Non-DAW Computer Music Environments

I just installed the latest version of Wren via WINE on Linux and libredefender has flagged it as infected (though it didn’t specify with what) - has anyone else had their anti-virus software flag Wren?

1 Like

The website is not the most descriptive on what it can be used for - visually it comes across similar to Max or PD, what do you find to be most useful compared those platforms? (If you’re familiar with them.)

In general, lots of great tools already listed. I can update the original post to add links as they come up.

Sure, why not? I think it will get to be a big list in general, so the more the merrier.

1 Like

Probably p5.Sound would be good to include too then :slight_smile:

1 Like

Reaktor Blocks should be added under modular environments.

python library pyo

1 Like

Used to use this a fair bit years ago. Some really clever and zany tools.


Oh nice, the metering stuff looks really useful and the rest promises fun :star_struck:

throwing a hat in for Cecilia 5 and metasynth

and while i’ve used it less, I think din is noise definitely falls into this boat as well


About 10 years ago, I used Plogue for some MIDI tasks using its built-in Pascal scripting. A few years later I was able to do similar things more effectively in JavaScript (in Max, Node, and web). These days I’d use Norns for those jobs, though.


Nodal may be worth adding to the Sequencers section. It’s a great program.


I don’t want to break the flow here, but I feel like it is worth noting that a few DAWs, or maybe just Bitwig, can really shine in a “non-DAW” workflow.

Bitwig’s internal routing is fully modular: you can tap into audio from anywhere in a project and route it to any other point, you can make mixers at any point in a project, you can nest objects to any level and abstract modulation and parameters to the higher levels, and modulation works in a nearly fully modular way (and can be made fully modular with the DC audio device and Audio Rate modulation device), it features the Grid and Note Grid modular environments, etc. It’s CV and external audio routing features are very flexible and, if you elect to host VCV Rack as a VST in Bitwig, it extends these features to include as many audio interfaces, midi interfaces and CV interfaces as you would like to have.

All this to say that I don’t use Bitwig as a DAW at all, in the traditional sense past hosting instruments and effects. I never record to the timeline, actually. I use the clip launcher interface as my midi sequencer and audio record and playback environment. I have the beat/time grid and quantization functions fully disabled, etc. It works very well as a non-DAW environment.


Seems like Argeïphontes Lyre might be suitable for this thread, also.

8 Likes probably also fits into this?

And maybe Jeskola Buzz and clones/different implementations of the same idea like buzztrax? They are sort of a tracker with a node based/visual audio/plugin interface.
[edit[ I guess somewhat similar to sunvox?


i’ll be lightheartedly contrarian here: if i am sitting at my desk, doing audio work on my computer, whichever software is used, i feel very much like i am in a Digital Audio Workplace. The timeline needs not be represented or manipulable on the screen, it exists by the very nature of our perception (also more prosaically on the notebook scribbles channeling our imagination of a piece in the making).
Don’t mind me and keep the software suggestions coming, though. It is always nice to learn about tools.


Great thread. I use [Kyma] (Powered by Kyma – kyma) a lot!


And by the same token, it should be noted that VCV Rack can behave as a traditional DAW if you’d like. Just drop in a piano roll or two, a clock module, a mixer, put a recorder at the end of the chain. You have all the ingredients you need.


Plenty of room for subjectivity here I guess! One of the reasons that non-daw environments (software or hardware) feel different to me is that I don’t feel rooted in decision-making. I don’t know how things will develop, I tend to let things play out for longer than I ever would in an arrangement and record things that I am unlikely to use in order to just see where things go. It is much easier to do certain things in a non-daw environment, like letting things loop asynchronously without having any awareness of bars/time signatures/duration or periodicity in general. There’s also (at least for the way I work) the somewhat liberating feeling that you’re not making any particular mess that is going to cause problems with your arrangement later. You don’t have 30 tracks of random sounds to keep track of.

When I am working in a DAW I will definitely continue tinkering and working on sound design, but I am consciously building, making choices, arranging, and considering This in the context of That. I can definitely conjure a semblance of that curiosity and experimentation in the timeline, but for me it feels distinctly different to just play with sound as opposed to treating it in the businesslike construction facets of the daw.


Wow, this is great! I’m getting a lot of interesting results just jamming in random recordings

1 Like

i would argue that our linear perception of time is very much not in our nature, but rather culturally constructed. there are many ways to experience and visualise the movement of time (both in your inner eye or with external images) – and that gradually affects your very experience of time. for instance, i started making music with trackers, and i still naturally feel that musical time moves from top to bottom, while people who are more ingrained in sheet music or a daw timeline might feel that it moves from left to right, just like a time bar in a audio file player.

in the aymara language in bolivia, the past is always in front of you, something you are looking at, while you move with your back in to the future not knowing what’s to come.

and for instance in europe time was experienced very much more cyclical before the enlightenment and the idea of progress began to take hold in people’s minds.

to me at least, a daw has a certain workflow in how it arranges tracks over a timeline. changing that very much influences the outcome of the music i’m making. even using ableton’s session view enables another way of experiencing time than a timeline, since it invites you to perform the sounds live in a different manner.

i’ve been thinking for a long time about starting a thread about time and music in general – i will do so soon.


Cool take. I’ll be looking out for your thread.