Seeing a tracker interface for the first time can be intimidating. But dive in a bit deeper, and you’ll discover what’s actually a very efficient interface for programming in musical sequences and working with samples. With just ten days left in the Renoise – Indamixx music production contest, there’s still time to get up and running using even the demo version of Renoise (into which you can import samples). And this could be a great excuse to learn a new tool.

Dac, who’s a big part of support and community for Renoise, has put together a nice tutorial showing off the workflow in the tool. It’s nothing all that unusual: bring in samples, assemble patterns, make music. Some of the voice over is hard to hear, but this is a good start. Now, I still like reading and writing better than video just in terms of how I learn, so I may try to work on a written version for the end of the week; feel free to shout encouragement.

For more Renoise inspiration, forum regular djnick sends along a PsyTrance video made in Renoise – so, yes, you can make PsyTrance with a tracker, too, if you like. He samples Peter Jennings talking about ecstasy. Yeah, whatever – as if you can make Peter Jennings any more trippy. Watching Jennings is the ultimate natural high.

And here’s the original jerk beat tutorial. (Hey, who are you calling a jerk beat? Sorry, that just can’t sound not strange when I hear that phrase…)

Enjoy. Got specific requests for how-to’s, other tips or tutorials you’ve found useful, or questions you’d like answered? Do let us know.

  • "you can make PsyTrance with a tracker, too"

    you can make any kind of music with a tracker (if you're good enough)

  • @corticyte: Yes, indeed. Actually, you can make any kind of music even if you're *not* good enough. 😉

  • I, like many, started doing music with trackers. First with Octamed, in an Commodore Amiga 500 computer, back in 95. Then I got a PC and started using Fasttracker II, used it for a cuple years, before I switched to Cakewalk. I still remember with love those times, editing samples in SoundForge, switching to DOS and arranging them in FTII…crafty!!!

  • pierlo

    nice one, but it would be even nicer another tutorial on more obscure/advanced functionalities…

  • @cooptrol: ah FastTrackerII, that's where I started (well, after having done basic and assembly language stuff with the SID registers on a Commodore 64 😉 ) crafty was the word indeed 🙂 but very handy for drum tracking

  • Human Plague

    @pierlo: A lot of users out there have made a lot of DIY tutorials. They are one keyword search away.

    I'm particularly fond of SDEK Renoise Blog, for example.


  • Yeah, I think Dac was actually trying to make one for complete beginners!

  • Danoise

    I agree, this video is all about basic tracker workflow. I think it's great how Dac mention that a track can contain any sample/instrument. Apart from the vertical layout, this is probably what differentiates a tracker like Renoise from traditional DAWs more than anything else.

  • i wish there was a tracker interface to all modern MIDI DAWs, you know. Logic has this crappy event list instead.. I know it's a tough challenge, but I'm sure with some ingenuity it could be done… to this day there's still something special about the tracker that sequencers can't quite match. (disclaimer: obviously i'm an old ST3/IT2 junkie 🙂

  • dyscode

    I am with George (and most others)

    Started elektronik Music with a tracker.

    I worked with about any Tracker in Existence in the old Amiga Days. Was a bit too young to do that with C64 too.

    This obsession of "collecting Trackers" is still with me today, since the A500. For me it´s the same sacred think as Woodstock is for the 68 Hippies.

    I also still have my Amiga 😀

  • orubasarot

    George, try reVisit for a tracker interface that works in a bunch of DAWs.

  • reVisit's cool, but Renoise now also supports ReWire *and* JACK on Linux. And generally, I think the point here is that trackers continue to evolve – they haven't stood still while DAWs took over.

  • I've always liked the idea of using something like Renoise as a sort-of supercharged sampler for my stuff, but it seems to be built for something different than that. I also started out as a tracker, but unlike others, didn't really stick with it. I understand the basic idea, though.

  • Jimmy Jams

    Next question…what's this about new Macbooks etc with "significant audio improvements"?

  • rohka

    I really still can't understand why anyone would want to use something like a piano roll to make music. The tracker interface has always felt more intuitive to me. But, as always, to each his own.

  • @rohka Yes, that's what I mean! Trackers used to be easy to learn and horizontal sequencers were much harder to dig through.

    But now it's like the world is upside-down. Trackers are said to have a steep learning curve, compared to for example Cubase. We'll conveniently forget the "Fast Guide to Cubase SX" has 469 pages.

  • shamburglar

    I've been using Renoise for quite some time now… but I watched this video and it demystified one very important part of Renoise that I have been having trouble figuring out through the docs… The pattern arranger window… can't believe its that easy to use. I've been working on one pattern at a time and have had very little idea how to select and work with different patterns, I'd been just changing the pattern number of the current one until I watched this. Now I see you can actually edit one pattern while another is playing, awesome! Thanks DAC.

    Now if somebody could point us all in a direction that makes HEX easier to understand it would be appreciated. I keep a chart next to me at all times b/c I just can't seem to wrap my brain around a non base 10 system. I always kind of wished Renoise would integrate a dumbed down number system that maybe has less resolution than HEX but is workable. This has been a problem for me back in the Fast Tracker 2 days, just had to fumble my way through it.

  • beatniks3

    shamburglar, check out this renoise beginners thread:… it talks about HEX including why its used.

  • mallyone

    Is it just me, or are the renoise web servers under a bit of strain? I've been checking back and first the blog went, now I can't get to the main site. I want to have a flashback to my shitty appartment of yesteryear where I first came in contact with an 8-bit tracker.



  • shamburglar

    @beatniks3, thank you… there are a couple posts there that represent all i need to know right now.

  • Simon Lacelle

    @Bantai I think the reason for that is that the now "mainstream" MIDI sequencers are quite visual while trackers are just a grid of numbers. This might work for some people, but many others, including me, are more at ease in a spatial environment. (I spent my entire childhood with Legos)

  • wi_ngo

    I've never done the tracker thing, but have always been curious. This still seems a little confusing to me. I mean, I get the concept, but the workflow throws me off a little.

    Probably because I've been doing the horizontal (or spacial, as Simon so eloquently put it) sequencing thing since the days of Opcode Vision… I guess I'm just set in my ways at this point.

  • Human Plague

    Ears aren't visual?