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Music Production => Tracking => Topic started by: Eagle on February 11, 2007, 14:10:56

Title: The Amateur Tracker Magazine Issue #1
Post by: Eagle on February 11, 2007, 14:10:56
Oh hey, here comes the start of my journalist carrer. :)

Hope you will enjoy it, it's all yours:

Code: [Select]
The Amateur Tracker Magazine - February 2007 Issue #1
 _________   __    __   _______
|___TTT___| |HH|  |HH| |EE ____|
   |TTT|    |HH|__|HH| |EE|
   |TTT|    |HHHHHHHH| |EE|__      _____________
   |TTT|    |HH __ HH| |EE __|    |C-506 v32 C30|
   |TTT|    |HH|  |HH| |EE|____   |_____________|
   |TTT|    |HH|  |HH| |EEEEEEE|  |A M A T E U R|
   |___|    |__|  |__| |_______|  |_/\__/#\__/\_|

 ________   ______      _____      ____    __    __    ______    ///___
|*~*~~*~*| |      \    /     \    /   -|  | ||  / /|  || EE E|  |      \
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   |__|    |__| \__|  |__| |__|   \____|  |_L|  \_\|  LL_____|  |__| \__|

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|  \\    /  ||  /   \   / ----|  /VVV\  |<    Z| |VV| | ||   | || |     ||
|   \\  /   || | ... | / / ___| |*****| |___   | |--| |  \\  | || | ____L|
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| |\     /| || |     | || |  _  |     |   // /   |__| | __ \\| || | LL__
| ||\   //| || |  _  | || | |.| |  _  |  // /    |  | | ||\ \| || | ___L|
| || \_// | || | | | | || \_||| | | | | |  /___  |  | | || \   || | LL___
| ||      | || | | | | \ \___|| | | | | |Z    >| |..| | ||  \  || |     ||
|_L|      |_L| |_| |_|  \_____| |_| |_| |______| |__| |_L|   |_L| |_____L|

|row|-= * Table of contents * =-|note|

#01 Welcome
 /\/ Welcoming Message /\/
 /\/ Reviewing standards /\/
 /\/ Contact Info /\/

#02 Leader
 /\/ Standardisation, bad or good? /\/

#03 Scene News
 /\/, finally in production! /\/

#04 Article
 /\/ The quirks of Tone Portamento /\/

#05 Interview
 /\/ Jay! It's Ceekayed! /\/

#06 Reviewed Track
 /\/ Love Theme by Jogeir Liljedahl /\/

#07 Featured Tracker
 /\/ ChibiTracker /\/

#08 Next Magazine

|#01|-= * Welcome * =-|C-5|
 /\/ Welcoming Message /\/

Welcome to the first issue of The Amateur Tracker Magazine! As the magazine name suggests, this is a magazine written by an amateur, me, Fredrik "Eagle" Larsson, for amateur trackers.

The very reason I started writing this magazine was that I felt I needed to contribute to the tracker scene and make it more exciting. The last time someone seemed to bother to make a web magazine for trackers was back in the 90's, and the few tries that were made back in the first years of this decenium has been meager and mostly been surviving as scene news and forums and then moderated by the community. That is a good thing, but the journalism is lacking, of course, as a result.

I hope you will come to enjoy this magazine. After all, it's free and may be distributed freely on the web under the only condition that no editing has been made. If do not find this magazine enjoyable, ignore it - it will not hurt you!

In this issue, we will feature a fairly new tracker called ChibiTracker, which was released just two months ago as I'm writing this. The new system of the popular website is now available for the public. We have interviewed the fairly popular tracker artist once known as "Crimson King" or currently "Ceekayed".

Read on and enjoy!

-Fredrik "Eagle" Larsson

 /\/ Reviewing standards /\/

Since this magazine will have a review of a module in every issue, naturally, we will have to explain the standards of this reviewing system. For example, what does that 7 as a quick score really mean?

0-3 = This is a score given to a module which falls so short from what it tries to achieve that it really is not worth to listen to. First songs, complete failures and so on are likelly to fall into this genre.

4 = This is a score given to a module in which the bad aspects outweighs the good ones. Be prepared to be disappointed by a module with this kind of score.

5 = An average module. These are the kind of modules which does it's job but really does not offer anything new or special. Modules of a wornout genre and such are likelly to recieve this score. These modules are of the sort that you easilly forget.

6 = An above average module. This is the kind of module that has some good ideas and is quite enjoyable but does not really get all the way there.

7-8 = A well-polished module. A module with this score is usually very satisfying and possibly offers something new and pleasing to listen to but is not perfect. These kind of modules sounds very good but may be lacking in something.

9 = An excellent module. The composer should be proud. This is a score given only to modules which are truly excellent and really has no obvious bad aspects at all. These kinds of modules are very rememberable.

10 = Masterpiece! This is a module which strikes right into your heart and stays there. This score can be quite subjective, but if a song recieves this score, it does usually deserve it, or is near to.

 /\/ Contact Info /\/

For comments, questions and so on, you may contact me by electronic mail. Be reserved that this mail adress may not be in use any longer in the future, of course. But do not let that stop you from trying!

|#02|-= * Leader * =-|F#5|
 /\/ Standardisation, bad or good? /\/

There are tons of trackers out there. Many are good, popular and user-friendly while a lot of them are poor, almost completely unknown and difficult to use. When a new tracker is introduced, very often is a new module format.

The most popular module formats are MOD, S3M, XM and IT. These four module formats has grown to a point, which they are actually taken for granted to be supported by any music player software with module support.

The four mentioned format has become a standard, setting the trend for nearly all new trackers. Why is this bad? Maybe it's not, but new effects would be great, would not it? Or would it?

We have gotten so used to the standard module effects of the 4 before-mentioned formats that we can't quickly come to think of new ones. What if we introduced an effect called, e.g. Pxy which causes the sound playback to jump 2 offsets forward then one offset backwards and so on in the offset length and tempo specified by x and y. The ideas are there, but they are not being developed, perhaps because it's too much of a hassle and the effects would not be widely used and supported.

Of course, with new creative ideas, there are new problems introduced. One of many of the common problems is player compatibility issues. If I make effect X, which is extremely complicated, the player programmer may fail completely to make the module format sound the same on someone else's player, and the module format will probably be end up abandoned as the end-user would perhaps end up having to use some special player to play the module format or the tracker itself or because nobody else could play it.

So, is standardisation good or bad? Putting boarders to the extent of your creativity is comforting but discourage new ideas and a possible improvement. At the same time, it is a lot of trouble to go through if we have to constantly learn new things, think new thoughts and so on instead of spending our valuable time on making our new musical ideas a reality.

What will it be, new tracker effects or new music? The tracker is just a tool to make music composing easier, so the 4 formats is, and will continue to be, what we will come to associate to whenever modules are mentioned. But can the future really hold for these limitations?

End of philosophic rant.

|#03|-= * Scene News * =-|A#5|
 /\/, finally in production! /\/

In the early beginning, was just a small website designed only to be able to handle a few hundreds of modules. But it quickly grew in popularity and would until 2004 remain in a miserable state of manual administration which of course will not work out with over 10GB of modules and over 30 000 modules.

Due to the massive administration problems, the, today, very active admin of named Greg "Redheat"/"m0d" Tuby has, since 2004, been developing a fresh new and up-to-date system. Since recently the new system was only available for use to a few selected testers (which I, the writer of this magazine was and am still one of). Today it's now up for public use and testing while the old has nearly been shut down, although you can still browse more or less as you please, however with noticeably lower performance.

With the new system of The Mod Archive public, we can expect the Mod Archive to remain a healthy community in the future. Cheers to Greg Tuby for his hardcore administration (oh yeah, he's been spending basically every spare time he had on the development of the new system) and great work!

So, what does the new system have to offer? Except for a stable system, it's skinable (choose your theme by the links on the left bar), it's faster, it's W3 compliant and is a lot easier to browse. The search system is much easier to use and more dependable. Where the old search would fail half the times, the new one works perfectly.

Visit Mod Archive:

|#04|-= * Articles * =-|C#6|
 /\/ The quirks of Tone Portamento /\/

Have you ever used tone portamento? The effect is commonly called 3xx or Gxx as they are in MOD/XM respective S3M/IT. The interesting part with this effect is that it is handled differently in nearly every player and tracker - and that is what this article is about.

For example, between the different trackers and players, the speed of the tone portamento varies a bit between them which mean that a slow portamento may be somewhat faster in another player or tracker. But there's more.

If you use two instruments, the quirks and differences in tone portamento handling becomes even clearer. Let's say we have C-4 03 with a 310/G10 effect, if we then put D-5 06 with the same effect, we'd get very varying results between the trackers and players. ModPlug Tracker and Player would play this effect by sort of mixing the two instruments up into one which it portaments into. This is something ModPlug is alone with. Do the same in MilkyTracker and you would hear the first instrument being played without portamento and the new note would be played and portamented to the next note with the same instrument. If a new note with the old instrument was played you would hear the old instrument sort of kick back and slide to the new note. Similar results have been achieved in WinAmp, XMPlay and DeliPlayer 2.

Now, the interesting part is not only the differencies in handling tone portamento between the players and trackers but also how you can use this incompatibility to your advantage. Question is, what is that advantage? We will leave that to the composer to find out.

As for an example module which takes advantage to this problem is "Huh? HUH?!", an amiga-style funk song by me, the author of this article (it was this module I discovered this incompatibility). You can download this song at:

Comment on this article by sending mail to me by the e-mail adress presented above at the welcome message.

|#05|-= * Interviews * =-|D-6|
 /\/ Jay! It's Ceekayed! /\/

In this issue, we have an interview with the popular artist Ceekayed.

Eagle: OK, let's start with the standard procedure. ;)
/\/ Ceekayed: Sure thing :)

Eagle: What's your real name?
/\/ Ceekayed: Sampo Närhi

Eagle: Hehe, that's a nice name. Original.
/\/ Ceekayed: Närhi means Jay in English.

Eagle: Oh, like the famous ripper!
/\/ Ceekayed: Haha, exactly!

Eagle: How long have you been tracking?
/\/ Ceekayed: I think the first time I fooled around with a tracker was in '96 or '97. Can't be sure though.

Eagle: I see, what got you started?
/\/ Ceekayed: Hmm.. It was our neighbours' joke songs they made with fasttracker. I thought it was pretty darn cool, so I decided to give it a try.
It was my brother who actually brought me those joke songs, and he also started tracking before I did - He just moved on to graphic designing right after.

Eagle: Oh, that's cool. What did you track back then? You know, what genre? Crap, mayhaps? ;)
/\/ Ceekayed: Metal, metal, METAL, metal?, (metal metal), did I already say metal? And crap.

Eagle: Haha! You used to call yourself "Crimson King". Why did you choose to call yourself that?
/\/ Ceekayed: First of all, it has got nothing to do with King Crimson. The real origin of the name comes from Stephen King's books, mainly from the Dark Tower series.

Eagle: So what made you decide to settle down with that nick?
/\/ Ceekayed: Uhh, that's a hard one. Well, I love the word Crimson, and the colour itself...

Eagle: So you just picked it because it popped up?
/\/ Ceekayed: Hmm, well yeah. I guess Stephen King didn't have that much to do with the nick afterall.. Though if it wasn't for the character called Crimson King, I might have settled with a different "Crimson nick".

Eagle: "Ceekay" sounds like CK. Was your current nick picked from the initials of Crimson King?
/\/ Ceekayed: Yes. I've been always more CK than Crimson King or Ceekayed. :)

Eagle: Hehe. :)
/\/ Ceekayed: Pardon me, I need a smoke. :)

Eagle: Oh, you're a smoker! Ta-ta! Bad boy. :P

* Ceekayed leaves for a short while. *

/\/ Ceekayed: Back. Yes, a bad habit. I enjoy it though... most of the time. Actually only in mornings and after lunch and with coffee. :)

Eagle: Hmm, well, to change the subject, what genre do you stick to these days? 10 years is a long time of tracking history, so I take it you've been going through a lot phases.
/\/ Ceekayed: Well, I've left metal, more or less. I've done some stuff with real guitars during the past few years but haven't released anything. So it's mostly electronic based genres nowdays. Mainly industrial and breakbeat'ish chillout.

Eagle: What made you go from metal to electronic music?
/\/ Ceekayed: I realized that tracking metal was wasted work, as one can't possibly achieve realistic sound by using IT. So I stopped pretending and moved to genres that don't require me to think what sounds to use and if they sound artificial etc.

Eagle: Yes, it's true. Metal and other genres with electric guitars is terribly difficult to make in a tracker.
/\/ Ceekayed: I also became tired of metal in general because it really is a boring genre once you get inside of it.

Eagle: I see. Are there any module of yours which is special to you?
/\/ Ceekayed: That's a hard one.. No, not really. The songs I'm working on are always special at the time, but after I get them finished and released, I forget about them.

Eagle: Aye, let's screw the old stuff and think about the future!
/\/ Ceekayed: f00t00r

Eagle: Anyway, are there someone else's module you really like?
/\/ Ceekayed: Oh damn, now people are going to kill me.. To be honest, I don't listen to modules alot. And never have. There's a one exception and that's xerxes' work.

Eagle: Haha, yeah, Xerxes's music is good.
/\/ Ceekayed: Oh, there's always Teque! And Alexander Brandon - those two were my favorite artists some years back.

Eagle: Where do you get your inspiration?
/\/ Ceekayed: Inspiration? I don't know. I really don't do anything inspirational ever. When I start a song it either works out or it doesn't.

Eagle: Hehe, yeah, I recognise that scenario. It's rarelly ever about inspiration, it's more about mood, right?
/\/ Ceekayed: Right. Though, for me the inspiration comes after I get a song started well. When that happens, I sit at my computer for 6-8 hours and just bash my keyboard until I feel like the song's ready.

Eagle: No stop for food, huh?
/\/ Ceekayed: Well, I keep those cigarette breaks and make more coffee at some point. :)

Eagle: :)
/\/ Ceekayed: But I've learned not to neglect the "inspiration". One of my songs just got stuck a week ago because I went to sleep when I actually wanted to keep on working on the song.

Eagle: Less about tracking, is there something else you enjoy doing at your spare time?
/\/ Ceekayed: Hmm.. I enjoy beer, with friends preferably. I also IRC alot, but can't say if I enjoy it or not. :)

Eagle: We are a strange bunch on IRC. :)
/\/ Ceekayed: And I read loads.

Eagle: Books, you mean?
/\/ Ceekayed: Books. Those things with the strange symbols.

Eagle: Haha! Not a fan of TV, are you?
/\/ Ceekayed: Screw the TV. I watch it very, very rarely.

Eagle: Do you do some form of other art, except from music? Like painting, writing and so on? Or maybe you just make beer can sculptures? :P
/\/ Ceekayed: Nah... I've written a bit, and would want to write more, but when I feel like doing something creative I always end up opening IT. And I don't drink canned beer. :P

Eagle: Oh, I'm too young to know the difference between beer and beer, you know. ;)
/\/ Ceekayed: haha. :)

Eagle: Before we end this interview, is there something you'd like to add or tell our readers?
/\/ Ceekayed: I sure am not going to give any cliché'ish tracking advices here. You've heard those already. ;) Guess I should say something funny instead.

Eagle: Haha, yeah, go ahead!
/\/ Ceekayed: Hmm, lets see... crap. There!

Eagle: Hahahehehe! Funnay! :P
/\/ Ceekayed: go check if you happen to own nwn2, or even if you don't.

Eagle: Alright. Well, thank you Ceekayed for your time. It was nice talking to you.
/\/ Ceekayed: Unn, care for some groundmeat-rice-cream-chili-thingy?

* Eagle leaves silently through the backdoor while Ceekayed starts cooking his supper. *

As for those who are interested in Ceekayed's music we direct them to following pages:

|#06|-= * Reviewed Tracks * =-|B-5|
 /\/ Love Theme by Jogeir Liljedahl /\/

Quick Rating: 8

For the first issue of The Amateur Tracker Magazine I have choosen to review Love-theme1 by Jogeir Liljedahl. This track is actually a ProTracker module ripped from the demo known as Virtual Demo. It is also included with the seemingly abandoned ProTracker 5 Alpha, the project to bring the famous ProTracker from the amiga to windows which was started by Ruben Monteiro.

The songs starts softly with a few synths, basses and drums and quickly escalates into a happy melody. The song seems interesting already at this point. A cymbal crash and the song changes melody but sticks to the key.

After 1:30, chords and an old school flangering synth brass carries the melody. The whole thing has a very clear 90's style over it and is very effectfull.
  2:50 the mood changes, the chords fades out soom and an electric guitar fret as well as a few beeps takes over. The chords comes back, though, around 3:20. The synthbrass comes back but plays a different theme.

The song nears its end and at 4:10 the song transposes slightly and the mood turns very happy as the crystals kicks in. At 4:40 it sounds like the song ends, but surprises you by coming back and half a minute later starts fading out. This is a plus to the composer.

All this time the module took the full advantage of the four channels and the old ProTracker effects. Fades combined with note transpose, vibrato and volume sets all over. The energy put into the song is clearly vast.

The samples are often of chords and they are used in a way which seems to fool you there are actually 5 instruments in the song in several parts.

Being happy, energetic and both musically and technically effective, this module should be taken a look at, if you can find it, of course. You may ask me for it by e-mail (mentioned above).

// Eagle

|#07|-= * Featured Tracker * =-|G-5|
 /\/ ChibiTracker /\/

November 24th 2006, a new musical possibility would see daylight with the initial release of ChibiTracker. ChibiTracker is like a powered up Impulse Tracker clone. Being cross-platform, skin-able and open-source it allows for a lot of customisation. ChibiTracker is an Impulse Tracker clone, by the way.

ChibiTracker features a fairly advanced sample editor. Not a substitute to a real sample studio but powerful enough to use for minor editing. You can add chorus, reverb and other effects on your samples as well as cut, copy and paste your sample data.

The tracker is fairly easy to use and is recommended to test if you like Schism Tracker or Impulse Tracker. In general, it's not particularly special and there are no real news introduced, but it is still a great tracker to try out.

A slight bit of critisism would be that the tracker has yet to support the ProTracker .MOD format. But it will (hopefully) come eventually.

Download ChibiTracker at:

|#08|-= * Next Magazine * =-|D-5|
In the next issue! Here is a prognose of what may, I say again, *may* be added in the next issue.

Leader: Rip! Rip! Stop the rippers!

Scene News: Breakpoint 2007 is coming up!
            Ripping Timberland, the case continues!

Articles: Dipping the chips
          Tune that tune

Interview: Say hello to old-chip HyoChan

Reviewed track: Goathack

Featured Tracker: BeaverSweeper
Look forward to the next issue in Mars!
Title: The Amateur Tracker Magazine Issue #1
Post by: Ceekayed on February 13, 2007, 04:54:36
'tis a nice lil' magazine. Especially the philosophic rant was good reading.