less samey feature set with the addition of having the grid for your sound design and even more crazy randomization

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Is it possible to enter notes with the keyboard in Bitwig?

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of course bro !! …let me know if you decide to try it out !!!

that would be nice indeed

layout is similar to ableton starting from A you get a C and just one octave at a time you jump octves using Z and X down and up respectively and to be able to star playing with notes you need to press caps lock first !!!

but i always use my minilab to enter notes even when im renoise im to used to keys playing by now :sweat_smile:

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I did several times already, but never bought it. As I’m on Linux I feel better with Renoise. But if it’s possible to enter notes with keys without the mouse it’s a plus.

they released a new version called 16 tracks which has some limitations …fundamenal one is that it doesnt include the grid :frowning:
but if you want to get it it costs 100 and then upgrade after if you feel you like the workflow

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I also have Reaper … will check the 16 track version.


I learned Ableton Live last year because I wanted not to be too focused only on Renoise or trackers. Then, I don’t regret, I like Ableton Live… Even if I prefer entering note in a tracker! So I stay into Renoise for that. ^^

BUT the arrangement session in Live (or another classic DAW) is really useful because of the global view of the tracks and automations. Also having an horizontal view with the timeline is quite intuitive. So now I use it often for mixing tracks, mostly tracks with voices part or long tracks. Definetly good for this.


@anon81231982 / @lilith

I would also use Reaper over Ableton and 16-track Bitwig. For one, it’s way more affordable, especially if you’re going for arrangement. Bitwig wins in some ways with its extra modulation capabilities, but you don’t get the Grid in their 16-track version, why bother?

For $60, you get Reaper with some amazing stretching capabilities - several variation types and quality. It also has an easier menu navigation version out there, because I downloaded it and use it but I can’t remember its name. Quick and easy. Renoise and Reaper are a really nice combo. Both are really gentle on the CPU/system as well. If you do a bit of searching, it also has a few nice glitching JS effects, and they’re all free.

If it’s audio arrangement you want, Reaper’s a pretty fine DAW.


You maybe mean that circle menu from SWS package?

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No, didn’t even know about that! This one:


Just simplifies and cleans up all the menu items, makes them (to me) more logical.

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i made this patch yesterday its essentially a matrix of random modulators that you can attach to any syntth to generate presets with a click !!

this is my whole point about Bitwig ““IMO the best daw”” for electronic music and sound design you dont need anything else !! the main idea to create this patch came after messing around with Sugar Bytes factory it has a modulation matrix that introduces variation and you can mutate or get new patches from scratch with 2 or 3 knob twists !!


every instrument has its strengths and weaknesses
a drum kit is not a guitar
ableton is not renoise
vertical is not horizontal

robert henke helped me to think about basics

he also recommends sticking to a system for a while, changing is possible at any time

songwriting is not tied to a sequencer, but the sequencer is bound to a graphical user interface
a note and pen does not make music but the “graphical user interface” is without limits

simple example:
old school songwriting, quickchange in blues A (boring but you can hear, see this scheme in many songs, also current electronic music)

Vertical A D A A D D A A E D A

is not as clear or obvious as a rectangle



for sure bro ! agree 100% with you @krahz

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