I migrated from Composer 669 & ST3 to IT to Buzz to Renoise to SunVox to Schism and finally back to IT. WTF? Story time:
I started in the early '90s with Adlib Visual Composer
, but never made anything noteworthy (heh) with them. The piano roll & musical staff interfaces didn't stick and I soon migrated to Composer 669 and ST3 in one or the other order. Eventually Impulse Tracker came along and I used that alongside ST3 for a while. (I only have one of my 669 modules anymore! It ... isn't brilliant. Or even finished. But I probably made about 5-6 in that program!)
Then there was a hiatus of ten years (to the day!) from 2001 to 2011 during which I didn't *finish* any tracks, but started quite a few in IT, Buzz, and Psycle. By 2011~2012 I was writing on Buzz almost exclusively (its IT-like controls helped), especially after the New Buzz versions came along. Everything from my "hiatus over!" debut of Proterozoic
to Eddie at the Mental Institution
was done in Buzz, controlling external synths via Polac's MIDI out.
I *love* Buzz and would still be using it to this day if it were multi-platform. But I became increasingly annoyed with having to keep a windows install around and went Linux-only on all my PCs by mid 2012. Wine can't run Buzz, but I'd started using Renoise and Schism by then. Renoise I got fairly good with but for some reason never completed a track. Schism was just like old times except for one fatal flaw: its MIDI *suuuuucks*. If it works at all it's so full of timing errors it's unusable. I've even tried it on a MacBook Pro with a USB-MIDI interface, aka *the* reference setup for amateur musicians these days, and it was still totally off.
(On that note, Linux's audio system also *suuuuucks* just as hard, at least on most mainstream distros. If you've ever tried to get the three-headed demon that is ALSA/JACK/PulseAudio to cooperate you know what I'm talking about.)
I discovered via DosBox that Impulse Tracker's MIDI is rock solid and amazing, but running it that way isn't satisfactory because DosBox doesn't emulate the AWE64/Interwave or MMX (needed for simultaneous samples+MIDI out and filters respectively) so you're stuck using it as a MIDI only tracker with the MPU-401 driver.
So... in 2013 I built a complete custom ISA rig just to run DOS & IT again. I tracked down an exceedingly rare (in New Zealand where I am now) GUS PnP Pro & AWE64 for it, ordered a SIMM adapter for the AWE off this Tripod website that hasn't been updated since before the Y2K bug was a thing
, and put it all together. I'm happy to say it works *amazingly* well.
I've got the tight, focused interface of IT in a single-tasking environment, with no creativity-sapping driver issues, and direct control over all my MIDI synths - it feels like I'm *playing* them instead of only willing them to do what I want! Finally!
So that's where I'm at now. I've also played with SunVox a bit (most notably making Sines of Madness
for a compo early this year), which is a really great prog but just not my go-to for creating things.
BTW I still have "my" copy of Adlib Composer from all those years ago; it seems to have worked its way through decades of various archives and backups intact (unlike my 669 files.) It's on my DOS rig now and works just fine. I keep toying with the idea of finally learning it properly and doing something...
Or I'll make a tune or two in something even more obscure (AllSound Tracker, DigiTracker, Imago Orpheus??) But IT is just so comfortable and flows so well with my creative process it's hard to step away!