Renoise send-track scripting with MIDI and Lua

A previous article explored using OSC to call Lua code to set the “Receiver” value of a send device.

The basic idea was that a given send device would be associated with some set of send tracks using a naming convention. The OSC handler code would then allow for changing that send device to use one of those associated send tracks.

It works great. But what if you want to use MIDI instead of OSC?


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How We Sleep


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Renoise send-track scripting with Lua and OSC

As previously described, I am a big fan of Renoise, and a big fan of manipulating the send device.

Renoise has three kinds of tracks: sequencer, send, and a single master. A send track is an intermediary between a sequencer track (e.g., a “stem”, the track where you have the notes and other commands ) and the master output.

You can chain devices (e.g. reverb, gate, compression) on a sequencer track to change the sound of that track. You can also “send” that track to a (duh) send track, and the send track can also have a device chain.

One reason to use send tracks is apply a common set of device effects to multiple sequencer tracks. Perhaps you want most tracks to have the same amount and style of reverb. Set up that reverb, then send those tracks there.

Since different send tracks can, with variations in device chains, give the same source track very different output, they make for a handy way to quickly alter the sound of a track during a song by changing the “receiver” (i.e. the destination) of the send device.

In the previous article you saw how to use device automation to have the receiver of a send device change automatically at different parts of a song.

What if you want to control such changes during a live performance?


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New Neurogami track - Age of Reason

Age of Reason by Neurogami on Mixcloud

New track from Neurogami up on Mixcloud.

It’s also on Soundcloud: Age of Reason


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Kicking off the Chinese Forehead wiki

Back in 1979 in New York City I was in a band called Chinese Forehead.

I wrote the songs, sang, and played guitar. We performed at CBGB and TR3 and lasted, I think, less than a year.

No records were every made, but there were some live recordings plus a large amount of loft-studio recording of all kinds of maybe-songs and sonic experiments.

Because the whole point of the Internet is to allow anyone and everyone to lavishly document the most arcane of matters I’ve expanded the Chi4 site to include a wiki.

I have shoe-boxes of cassette tapes and a few open-reel tapes of things done either as a group or as some fraction of the group (cleverly done under the moniker of Not Chinese Forehead). All of it was done around 1979 to 1981.

Over the years I had transfered some tapes to digital, sorting through what we did. Mostly I focused on the live recordings. Some of that has gone up on Soundcloud and archive.org.


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Happy Birthday!

Happy birthday to me.

And you, too: My book, Just the Best Parts: OSC for Artists is pay-what-you-want for today.

Just the Best Parts: OSC for Artists


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Goodwill on Credit - Travels in Ireland

My brother Gerry wrote a book.

Goodwill on Credit – Travels in Ireland

It’s a collection of essays about (surprise!) his travels in Ireland.

Goodwill on Credit

It’s terrific; he’s a good writer. It’s part travelogue, part personal story. It funny, touching, and educational (but don’t let that last part spook you).

This is a collection of 14 stories written over the course of several years covering numerous visits to Ireland. While it contains some (hopefully) useful travel and tourist tips, the collection is mostly concerned with the wonderful things that happen between points A and B on the tourist map, and the people (and the occasional animal) that inhabit those in-between places.

If you’ve ever thought of tracing or Irish roots, or wanted to read a more personal view of the Irish people, you should get it.

You can read one of the essays here.


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Setting up a WiFly RN-XV board with Teensy 3.1

So the WiFly arrived in the mail and the hunt began for a guide on getting it up and running.

The device came from Sparkfun so it was kinda-sorta but not really ready to use.

Pro tip: If you get this from Sparkfun you will probably want to get some 2mm 10pin XBee Socket things and a Breakout Board for XBee Module. The pins on the Sparkfun-packaged WiFly module are meant for XBee; they do not play nice with breadboards.

After getting the WiFly pinned-up I found a few guides. None of them worked. It’s quite possible that some initial flailing put the board into some funky state, but the guides were a problem in other ways.

For one, they all seemed to refer to either a different WiFly module version or an older version of the firmware. For another, the all used a library. What I wanted was something no-frills, bare-bones, this-is-how-it-works example.

To be fair, these guides and their libraries were a big help. Digging through the library code I could (in most cases) see what specific commands was sent to the WiFly. Long-term, a library makes a great deal of sense. My code (below, as a gist file) is a bit hacky a literal. That’s perfectly good because it works and it’s easy to follow. However, you do not want to build anything complex on top of this example. (If anything it will make you appreciate a good WiFly library.)


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ImageMagick image averaging

The video for the Neurogami track Kempten used a collection of Web-cam images that show the town square (AKA Rathausplatz) of the city.

Having collected a year’s worth of such images the plan was to turn them into a proper video.

Ffmpeg is a fantastic free program that can take a series of image files and give you a video.

Very slick. The Kempten Web-cam images made for a nice video, with people and cars sliding though as the sun rose, set, and rose again, over and over. However, the direct approach with all this activity was a bit distracting. What I wanted was to show the change of the town square over time while not emphasizing all the transient details.


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Renoise automation and multiple send tracks

There are at least two ways to apply a set of effects to a collection of tracks.

One is to place the tracks into a group; all filters and effects on the group are applied to the individual tracks.

Another way to use send tracks. As with a track group, any filter or effect applied to a send track is applied to the signal of all tracks routed through it.

These two are similar but not identical. Which one you use (and you can use both in assorted combinations) depends on what you are trying to do. You’ll have to read the docs and play around to get a real sense of how they work.

The option to apply a common set of effects to multiple tracks seems to be about the same for each, but there’s something you can do with send tracks that (as best I know) you cannot do with a track group: automate the selection of send tracks to be used at any given point in the song.

There are times in a piece when, for good effect, you want to keep the same set of notes on one or more tracks but apply a different set of filters and effects.


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