Renoise, my main composing “tool” – well, it’s my swiss army knife for music ‘n sounds – released their latest and greatest new version. v2.5. So many new features and still a rock solid program to use. Yeah, I’m a control freak, so that’s probably the reason why I’ve been into Trackers that much.
Trackers are different then other music sequencers, they don’t show you visual notes horizontally. No “button”-click style like for example Fruity Loops. No Piano Roll. Instead, it all runs vertical. And you can enter the notes even on the computer keyboard, but of course also with a MIDI Keyboard/controller.
But most important of all. You have the extreme power of being able to tweak ANY parameter, either by automations or commands entered in the tracks.
After playing with ModEdit on the old 286 somewhere in the beginning of the 90-ies, I was hooked to this kind of thing. Back then I couldn’t afford a synthesizer, even dreaming of one was too expensive ;). But as you can see in the screenshot, it wasn’t *that* user-friendly. Hell, Track 1&4 were hard panned left, where Track2&3 were right. Soundblasters were too expensive, so first used the PC-Speaker output, after that the DIY DA-converter on the parallel port, until finally clone cards went down in prices. *Yay*
Fast forward a bit. I finally got a AMD 486DXII 66MHz beast. A Gravis Ultrasound Max card, a SB clone card and FastTracker II. Sure, there were ScreamTracker and Impulse Tracker at the same time, which were at some points more interesting (if I’m not mistaken, they already had some realtime filtering / fx on board). But I always went back to FastTracker. Was it the interface ? Command ? I don’t know really. I just felt more at home in it. But still, these are the DOS ages. Sure, after some fiddling I got it working in Windows 95/98, but still it was lacking some realtime things like filtering ‘n stuff.
And this new thing called VST’s (virtual software synthesizers/effects) came to surface. Back then, this was for Cubase, hardly my kind of program because of the interface and again, lack of MIDI keyboards/synths. Even then, it was sooo expensive.
Windows XP came … oh noooo, DOS had been abandonned (well, finally actually). Running the trusty old tracker became more and more a problem. There was a project called FastTracker 3 that I stumbled upon. But there were a lot of errors and quircks. The idea was alright, to revive the trusty FT2 into the new Windows era, but soon, it just disappeared. Or at least, seemed like that.
This period was the most frustrating part of my sound life. I didn’t want to keep on playing with samples. Sure they are ok for some things, but I wanted to “tweak” sounds. Just like on a (virtual) analogue synthesize, tweak a knob : new sound. I wanted to use those VST thingies. There were a lot of free intruments out there already. But I didn’t like the cubase interface … . And those real hardware synthesizers, well even though I had a job, I still couldn’t afford those.
How I found it, no idea, but when randomly googling around, I bumped into “ReNoise”. Catchy name. And Ooooooo, it had some interface similarities. VST support. *rrrrrrrrrr*. After reading a bit, I went immediatly to the “order” forms. Sure I could have tried the “demo” version. Without the WAV rendering and ASIO support. But I was like : this is my new program, let’s sponsor these dudes so this program stays alive. 7 or 8 years later, it’s surely alive. And ever evolving. Nice userbase, friendly developers (I’m having an issue with a MIDI Keyboard at the moment, but I’m sure it’ll get sorted out). Finally, I have some hardware synths too, and they can be controlled from within Renoise as good as any VST or sample. Nice. I still have a very long synth wishlist though. Lot of those toys are still out of my reach. Yup I’m a synthnut, I like to create sounds. Give me knobs, buttons and switches, and lots of ‘m 😉
Have a look at their software. Maybe it’s not your thing, maybe it is … I know I love it.