What is Music Tracker

A modern tracker, such as Re-Noise is truly a DAW. But the early trackers are too far from a DAW. I used different trackers since 1992-1993. In the core a tracker is simply a software sampler. Nothing more. MIDI came later. First trackers I have used are Scream Tracker 2 and little bit of MOD Edit but Scream Tracker was superior because was more convenient to use (and by the way was written and used by the famous demo group Future Crew, but this is another topic). Both of these worked on DOS (operating system long before Windows), but DOS trackers are said they copy the trackers which existed on Amiga computers (since what I’ve read, Amiga had 4 real digital hardware channels, while in the beginning I did not had a sound card! :). Early trackers featured 4 audio channels which were split 2 on the left and 2 on the right usually, loading of small sound files (called samples) in different file formats (WAV files didn’t existed yet) such as VOC and others and were pretty short. The true beauty of sampling was (because of the limitations) to find real short sample, which you could loop perfectly (well almost) so there are at least no clicks when the sample loops. Once samples are loaded (early trackers supported loading of limited number of samples and were 8 bit 22 kHz files) then you use the sequencer screen to sequence them. To simulate notes, each sample was triggered at different frequency. Since first trackers operated in the so called “text mode”, where no graphics could be shown on screen (which was possible on the later versions), notes were not represented as dots on lines. Instead a letter notation was used, being C, D, E, F, G, A, B and “#” used respectively (no bemol thou). Early trackers worked on very old and weak hardware, even supported playing trough the internal PC speaker only! This is how I began – playing the music on 8-12mHz on the PC speaker (don’t ask how it sounds, but it does!). When you sequence, first you create a “pattern” – sheet of programmed music, consisting of 4 channels, each of 64 notes max on the early trackers. Each note were also allowed to have an octave specified with a number, a volume 0-64 and an effect, with effects being things like retrig, tremolo, vibrato and others (depending on which tracker you use). Once you sequence few patterns, you can arrange them in some order, thus making a song. Different trackers saves the songs in different (their own) file format with .MOD, .STM, .S3M, .XM being the most popular ever.
List of Track

  • “Basil” 5:45
  • “River Towns” 6:17
  • “Skydiver” 4:38
  • “Mighty Man” 5:55
  • “Broken Bones” 5:30
  • “Long Cool Girl” 5:06
  • “Lights of Taormina” 6:09
  • “Silver Eagle” 5:02
  • “Beryl”

 

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