Time runs vertically in a tracker, moving down line-by-line from the top of a pattern/phrase to the bottom, triggering the sequence of notes and commands found in each line. Notes and effects are recorded into the tracker interface in the order that they are to be played back.
There are two separate types of main column: Note and Master FX. Note columns are used to record instruments/samples by entering notes into the note sub-column, while the other sub-columns affect how the note is played. The note sub-column is always visible, while the others can be turned on/off with their corresponding buttons in the Pattern Editor Control Panel or Phrase Editor Options. Master FX columns are used to apply Effect Commands that affect the behaviour of the entire track/phrase.
You can add or delete the two main column types with the buttons at the top left and top right of a track or phrase. There can be up to twelve Note and eight Master FX columns. To reposition a column, click on its name, hold the button down and drag the track to either side. A Note column can be renamed by double-clicking on its name and typing in a new one. The images below illustrate the column layout for Renoise and Redux:
- Note Column
- Note: e.g. C-4, A#3. The first two characters represent the musical note, while the third character is the octave number. The notes are not entered letter by letter like a text editor, but like a piano, using the computer keyboard or a MIDI master keyboard.
- Instrument/Sample Number: The instrument/sample number that will play the note. Optional in the Phrase Editor only.
- Volume: (00-80) - The note velocity/volume, where 00=minimum and 80=maximum. Additional effects can also be triggered from here.
- Panning: (00-80) - The panning of the note, where 00=full left, 40=center and 80=full right. In Renoise, this will only be applied to samples (MIDI and VST plugins will be unaffected by values in this sub-column). Additional effects can also be triggered from here.
- Delay: (00-FF) - A time delay added to the note, where 00 is no delay and FF will result in the note being delayed until immediately before the next line.
- Local FX: Effect Commands entered into this column will only affect the notes being played in this particular Note column.
- Master FX: Effect Commands entered into this column will affect the entire track/phrase.
Lines, Beats and Pattern Resolution
There is a "Lines per Beat" option which changes the number of lines that make up a musical beat. The higher the LPB, the greater the resolution available to you for editing notes, effects and automation. In the Pattern Editor, this is found in the Transport Panel and it affects the entire song. It can be changed during playback with the ZLxx effect command. The Phrase Editor uses the Phrase Properties panel to adjust the LPB for each individual phrase.
By default the LPB is 4, meaning that placing a note on every highlighted line will create a simple 4/4 beat in a pattern that is 16 lines long. How many lines you use for a beat is totally up to you, but it can be important to get it correct if you're interacting with other beat-based instruments or sequencers (e.g. plugins which use beat timings), or when syncing a song/phrase with other applications via ReWire.
When working with time signatures other than 4/4, it's useful to set your number of lines in a pattern to a factor of the time signature's numerator multiplied by the LPB. For example, when working in 3/4 and a LBP of 4, you could use a pattern length of 12, 24 or 48; when working in 5/4 you could use a pattern length of 20 or 40 etc. This will allow you to place your notes on exact pattern lines without having to delay notes with the delay column.