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Topics - ModTomIT

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Tracking / Polyend Tracker
« on: September 27, 2023, 07:30:35 »
I was convinced by a friend who is a hardware geek to get this. I like it. Its interface is pretty nice. It's a little limited compared to a modern tracker in some ways but does have a few nice built in effects. The main thing I'd wish is that you could transfer files and samples to the SD card via USB but it's not too big of a deal. I had an idea to perform with two of these synced with the friend if I visit him. He says he used it to control other hardware he had...

It's hard to import other modules made in other programs, you can import MOD and IT with (I think?) up to 8 channels.

I do think that while a PC is definitely where I prefer to do tracking, making stuff to perform with is this thing's strength, since its interface really allows for switching between stuff and changing things on the fly for performance easier than any PC tracker I know of.

Anyways, it arranges samples and patterns in a folder and doesn't use or have its own "file format", which is disappointing but I guess saves resources on the tracker. It'd be nice if there were a player for PC. I don't think it would be hard to emulate this with a software emulator (for playing purposes) though...

I saw this mentioned in a thread and maybe I'm trying to convince myself that spending $500 USD on it was worth it when I'm not a hardware guy, haha.

Look what I made! / Music that's more than a square wave
« on: January 27, 2018, 12:45:42 »
Lately I've been terrorizing people under the name Dry Eyes with noise and other weird music instead of making chiptunes that all use the same square wave sample. However, I did make a rather musical album that shows off my Renoise chops, using samples (no VSTs because I'm in Linux). It's called Resonance. I'm proud of it, I hope you all like it.

Tracking / Some Observations on the Diatonic Scale for Trackers
« on: September 04, 2017, 12:49:36 »
Here are a few observations about the diatonic scale:

- The diatonic scale could be viewed as selecting seven notes from the chromatic scale. This leaves 5 notes that aren't used. These five notes that  aren't used are the pentatonic scale used in Chinese and rock'n'roll music.

- Another interesting relationship of the pentatonic scale to the diatonic scale: In a minor key (let's use A minor since it has no accidents), not only are there minor triads at I, IV, and V (A, D, and E), but you can play a pentatonic scale with these notes as the root. So the diatonic scale can be deconstructed into three overlapping pentatonic scales.

- Don't know where to modulate? Try modulating completely out of the scale into the diminished scale by going to the VII and playing the diminished scale (in C major this would be changing the scale to [B, D, F, Ab], or playing four select notes of the Locrian mode, but with the fourth note (A) lowered to (Ab)) Then when you have played it for a while you can exit the diminished scale by playing a major scale one half step up from wherever you are. Alternately, you could then go from the diminished scale into a major-minor scale rather smoothly.

- The diabolus in musica (tritone, diminished fifth, augmented fourth) could be viewed as what's missing from a pentatonic scale that would make it a diatonic scale. I think if you were to view the pentatonic scale as feminine (this is only one viewpoint, do not take this so seriously), it is obvious what the tritone represents to make the diatonic scale masculine >:)

- Tired of the Aeolian mode (Minor scale)? Try playing the Phyrgian mode, which is exactly the same notes but with a second note that is lowered by a half step (C, Db, Eb, F, G, Ab, Bb) or (C, C#, D#, F, G, G#, A# for trackers). It is, in my opinion, the strongest sounding mode of the diatonic scale, evoking force in the restlessness caused by the first note of the scale being a leading tone to the second note.

[Comments, suggestions, corrections, or additional observations welcome!]

Tracking / A Short Text on the Hungarian Minor Scale for Trackers
« on: September 01, 2017, 10:10:07 »
If I were forced to pick one scale which evoked feelings of majesty in the night, it would be the Hungarian minor scale. It is one note different from the Harmonic minor scale, and thus two notes different from the natural minor scale. The scale has a raised 4th which adds extra harmonic character to the scale. Together with the major 7th, the scale has all the vitality of the major scale, but while being a minor scale with a tritone available in 4 places on the scale (the I, II, IV, VI all have a tritone connected to them).

The notes in C are:              C, D, Eb, F#, G, Ab, B
(with all sharps for trackers):  C, D, D#, F#, G, G#, B

Due to the position of the notes on the scale, consonant, uninverted triads are only available on I, V, VI, and VII. However, VI may be major or minor, and the VII has this property as well. Therefore, chord progressions may take advantage of the harmonic richness concentrated in the upper half of the scale, using the I as a focal point and moving backwards to chords one the VII, VI, and V. Aproperty that can be exploited is that the I is minor, and the VII triad may be minor as well, creating a unique sound as one minor chord moves a half step backward into another minor chord.

It should be noted that playing dyads rather than triads can give more freedom of expression within the scale, opening up the bottom half of the scale in terms of root notes. Also, inversions can be played on the II and III to great effect.

When playing melodies, there are two places in the scale which have an interval of a step and a half (between the III and IV and the VI and VII). This can be exploited to give a melodic flavor which can't be found in scales without this intervallic leap. The IV, V, and VI are each a half step from the previous degree, and this rather jarring arrangement can also be used to add uniqueness to one's melodies.

By playing a mode of this scale, staring on the V, one is playing the scale used in much Arab music.

Try playing the notes in blues-rhythm context!

All in all the Hungarian minor scale is in my opinion a logical place to go once one has mastered the Harmonic minor scale, and is under-used in the West, providing much grandeur and introducing new harmonic and melodic possibilities to one's music.

(Comments, additions, feedback welcome...)

The Lobby / Oblique Strategies
« on: August 25, 2017, 09:27:55 »

"Oblique strategies. Oblique strategies is a set of cards created by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt used to break deadlocks in creative situations. Each card contains a (sometimes cryptic) remark that can help you resolve a creative dilemma. Whenever you're stuck you draw a card and ponder how it applies to your situation."

Good for tracking when you're stuck on what to do next :)

A Short Text on the Octatonic Major-Minor Scale for Trackers
by ModTomIT

The major-minor scale is an interesting one. While in Western music most of the time there are only five notes or (more commonly) seven notes in an octave, the major-minor crams eight notes into the scale. This has some advantages and disadvantages. The first is, well, more notes to play and thus more harmonic relationships to exploit. The disadvantage is that playing the scale can sound meandering (and thus, bad) more than with the other scales.

The Major-Minor scale is: Half-step, whole-step, half-step, whole-step, half-step, whole-step, half-step, whole-step. If its in the “key” of C, then it goes (with all sharps and no flats for trackers ;))

C, C#, D#, E, F#, G, A, A#

One thing you’ll notice really soon is the geometric repetition of form in the scale as it repeats a basic pattern four times. If you play this on a guitar or mandolin, for instance, you’ll notice the scale has the same finger pattern after every 3 notes. This makes it really easy to learn on stringed instruments, and if you have a guitar or a cello or something I really suggest you learn the basic pattern on the fingerboard.

So, note that this scale is the same every four notes. We’ll call an instance of this sameness a “unit” of the scale, for ease of learning. Each “unit” is the same, only at a different place in the scale. This means that C Major-minor, D# Major-minor, F# Major-minor, and A-Major-minor are the EXACT same scale.

So stop. Look what you have on any given note. A minor third. Every single note on this scale has a minor third ahead of it, and thus a minor third behind it. Since 3-semitones times 2 equals 6 semitones, or a tritone (diminished fifth), every note also has a tritone behind it, and ahead of it. This is one property you can exploit when constructing melodies on the scale, but you are limited in what chords can be used in a consonant manner (because, you know, the diminished fifth is a very dissonant interval).

Let’s look at the four notes at the beginning of each “unit” of the scale. What do we have on each? A fifth, a minor-third, and a major third. This property is where you can get some interesting chord action going. So in C-Major-minor, on C, D#, F#, and A, you have a major triad AND a minor triad. This allows you to create very exotic and complex moods and longer chord progressions with your music! You can change a chord from minor to major in the middle of a bar, play a chord progression in all minor chords, and then the same chord progression but with all major chords. The third of the chord is a way of playing chord melodies that are rich and exotic.

I should add that you may definitely want to ignore the traditional prohibition against parallel fifths (ie, power chord progressions) as having fifths playing on the four roots of the “units” with one instrument allows another instrument to fill in with melodies containing both major and minor thirds and other intervals.

Due to the repeating nature of the scale, complex melodies can be repeated transposed up or down 3, 6, or 9 semitones without modification except for changing their relative position. This can be a cheap composing trick though, so use it tastefully.


Next to the root of each “unit” is a note which has a fourth connected to it. This can be used in creating chord inversions. Say you’re playing in C-Major-minor, you go to C#, and then F# is played with C# to create a fourth dyad. Keep in mind that F# is the root of a “unit”! This allows you to play third inversions of chords that would start at F#, thus allowing triads to be played at any part of the scale, albeit, in a strange manner.

Minor seventh chords are available at the root of each “unit”.

All in all, the octatonic scale is an underused, cool scale that can lend emotional ambiguity and obscurity to a piece; using it creates a playful interplay of light and darkness, which can be used to great effect. I hope you enjoyed and learned something from this!

[Comments, corrections, and suggestions for additions welcome.]

The Lobby / Nostalgia
« on: June 28, 2017, 17:24:58 »
*posting again, this time on correct sub-forum*

Did anyone find that after the nineties were over and this "terror" crap started that all the toys, video games, TV shows, anime, old computers, music and such that you consumed in childhood became this half forgotten type thing that slowly rotted in your mind and combined with all the fear-of-death that people were chowing down on to become this kind of sinister, corrupt, evil thing that was full of promise at one point until everyone let fear take over and it became part of this thing that held the key to the future before but everyone corrupted
into something perverse because they were scared?

*waiting for first 'No.' reply*

Look what I made! / Chaos Algorithms
« on: June 03, 2017, 06:39:26 »

Ever make something and then when you listen to it you're just like "How did I make this?!" Anyways, its my usual 3 channels of square wave, so if that turns you off...well, sorry :P

But for the remaining listeners, I got a screwball module with changing time signatures, bizarre modulations, skewed song structure, but it somehow just works in a weird way. At least I think so! Let me know what you think...

Look what I made! / Unknown Moon released on CD!
« on: April 21, 2017, 21:37:34 »

Due to the incredible popularity of my "square wave only" modules on ModArchive I decided to release my album Unknown Moon on a physical, spin-it-on-your-pinky CD. The disc has the dark side of the moon printed on it, like the cover, its got artwork, a jewel case, shrink wrap...

Or you could just get the modules on modarchive, but seriously man, YOU CAN SPIN THE MOON ON YOUR PINKY! Released by the mostly imaginary record label Fourier Records, i.e., myself.

It's only $5 but shipping might kill you if you're in Europe or Asia.

Check my bandcamp page for more information!

And before anyone accuses me of selling out, I don't expect to make any profit on this, and if I do, it'll be to fund releases on Fourier Records (i.e., make more quality records for me and other people to enjoy for cheap)

The Lobby / Inspiration from Yellow Magic Orchestra
« on: March 18, 2017, 10:03:23 »
I've started buying up Yellow Magic Orchestra LPs, and it just struck me that this pioneering Japanese experimental synthpop band is the right band at the right time to look back on and be influenced by. Just dropping this name, check 'em out if you haven't heard them. They were synthpop influences (along with Kraftwerk) on Chicago house. But they could influence more modern music too, if musicians would listen to them. Which is something I'd like to happen, so I made this post.

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