Workflow: Blocks, Instances and Tags

I’ve been thinking about workflow tools that could make building music in the pattern editor more comfortable (and quick). My process, lately, has been to work with large patterns, because I don’t find myself re-using large sections of song. Instead, I tend to re-use small sectionsof song. Phrases are one way to re-use small clips of pattern, but they’re ultimately tied to individual instruments (which has its own benefits). I’d like a way to work with small chunks of re-usable information directly in the pattern editor. So, I’m proposing the Block.

Blocks would be made from selections of any column elements or combination of column elements in the pattern editor (note, volume, pan, etc). They’d be marked by a dotted rectangle. This is basically it.

Why do I think this could be such a great idea? First, it would be a light and simple visualization of a ‘section’ of song data. Because the vertical hex format in Renoise conveys so little about the sound, it can be very difficult to read where a musical idea starts/ends. I think a little visual organization could go a long way. Equally important, interaction with blocks would be simple and immediate: any time the mouse hovers over the dotted line, the cursor would turn into a “hand grab” icon, as shown below with the block in track 1.

So, that’s the block. An extension of the block is Instancing. In graphics programs, instances are copies of an object that continue to reflect changes made to the original object, but whose general position/orientation are independent from the original. So, block instances, visually marked in some way (a dark muted red in my example), are easily-made chunks of re-usable pattern data. Instances may or may not be editable? I’m leaning toward not. You have to edit the original in order to see changes in the instanced copies. Any time you want a block instance to be made independently editable, you can convert it into basic notes or into a unique block through the block sub-menu. The block sub-menu would also allow you to set a block’s color, jump to where an instance’s source is located, etc. Possibly increments\decrements of pitch could be applied to block instances?

To those of you who think I’m describing phrases, consider that 1) blocks could contain phrases 2)blocks could contain samples from multiple instruments 3) blocks could be made from any data columns (or combination), not just notes, and finally 4) blocks would require no editing or managing outside of the pattern editor.

The other, much smaller, tool I’m proposing is a simple line marker with an optional comment. I put one here on line 32 and 64. I think this is self-explanatory.

I feel like this deserves a bump. It seems like a very non-trivial thing to implement that would help with organization + workflow so much. Curious what more people think about it.

Short description of BLOCKS: A group of notes marked by light dotted outline (purpose: helps visual organization + quick/easy manipulation of entire group).

Short description of INSTANCES: A copy of any block that responds to changes made to the origin block (purpose: quick/easy broad stroke song shaping).

It’s basically a natural and flexible patterning system within patterns.