Thursday, 27 October 2011

Typewriting Music

This is an attempt to explain what I find so fascinating about music trackers.

Trackers are widely known to make music look as exiting as an excel spreadsheet. Behind the mask they offer a unique workflow and creation process to digital audio creation. But this process is hard to describe to someone who never gathered any experience with trackers.

The tracker workflow is kinda between two different approaches. Most people know the direct approach: you hit record and play your instrument. You do this by leveraging your muscle memory, trained by practice. The advantage is the possibility of spontaneous improvisation and expression. A disadvantage is the danger of repetition because you always start playing what you have learned.
The other extreme is composing on a paper, or using your mouse on a piano roll or score editor. The advantage is that you think about what you create or want to create.
Trackers are in between because most of them can be controlled completely by computer keyboards. This way you can use muscle memory to move through your project and create events like notes. Most users don't do this in realtime, but more like a composer as described in the second example. This enables for a reflected workflow without thinking too much about the individual steps to get where you want to go. Tracker users describe this as being "in the flow".

I always dream of a DAW with the usual interface stuff we have today AND a tracker style interface... fortunately though there is rewire or AIC bus to connect trackers like Renoise to other DAW software :)

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