You don’t actually have to put foliage on your desktop to inspire you to conserve energy, unless it, you know, helps. A lovely Ubuntu screenshot by Akira Ohgaki.

A challenge to efficiency brings some terrific results. We’ve got tracks for you to hear, a few quick tips on production with Renoise, a place to go talk about the tracks and how to optimize them for netbooks, and a new extended deadline. And if you’re curious what kinds of music can be made with trackers, now’s a perfect chance to give folks from this community a listen. You may be surprised by the breadth of what you hear.

The forward march of transistors has led to maximalist ideas in music technology. The only problem: musical composition often benefits from efficiency. I remember in the early days of Cakewalk for DOS wondering what I would do with their thousands of promised tracks – and that was before digital audio, soft synths, 64-bit, and the like.

The Creative Commons-licensed Indamixx + Renoise + CDM music competition we introduced last month returns to that idea of efficiency. You use a tool with a different creative approach (Renoise, a modern tracker), then work to conserve computer resources instead of squander them. The music can then successfully run on – and you can win – a lovely, ultra-compact Indamixx Netbook.

And while you’re doing more with less, we’ve decided to give you a little more … time. We didn’t want to exclude anyone from getting in entries, so the deadline has been extended – meaning if you submitted already, you have a chance to revise and polish or respond to feedback (including, importantly, CPU optimization feedback).

New deadline: SUNDAY, OCTOBER 25

New full-blown entry + discussion site (with audio, full XRNS files, and plenty of chatter on improving production quality and optimization):

Need help with testing? Once you’ve got an entry in, Ronald Stewart of Indamixx has offered a free download of their Transmission OS (based on Linux), which you can run on your laptop for testing purposes. Contact him via the inquiry form, and be sure to mention you’re entering the contest!

And folks, so far, some brilliant work. The contest organizers (myself, plus the folks from 64 Studio, Indamixx, and Renoise) have been going through entries and are blown away.


We got some tips from users contributing I wanted to share:

Cmd+C, V, and P will help you a lot!

-subtacted aka Steven Nguyen

Generating Drum Kits in the instrument mode is definitely something some one should look into if they’re slicing beats like an old school tracker (fast-tracker II? It’s before my time, that’s for sure). It’s definitely helped me plug in breaks super fast.

And learn your effect columns! They can help you achieve some of the coolest sounds that I find are really hard to emulate outside of Renoise.

-Dave Smith-Hayes

I’ve used the effects columns to balance out the bass, midrange, and treble parts of the sound, it helps to give me a balanced sound in a quick-and-dirty fashion.

Vocoder is Vocov2, vocals recorded using Ardour.


This contest has been a great learning experience. I wrote a quick summation on John’s site that approximates my account.

what else….hmmm… I guess that, as usual, the mp3 is not as great as the .wav or listening in Renoise. I recommend listening in Renoise.

Renoise is time and again the program that I really go to get my work done. I don’t feel like there are a lot of hip hop makers out here that use Renoise but it really has helped me do good work. If you don’t use Renoise yet, download the demo, open the tutorials and demos and restart your creativity!

-84 Caprice

This track for the competition I used Renoise as a Live improvisation tool with traditional and non traditional instruments. After many layers of improvised live piano, synthesis, and machines, Renoise allowed me to cut up what I wanted and used.

-Silent Strangers

Don’t rely too heavily on vsts, remember tracking all started by sampling. Also, if you enjoy vst instruments a lot but want to optimize for lower cpu usage, don’t forget that you can render your channels and turn that instrument sound into a sample – great for live play efficiency and great for techy edits. ;p


Tips? Hmm… Just do your own thing and don’t give a f*k about what others are doing.. If it sounds right, do it. And always use the flux capacitor mixdown technique.


See, every time I mix that way, I wind up back in 1985.

Also, don’t forget to make use of file optimization with this free, omni-platform utility:
XRNIRipper – Renoise XRNS/XRNI inspector, ripper and OGG compressor for Java

Blog Journals and Process

A couple of people were inspired enough to blog about their efforts:

These days I typically use a piano to work out ideas and then graduate into software to execute them. Renoise tends to be my favorite place to land as it loads up like butter and is quick for nailing down concepts. The implied constraints of this contest, however, had hoisted a series of difficulties in my process. The first being that while I like to use VST/VSTi’s in the process, non-native sound creators or effectors were not to be used in the final version. The second concern was the size of the Renoise file as the winning entry will be used as one of the demos within the program (I haven’t had to deal with file size since I turned my 1.44meg floppies into coasters). Third concern – CPU usage. I was shooting for a great track weighing in under 5 megs. My rough track was loaded with complex VST/VSTi’s and was well over 20 megs.

The process was actually more focusing than I imagined.

84 Caprice Featuring Prof – Karma the Uh Oh Beat [AudioCookbook]

Me being who I am had to enter. Not that I’m in it to win the computer, nor a Renoise license because I’m perfectly happy with my Mac and I already own a Renoise license. So why then? because it’s fun, and I should really start using Renoise now that I bought it.

The result is “Cow in a can”

Cow in a can, my entry in the Renoise-compo. [Johan Larsby]

The Music

In no particular order, I wanted to compile some of the latest tracks I’ve got. Of course, you should absolutely go vote and discuss these tracks on the official competition site.

Renegade Jazz by Custard

Void Pointer – Rampensau (192) by Void Pointer

AcrossWorlds by fengland

Compact Electronic Desktop Music by chunter

Tangeble by dvoraktunes (on

Discover Simple, Private Sharing at

Persecution Theory by phila (on

Discover Simple, Private Sharing at

Save File: persecution-theory_ogg.xrns

UNGHpsycho2009-140bpm by megadrives

Space Shuffle by ASCII Death Star (on

Discover Simple, Private Sharing at

I think this track is Renoise-based, if separate from the competition.
The Love Affair of Man and Machine (Synthesizer Quartet and Solo Piano) by SilentStrangers

Oh yeah, and I do love the title of this track:

You Know CDM by subtracted