What's the point of phrases?

Hello, I’ve used renoise for 9 months. I know how to use phrases and use them in patterns. It comes super handy for beats and recurrent melodies. But my main issue is that it becomes impossible to mix afterward. For instance, how do you sidechain that phrase kick with your bass ? How do you eq that phrase hat separatly from the rest of beat elements ? I’m missing something ? I prefer relying on pattern alias because it’s not constraining that mixing part. Do you use phrases ? What for ? How ?


I have been using renoise over ten years and i am slowly starting to understand how/when phrases come handy.

not the main reason who knows, but atleast for me phrases are way to work in tracker consept inside other DAWs (because Redux is ripped off Renoise-insrument editor) . I do this rarely but sometimes I install Redux in my friends DAW (FLstudio, Logic …) if I need to work with tracker concept. U can be bit pompous and it looks cool to work with tracker view inside other DAW : P’

but yeah , into the point …

That is interesting question, it must be possible somehow with the aid of Sampler Effects panel inside instruments
U can create many FX chains inside sampler and then using those small circular buttons to select which chain belongs to which subsample.
Then using the Output column on the right side of “Sampler Effects”-view U can send/route for example that kick from the phrase to the next Track. So then U have that kick in separate track which U can use to sidechain bassline, on some other track, using Signal Follower.

I start rightaway to experiment this in practice. And try to make example XRNS-file to share. . .
And it would be also nice to hear how other people achieve this, there might be something i do not know.

You can do this also with the Sampler Effects; just create fx-chain affecting/consisting only your hat, and add EQ.

Thanks ! That’s super cool !!! It works exactly like you described it.
I missed the whole point of instrument effects : each chain can be applied to a particular sample. With that knowledge, sky is the limit :slight_smile:
Thanks to you, I’ll work again with phrases, and less with pattern because I find phrases more reusable ! Thanks A LOT.

ah ok, nice, have fun : )

Following up on the initial question, how to control/automate settings inside an FX chain from the edit view? I was hoping I could use one of the meta devices to map them to the controls inside a chain (e.g. an analogue filter on the kick sample which should always be applied no matter which phrase is currently playing) but I can’t seem to find a solution for that.

You can use phrases for instance for polyrythms by triggering them and let them repeat forever. If the phrases have different lenghts and you run multiple in parallel, you get polyrythms quite easily.

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In practice, I use phrases for
a) Simple hi-hat patterns that can be easily tweaked from one place.
b) Chord voiced arps, assigning each voice with Z01/Z02/Z03/Z04 from the main pattern. This way, you can trigger something like a picked guitar pattern with any chord from one single line in the pattern editor.

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I recently returned to Renoise after being generally away from music(and also looking into different ways of thinking about it) to use phrases as a new compositional building block. The goal is simple: keep the main sequence very clean, do most things through phrases. There are a lot of ways to use them! The reason I didn’t before is simply because I wanted to stay hands-on and not take time to configure stuff to make it work with phrases. The automation issue OP ran into contributed to that, but I’ve realized that not using them was increasing my likelihood of leaving tracks unfinished by making it harder to develop material at large scale. It’s a basic philosophical question of “how do I structure my music coherently” that, if unanswered, poses a big barrier to writing a long piece with a lot of parts, and it was exploring this that led me to leave Renoise for a time and see what other ways of doing there might be. I now come back with specific things I’m experimenting with, and phrases are a centerpiece to most of them.

The first thing I tried with phrases was to take a few block chords and turn them into a set of key-triggered phrases that just play the chord once. The reason to do this is because it turns even the most complex progressions into something you can record with one finger, and so improvising a vamp is much, much easier - no squinting at four columns to figure out which one of the notes of your jazz chord you recorded wrong. This is akin to the classic Protracker method of alternating between a major and minor sampled chord with different transpositions, but with an additional degree of freedom. I’m pretty sure this usage is the thing people want piano rolls for the most - it’s easier to diagnose and edit the wrong notes when you can see the pitch vertically. But it’s even easier to just not have wrong notes at all! This technique, by itself, also makes Renoise suitable for detailed scoring - besides making chords easy, it lets you abstract away some of the specifics of how to trigger a certain performance in those 500Gb orchestral sample libraries.

Phrases also really shine as a way to “flip a MIDI” - say you have a MIDI sequence generated from an arranger tool like Chordpulse, Chordbot, MMA, Band in a Box, etc. If you often get stuck with a four-bar loop or lose steam doing arrangements, this is an alternate way of starting the track that ensures it can be finished, because the MIDI you get out of these tools starts in a complete, musically useful state, just in need of some melody and variety. Drag and drop the MIDI file into Renoise and you get a whole bunch of stuff that is probably in need of quantization. Then start cutting it up into phrases, much like you would chop a sample up, just reducing the amount of duplicated note data you’re working with in the main sequence. Then go into each phrase, clean it up, add adjustments, copy-paste to do variations, and you now have a complete music bed to adjust and add the finishing touches to, without being tied to a source sample - you can use any timbres you want, make radical alterations, etc.

Something I am going to look into pretty soon is using them to decouple automations. Do something like trigger a gradual filter sweep through a phrase, rather than coding each row. Automation used in this way can be made more rhythmic in nature, more like setting up percussion - like with the chords, easier to record with. Just a matter of configuring everything to make it possible.


You could also do an arpeggio with the triggered note being the base note of the respective sequence and keep them in the correct scale rather than just shifting the pitch of each note when hitting another key. Sonic Academy’s ANA2 allows something similar but I guess phrases would be easier to program and can be applied to any instrument playing.

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