At work in Renoise. Photo (CC) Federico Reiven [blog].

cclogo If you’re ready to show your skills creating digital music, we want your work.

UPDATED! New contest entry page, new deadline (10/25):
Plus tips, tracks, and more to give you additional inspiration:
More with Less:”Efficient” Renoise Music Tracks and Tips

Renoise, the "bottom-up" music production tool that makes brings modern comforts to the tracker interface, and Indamixx, the turnkey Linux-powered mobile music rig, are working with CDM on a contest to produce a new song. You’ll need Renoise to make your track, but the software now runs natively on Mac, Windows, and Linux, and you can even finish your production on the free demo version if you’d like to give the software a taste before committing to it. (Really – you can even save your file. The demo won’t let you save a wav file, but we’ll judge the xrns, and the only other restrictions are some nags – Renoise is a rare return to the old “shareware” model of development.)

Here on CDM, we’ll also be featuring some tutorials on music production using Renoise, using Linux, and using free and open source software, as well as the commercial offerings. So, this is a chance not only to compete, but to learn some new tools. Rather than just feed off your work, I’m really eager to make this competition a chance for us to work together and share knowledge, to give to you. So I’m pleased to have some of the experts in the Linux audio community and Renoise community helping us do just that.

The competition will also be fully Creative Commons-licensed, to make sure you’re free to use our tips and tutorials, and that the track you make is free for others to remix – without abusing your work. (This is not officially CC-affiliated; we’re just making use of their license.)

Aside from the prizes, I’ll be thrilled to have the chance to promote your best work here on CDM, and the winner will become a demo song available via Renoise and on the Indamixx Linux-powered USB flash drive and pre-configured netbooks. (The USB stick means that if you already have a netbook, you can get a stable, pre-configured Linux rig on your existing machine.)


Above: The grand prize, the Indamixx Netbook. I’ve just gotten one in the mail from Indamixx to try, and I’m already hooked on the thing. Based on the MSI Wind, the rig is pre-configured with Linux software, set up in advance for you, with energy XT, Renoise, and ArdourXchange for converting sessions from software like Pro Tools – plus lots of free and open source software, of course. Win the contest, and you get one of your own – and your track will ship as the Renoise demo on this laptop and on the Renoise site.

How to enter:

Here’s how the competition will work:

1. You’ll make your track in Renoise, saving as an .xrns file. (Don’t want to start from scratch? Renoise imports MIDI files and many tracker formats, so you could, for instance, bang out some beats on your PSP using LittleGPTracker, then finish up in Renoise.) You can use any samples you like, but make sure they’re your own recordings or samples you’ve cleared for this purpose, and that you properly attribute them.

2. Make sure your track will play on a netbook – so go easy. For reference, here’s a file used for benchmarking systems. Figure that your track should have a similar task on your CPU.

CPUBenchmark21.xrns (nothing special musically – for testing only!)

3. Post your music somewhere (audio + xrns) – put it on your blog, use, sign up for CDM’s own in-development blog platform, or whatever you like. If you put the sound somewhere like SoundCloud, of course, you get an instantly-embeddable player.

4. Be sure to apply a Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike license. I’ll be doing the same with CDM’s tutorials and such. This leaves others free to share your work and to remix it, while ensuring they can only do so if they attribute you properly and if their work is just as free to share. (It does not preclude you from selling it later on, either.) See the details of the license, then sign up.

About the license

License your work 

Choose “yes” for commercial uses – because any commercial use must still share alike, which discourages commercial abuse. Select “yes, as long as others share alike” for modifications. Choose “unported” for jurisdiction. And make use of the other fields to attach metadata to your work.You should get a CC-BY-SA license as a result, which allows maximum flexibility for your work while protecting you from people exploiting your work without also sharing the results.

5. Tell us about it! Point CDM, Indamixx, Renoise, and the contest judges to your track by signing up here:

Contest entry form [Google Docs]

6. Judging will evaluate whether tracks are relatively CPU efficient xrns files, but – most importantly – are original, terrific music. There will be categories judged by producer/remix artist/DJ Ron Stewart of Indamixx and Peter Kirn of CDM, and a user’s choice judged by you via public voting.


An Indamixx Netbook MK II SE, to the Indamixx choice

A registered version of Renoise, to the CDM choice

4 Indamixx USB stick versions, to the user choices


October 15

We’ll have updates through the competition.

Stay tuned for more tips and tutorials on Renoise and Linux audio alike, plus a look at the Indamixx Linux-powered netbook rig (I’ve just gotten one for testing – it’s deliciously compact).

Questions? Thoughts? Shout out in comments below.


Renoise running the superb Linux DSP suite of plug-ins, natively on Linux in the pre-configured Indamixx setup.
  • I've been scouring the internet for Renoise tutorials, so I'm really looking forward to this. Peter, it sounds like the MSI Wind is keeping you happy, but are there any pitfalls that we netbook-uninitiated should look out for?

  • Well, while the netbooks are essentially laptop-class performance graphics-wise and audio-wise, they're still not as souped-up as a laptop. You definitely need to think about managing resources a bit in exchange for getting something that's cheap, small, and light. So I hope we can go into a little more detail. Actually, this contest should also be a great chance to get some real-world benchmarks. The problem is, a non-musical benchmark often isn't all that useful. You want to recreate the kind of bottlenecks in disk and CPU resources that you'd have on an actual song.

  • Since it must run on Indamixx, I assume it must use only native or Linux DSP plugins?

  • @chunter – That's correct; for this contest, part of the challenge is to stick with what you get in Renoise. But you are free to use your own samples (hint, hint). And of course, bouncing out effects is a way to keep CPU usage light.

  • ChucK and SuperCollider are a great idea. I'll investigate. There's an Ubuntu repository for SuperCollider that integrates nicely with gedit (GNOME's default editor, which has actually matured into something really terrific). I'll see if I can get that going on Transmission (the Studio64-based custom distro for Indamixx). In fact, I imagine Renoise + SC could be an interesting combination. You could use JACK to add effects to Renoise, or simply sequence SC with Renoise.

  • Hey folks, my name is Justin DeLay, I am a huge CDM fan and the co-founder of a new music sharing startup called we would love to host your compositions over at

    For free you will get a super easy way to upload and share your track, with a short link that you can easily share on Twitter, Facebook etc.

    On you can track your stats and receive comments, which are automatically tweeted as well.

    We have an embeddable player and we have a mobile version of our site that works on all smartphones.

    Finally, you can tag your tracks on our site, and we generate playlists based on these tags.

    So for instance, if everyone tagged their track "CDM," a playlist of all the tracks that are part of the contest could be found at

    Peter, we have already hosted a remix competition for The Streets and have a contest with Loopmasters in the works. I think it would be great to have all of the track submissions in one place, so if you are interested in putting something together email me at

    Excited to hear everyone's submissions!

  • Piggytracker projects cannot be loaded into renoise, although you can render to wave and import. Im not sure if that will give you problems on the demo version though.

  • Renoise can load OGG and FLAC as samples for making instruments as well.

  • beatniks3

    nice! i've been using renoise on a variety of linux ditros; puredyne, xandros, fedora, ubuntu studio, linux mint, puppy mint and others, congrats to renoise on making it so easy to install.

    I think the #2 rule about a netbook being able to play the track should make things interesting. I don't know if there is a demo song that comes with renoise that will play on a netbook the whole way through.

    i'll prob end up doing a submission for this.

  • Canenero

    go Renoise go!!!

    Best tracker ever!


  • Oh, I think I'm confused about which trackers export which formats.

    Renoise can import:





    for trackers, and of course, SMF .mid.

    I thought LittlePiggy supported export to at least one of those. I may be confusing my trackers, though; I know there are various trackers that can export that way.

    Renoise itself is really nice, so the other way to go would be to bring in samples from another environment and use Renoise for the tracking.

  • Renoise pro tip: Clever use of the "render selection to sample" tool is going to be the most important factor in this comp 🙂

    Most of my tunes are made with loads of vsts, so i've got to do some work to get them sample-based and running economically…

  • Another tip: you can get the filesize of your song down by up to a factor 10 if you use lossy compressed samples instead of the default 32-bit stereo FLAC file format. I reckon a small filesize wins you bonus points in a tweaker's compo.

    Since Renoise songs are basically ZIP files containing song data and samples, it's almost trivial to run the extracted contents of the song through OggDrop or a similar application and zip it up again.

    It can be easier: I have written a Java tool that takes the work out of your hands and compresses your Renoise XRNS song automatically:


  • Oh, incidentally, getting Windows VSTs running on Linux is NOT a problem – I’ll cover that and LinuxDSP in a tutorial – it’s more that we want this to work as a demo song in xrns format.

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  • derHa

    i’d love to see that usb stick indamixx without renoise (i have a licence already since i read about it here@cdm last year). but instead with chuck and supercollider installed. would be perfect for me!

    i’m not that fluently with renoise yet, but i try to give it a shot for this contest. seems to be the perfect opportunity to learn!

  • derHa

    btw.: renoise is one of the most ecological programs i know (in terms of cpu power). i bought it exclusively for jamming on my eeepc. the user interface could be more adapted to the small netbook screens though.

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  • josh g.

    Downloaded Renoise Demo, installed, ran – crashed? Weird, it worked for me when I tried it a year or so ago.

  • @Josh G.: Usual advice applies – have you tried disabling plug-ins before testing?

  • Steven Nguyen

    Just to clear things up, I'm running Renoise on a Mac.

    Native and imported samples are allowed.

    Default effects and such.

    No other AUs or VSTs (Such as Reaktor, quadraSID).

    Am I right?

  • Steven: correct, exactly. (quadraSID – yum.) Of course, the idea is, you can always render out effects you want.

  • Simon Lacelle

    Could anybody point me to a good Linux Distro for making music with, say, Ardour? The Pro Tools import seems really cool, as I'm forced to used at school and don't want to shell out dough for a crappy sounding M-Box just for editing when I have a MOTU 828mk2.

  • @Simon: Well, Indamixx would be a good place to start. 🙂 ArdourXchange isn't free, so Indamixx's distro turns out to be a nice, affordable way to get it plus some other bonuses and full support. Now, actually, ArdourXchange really needs a separate review, and I'm the wrong person to do it, because I don't have the sessions to test it with or the time. But I'm up for volunteers. Now, the cool thing about Indamixx is having all of this set up for you and getting support and getting some commercial stuff bundled in, but just to be technically precise, *any* Linux distro can run Ardour with varying degrees of effort.

    Indamixx is based on / built in collaboration with 64 Studio:

    They have a free version you can try out, which for some people is the one they stick with.

  • Wilbo

    So am I correct in assuming based on what was said earlier that LADSPA plugins are a no-no? I'll probably stick to native but was just curious.

  • @Wilbo: hmmm, interesting, actually. If you have a free LADSPA plug-in that you want to use, well, for starters, I'd be curious to hear about which it is. 🙂 I'll have to defer to Ronald and the Renoise folks on this one.

  • Steven Nguyen

    This may be a bit out of topic, but…

    What is that piece of equipment on the left on the first picture?

  • @Steven: definitely off-topic, but *cool*, so I'll accept it. 😉

    It appears to be this:

    Actually really terrific-looking (now defunct) E-MU controller box.

  • This came up in a private comment – yes, Transmission OS is in fact built on 64 Studio, which is a custom-rolled distro built on Debian (and now actually specifically Ubuntu) with full repository compatibility. That's a good thing. It means you can invest in something with full support (on top of existing, superb community support) that's pre-configured to save you a lot of time. Once you have it, you still have all the advantages of open source software – so, say, installing SuperCollider or Processing with free video libraries can work exceptionally well. And even if you prefer to roll your own solution instead, the work done on this is something feeding back into the larger community. (In fact, I've seen people opting to use the repository for 64 Studio's kernel.) For a free-as-in-beer solution, you're going to have to do more work yourself. But either way, this is absolutely compatible with (and encouraged by) GPL and the free software movement.

    Now, Renoise is a commercial application. But I think the proof is not in the theory but the practice, and in this case Renoise has done an exceptional job of supporting Linux standards (like JACK, or even installing the GNOME menu item in the right place), and being responsive to its community. You want commercial applications to be good citizens of the ecosystem, and Renoise qualifies with flying colors.

    We can go into this in some more detail in coming weeks – I certainly will as I test and review the Indamixx netbook. I expect it's mostly of interest to those of you with some experience with Linux. But I can also try to break down how this whole system works, even for beginners. I think it's of growing importance as users of Mac and Windows are now using more and more open source software, and people are using Linux for pragmatic, practical reasons while being unaware of how these things function and what they mean. They're not the easiest things to grasp, but I think there are issues with material, practical import for musicians.

    More on 64 Studio:

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  • Wilbo


    Well the two LADSPA plugins that immediately jump to mind are delayorama and TAP Rotary Speaker. I guess a better question would be is there a list of LADSPA plugins or plugin sets that are pre-loaded with Indamixx. I thought there were but I couldn't find the info on the site, I might have just been lazy and not looked hard enough.

  • Sounds like a good opportunity to finally learn Renoise!

  • Gideon Bridgman

    All right a Renoise competition. I can't wait to get cracking on this!

  • s ford

    I've got back into meddling with beats and stuff, and I would love to see some more stuff about Renoise! In particular some tutorials and stuff, as crikey if you haven't used a tracker is it confusing to use!

    I'm sure if Venetian Snares finds out about this competition, he will win with little competition i'm afraid!

  • beatniks3

    recommended linux audio distros: Planet CCRMA, pure:dyne, AVlinux2, 64 studio.

    I'm personally using planet CCRMA right now on one of my laptops and pure:dyne on my eeePc.

    there has been talk of it on the renoise forum, but i think the linux version of renoise should be considered freeware, you get full JACK outputs, and I don't believe there is a nag screen for the linux version. You can't render to wav or sample but there are ways to do get around that with JACK.

  • @beatniks3: That's correct, Renoise on Linux is more liberal about its shareware policy. It's not freeware, however – if you use it, you should support its development (and get support) as it's very reasonably priced. I got started on PCs in the heyday of shareware, and I think it's terrific they're bringing some of that approach back. And if I bought just one piece of commercial software on Linux, Renoise would probably have to be it.

    It's worth noting that many of the things we're mentioning – 64 Studio and Transmission, Planet CCRMA, and pure:dyne – are really not separate distros so much as pre-configured audiovisual "rigs" built atop distros. I say that because it's advantageous that these are Debian/Ubuntu or (in the case of CCRMA) Fedora. It means greater flexibility, greater compatibility, easier software installation, and the ability to read documentation for those distros.

    It also means for people who prefer to have a go at their own setup, in the case of CCRMA, for instance, you can simply add the repository to your default Fedora install and go at it.

    I also think Ubuntu deserves special mention, as – with the right setup – it also can be a good OS and there's some nice work going on with maintaining repo's over there, too, which should now benefit Transmission, too.

    Now the wrinkle to all of this is that getting real-time kernels and version updates and such in sync can be a major pain. I tried a recent Fedora that decided not to install at all thanks to an unfinished partitioner, and saw some major kernel wackiness with Ubuntu that finally prompted me to compile my own. So it's tough to overstate how useful these audiovisual distros can be.

    Transmission is unique in that it is also a pre-configured hardware bundle, and bundles in proprietary/commercial software that's otherwise unavailable, plus paid support. I think it's actually a pretty great deal, as such, because the proprietary software is well-chosen. I think it *is* worth using as much free software as you can on Linux, but energyXT, Renoise, (for me, Reaper under WINE), and ArdourXchange are all pretty good exceptions that can make the rest of your free tools more valuable.

  • beatniks3

    hey peter, i looked it over and i guess on the renoise forums there were rumblings of releasing a freeware netbook version. I was stating my opinion that i think the linux version should be freeware, but you're right you're paying for the support and for the cross-platform compatibility and it is a great deal.

    I'm looking forward to trying transmission, i like the idea of a custom OS usb stick all setup and ready to rock, it reminds me of the first final scratches with the BeOs partition.

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  • MSI WIND u100! Triple Boot with OS X, Win Xp, and Linux! yes…i got one…and i'll gladly enter this competition to try and win another!

  • @steven: right, it is an Emu Launchpad, and i've been using since for about 4 or more years. it's very solid, very portable and a nice "partner" for live acting.

    @peter kirn: thanks for using my photo and set the respective CC license. i'm very glad to contribute to the CC community and i'll be participating for sure!

  • on this.

  • gwenhwyfaer

    corticyte: Isn't "render selection" one of the facilities that's disabled in the Renoise demo?

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  • beatniks3

    gwenhwyfaer: Correct, render selection is disabled. you could use jack to connect to another program to render the sample and then bring it back into renoise.

  • Great Feedback and interest everyone! Let's have some tracker fun. Don't forget to bump over to to vote for which Indamixx model you want to see next.

    Thank you

    Ronald Stewart

  • Are tunes being judged for renoise technical skill at all?

  • @Wake: Since the winning songs will be used for demonstration purposes, I assume the content has to be of educational value. In other words, I don't expect an MP3 wrapped in a Renoise song to win. It would be pretty efficient, but not very interesting.

  • HS

    Demo songs must all use nothing but renoise…i.e. internal fx only are the requirement…no VST's, no VSTi's…just samples inside of renoise and it's internal FX.

  • Phila

    I uploaded my song using, as suggested in the post… How can I apply the CC licence from there? I have no website/blog! Thanks! 🙂

  • Jazzed about this competition but i'm curious about any issues surrounding break beats. Thoughts?

  • Cornelius,

    "Bring that beat back"!

    Break Beats = YES!

  • @Ronald Stewart

    I think Cornelius is referring to any issues that may arise from trying to CC license breakbeats (eg. amen, apache; in fact, all samples that appear to be public domain, even if they in reality might be copyrighted).

    In short I think the CC license applies to the song as a composition, the samples within however are not affected. Nothing has stopped bigwig-producers from copyrighting their songs that make extensive use of the aforementioned breakbeats, so I doubt it would be a problem with the practically copyleft CC license.

    It would be prudent to have this matter cleared though.

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  • Dave Smith-Hayes

    I entered and I'm more than excited to see how I do!

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  • My entry here:

    Please let me know if there are any issues.

  • Human Plague

    Compo page has moved:

    See above post. Sincerely, captain obvious.

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  • alvaro

    i was tried lubuntu+renoise+all plugins…

    but i need to know much more renoise, its new for me

  • justin

    when is going to be up again? I need that site

  • justin

    when is going to be up again? I need that site