Tag Archives: tutorial

VS 27: Randomizing Things

Hello. After a rather long hiatus, I’m back. With a brand new tutorial. This is a technique that combines a few different methods while throwing in some randomization to generate a lot of useable sounds in a quick and efficient manner. Randomness is something I admittedly don’t use enough but it is a great way of generating ideas that you won’t easily achieve by manually configuring everything.

Downloads: Project file, Randomizing Instrument, Effect & Mod Instrument

So, let’s get started. Our beginning sample is something from Blu Mar Ten’s “Jungle Jungle” pack, which is a fantastic freebie that sees a lot of use in my projects.

And first step, timestretching using Akaizer with these settings.

What I’m looking for here is just a long-ish sample with variations in dynamics and timbre. So you can feed pretty much anything into this sort of process and usually get decent results.

Now it’s time to set up our generation scheme. This will take some explaining and it would be best if you check out the Renoise project or Redux instrument to see how things work in detail.

First, the phrase. This is basically a lot of notes with random sample offsets (0Sxx) and reverse commands (B0) which result in our sample being randomly chopped up and reversed. To randomize sample offsets, first I fill the pattern with 0Sxx commands, then select that column and randomize (Alt-F7) and humanize (Ctrl-H). Unfortunately the same thing doesn’t work for reverses for some reason, so I end up manually entering random values.

The phrase length is 512 lines, as long as it can get. A LPB setting of 1 and a single note for every 2 lines ensure that this is a rather slow sequence of repeated notes. You can go slower or faster, depending on the kind of sounds you are after.

So, this is just chopping the sample and reversing it randomly, like I mentioned above. Let’s move on and add more randomness. First, pitch, which is acquired with just a random LFO here. It’s not so fast so that the note changes don’t occur too abruptly, like in the middle of an ongoing sound. I suppose you can achieve the same result with a randomized stepper device in a more elegant way but I just realized that when I was typing this. So, yeah.

Next, filter. For being extra fancy, we’re going with Amplitude Modulation here. When randomly modulated, this gives us 3 basic variations: Obvious AM/RM enharmonic sound, sharp/metallic high frequency content and stuttering sounds. Combined with random offsets and pitch, some will sound pretty cool.

And finally time for a handy trick I’ve recently discovered: Alternating between different envelopes. You can go crazy with this, but a simple and useful option is volume envelopes. To make this work we first need to duplicate our sample. (3 times, for this example.) Then duplicate the random modulation sets we’ve created. (Again 3 times.) And route each sample to a different set.

Next, I create 3 basic volume envelopes (decaying, reversed, rise & fall), one for each mod set. Now, when we go to the keyzones tab, there’s an overlap setting in the bottom right corner. Default mode results in all samples being played simultaneously. If we select “cycle” instead, this causes the sounds being played back one at a time and in a sequential order.

Combined with our phrase and different mod sets, this results in switching between three different volume envelopes continously when we hold a single note. Add in random pitches, AM, sample offsets and reverses and voila! TONS of variation.

Now several of these randomly generated sounds will suck but there will be some good ones. Here are a few that I picked.

We could call it a day here but let’s take things further. And add a second layer of processing. The idea is simple, using modulations (volume, pitch, filters) and effects (reverb, chorus w/e) to make these sounds more interesting. I have a tutorial here that explains this process in detail, so I won’t repeat it again. Just slice the big sample you created, pick the best bits and get dirty.

One thing to note though, pitching these sounds down work really well (even in large amounts), mostly because of the harmonic complexity and high frequencies added by AM. And since it also lowers the speed, some of these will sound rather dark & moody. Give it a try!

Here’s what I got after messing around with effects and modulations:

So there you go. Hope you find this useful and if you have any comments/questions/feedback, let me know in the comments!

Until next time,


(Background image by Frank Fujimoto.)


VS 26: Parallel Modulations

Recently, I’ve figured out a very simple and obvious way to do parallel modulations in Renoise. It works great for basses, it works great for synths and it’s very easy to apply effectively. I’m pretty sure others have been using this sort of workflow since forever but having years of “normal” DAW experience hardwired to my brain, it sometimes takes time to realize I can do some things much more simply and effectively inside the Renoise paradigm.

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VS 25: Akaizer Tool

Hello. Transforming a sound into something totally new is pretty cool. Just like taking a bunch of sounds and transforming them into a new track. But when you have so many options at your disposal it’s easy to get lost and come up with something that’s a little too complex or abstract for a listener to relate. And if you have some OCD tendencies like I do, things get only worse.

So I am a sucker for simple and effective ideas. Something you can apply in a few logical steps and perhaps combine it with another simple trick and get something that works easy and nice. CDP’s Blur process is a great example for this. It yields decent results in a relatively short time with a single step process. When you add some extra spin on it, something fundamental like reversing the sound or filtering, you usually get something pretty dope.

I’ve recently discovered that Akaizer can work in a similar manner. It’s a standalone tool for doing old school Akai style timestretching and it can also run inside Renoise as an extension. (Yay!) It’s pretty good for creating usable sounds out of even very basic samples so I’ve picked it for this post’s main subject.

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VS 24: Programming Breakbeats in Renoise/Redux

Hi. It’s time for a new tutorial. This one is a method of programming and processing breakbeats in Renoise/Redux. This has been on my mind for a long time but I’m actually glad I haven’t done it before as there’s a very cool change that came with Redux (or Renoise 3.1) which makes this whole process really fast, fun & straightforward. I’m talking about the ability to “Render to Phrase” and I’ll get into more detail about this great function below. Make sure you check out the project file if you aren’t sure how any of the following steps work.

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CDP Interface Tool Installation Guide (for Renoise)

CDP is Composer’s Desktop Project, a sound design tool with tons of different programs for manipulating and processing sounds. A while ago, developers have generously decided to make it free and soon after, Afta8 and Djeorek on Renoise forums made a great tool for using it inside Renoise. (Thanks again guys!) I have done many tutorials covering it, but not one for setting it up – until now! (This is for Windows & Mac, see this post on Renoise blog for Linux.)

So let’s get down to it. I’ll try to keep this simple & concise.

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VS 23: Combining Two Approaches

Hello everyone. Today, I’ll try to demonstrate how combining two simple approaches can easily create a more refined or sophisticated output. This is something I’ve noticed over time: Trying too hard inside a certain workflow can be counter-productive after some point and sometimes it’s much easier and effective to mix things up a little. The two elements I’m talking about here are the standard sampler options in Renoise and a couple simple CDP processes. So, let’s get started.

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VS 22: Sound Design Guidelines for Redux/Renoise

Hi. After a while, I’m back with a new tutorial. This post’s concept is really simple: A basic field recording, minimally edited with CDP, chopped up, and processed live inside Redux. But even such a modest setup can yield a lot of cool sounds, just by using fundamental processing techniques. We’ll see how.

Download the Redux patch here.

Download all this week’s samples here.

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