Where To Start From Zero?

I would like to know what it is a good starting point for learning how to compose music with trackers.
I know there are many video and tutorials out there (and here too!) but I notice they are all meant to be introduction to Renoise.

I must specify I have already tweaked in the past with trackers but never really completed a track.

I’d be glad to have advice on good sources (even books, if necessary), from which I could learn about music theory, sample synthesis, and finally advanced techniques for composing in trackers.

I notice there is too much focus on teaching how to use that software, how to produce that effect, but I wasn’t able to see concrete advice that could let a “total stranger” to enter the would of composing music, from the very basics.


to be fair you odon’t need to learn anything to start composing - of course you can learn music theory and the principles of sound design but it’s kind of irrelevant - there are no real rules in composition. the best way to learn is debatable but you cant really go wrong with cover versions, like learning to play guitar and compose yr own song, find a song you like and try to recreate it in software - lay down the drums, the bass and other instruments and repeat until you get good.

failing that you can just put the music you hear in your head into renoise.

the old practice makes perfect line is pretty apt here too.

I agree.

I learned composing by trial and error. Made some tracks, sounded horrible, looked at other songs, ah - that’s how you do it, took bits and pieces from here and there, tried again, sounded better, listened to more songs, learned tricks, made another song, sounded decent… and so on.

And no matter how much you learn you can always learn more and get better. But it would be interesting if there actually was a book about it.

Thanks for your replies first of all; they were all useful.
The suggestion on the books were also very appreciated!

I don’t know if I completely agree on the “start-from-total-ignorance-approach by trial and error”.
OK, I have to say that I was exactly thinking on choosing a (simple) song I like, and try to remake it myself. This is an approach that indeed works in almost everything…but wait a minute! do I really have to (re)discover what BPM are, what music-scales are? how to make chords?

Well, it is possible, but doesn’t it sound a bit like ‘reinventing the wheel’? (That’s why I also asked for books).

I agree that theory and techniques do not bring necessarily ready-to-use tools for composing, which instead involves creativity; but I feel that most of you, when started to compose, were perhaps unaware of using some basic knowledge which you now take for granted.

This method works best if you really can translate your emotions to music.
To seek certain emotions to translate you can do a few other things to get inspired, like reading stories or looking to movies.
People being in deep emotion are more persistent and have a clearer idea how to achieve certain things. It makes trail and error period shorter and the result greater.
It even works better if you loose your work when you are almost finished and have to start all over (you get disappointed and pissed at the same time but are also more focused and persistent when restarting from scratch).
The latter is not that fun to experience but the results of the new attempt are usually way better than what you started.

I think the best thing to do is to spend a few hours trying to put some beats together. Thats the only way u are going to get used to composing and in the end making a good track. u cant just sit there and expect to assimulate all renoise information in ur sleep. its just getting in there and doing it. :D

The only books I found useful to learn was stuff on compression, Equalizing, gates, ect.
But even after reading these books I thought the best approach was to just mess around with things and get to know what each thing does. Nothing like practicality

This tools good for playing around with chords


Thanks again.
Your replies were quite motivating (and thnks cytone for the link!)
You convinced me that perhaps the best way is to start to practice.

Just two more questions:

  1. I’d prefer to to create my own samples (via software) rather than using other people ones. What software do you guys use to create your own samples?

  2. could you point out some artist names from whose song one could learn a lot about tracking?
    I recently downloaded some marvellous tracks, and I thought “wow!! I really want to see how he did that”, then I opened the .xrns file and I was quite disappointed since all the interesting “effects” seemed to be baked into the sample itself.

CHORD PROGRESSIONS :drummer: :drummer: :drummer: :drummer:

Renoise, VST instruments and VST effects:


This should keep you occupied for the next gazillion years or so :huh:

as long as it sounds good

As someone that can relate on the level of tracker noob-osity I have to agree with the fact that its fairly difficult to ‘break the ice’ so to speak. I’ve never used trackers or even delved deeply into production techniques up until recently. I’ve spent about 3 weeks with Renoise so far (with no previous tracker experience) and I can personally say that, 2-3 weeks of persistent ‘trial and error’, information witch hunts, and forum trolling has helped me get over that learning curve hump. I’m certainly no expert at this point but I hope to be sharing my first track with you all very soon.

As i’ve spent the majority of my life involved with music and playing many instruments and I rather enjoy that a lot of Renoise is very intuitive but yet still not ‘by the book’. You’ve just got to wrap your brain around it!

A good place to start though is drum programming. Just load up a kit, or make one, and have at it. Learn all the shortcuts, key commands, etc. and play around with DSP’s. Try to find the best ways to copy, paste, modify, turn things on and off, and shuffling around patterns and effects. Try sending instruments to various channels to combine effects. (It doesn’t have to sound pretty). If synths are more up your alley, try controlling and automating your favorite VST’s with Renoise. Whatever makes it more relevant or ‘on your level’. Try to overcome what gets between you and squeezing that tune from out of your imagination.

However if theory is holding you back I can see that the learning curve is much more serious. But, if you’ve used other DAW’s like FL Studio, Logic, Cubase… Renoise is truly a breath of fresh air. I seriously don’t think i’ll ever use anything else for drum programming (at the very least) ever again.

For theory, I highly recommend this book… http://www.amazon.com/Music-Theory-Compute…k/dp/1598635034 The book includes questions and reads somewhat like a higher edu. level coursebook. The author Hewitt, is from the UK and I though that a few of the end chapter questions didn’t ‘translate’ well. But overall super. I read quite a lot of books so PM me if you want more suggestions.

Mostly in Cool Edit Pro.