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Author Topic: even more absolute beginner - diary of getting started  (Read 6036 times)

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meemoe_uk

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even more absolute beginner - diary of getting started
« on: August 06, 2008, 23:44:16 »

unlike toneunkee, I have no experience of trackers. I am a coder. I would like to get into tracking. And am willing to spend a few hours a week to get started. This isn't the 1st time I've tried. A couple of years ago I downloaded protracker and tried to work it on my own. Impossible!
This time I'll try to use the resources of this community.

1st impression of milkytracker, looks very complicated, and unconventional compared to most apps ( is there a reason why there's no 'new' button in the file manager button bank?  Does 'Zap' = 'new' ? ).

Decided I needed help so I checked out the forum and was led to the trackers handbook. I picked up a few things. But got hopelessly stuck when it said
"Input a note,". How? Looked through documentation. The Q key is spose to input a note
Pressed Q,1,2,W etc - no result.
Read some more, milkytracker docs said that editmode had to be on. How do you switch editmode on?
tried following the section switching docs
used ALT CTRL to get to different editmodes then tried Q,1,2 etc.. no result.

I remember feeling like this last time I tried to be a tracker. It's impervious to my efforts.
Please help.
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raina

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Re: even more absolute beginner - diary of getting started
« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2008, 01:29:12 »

You figured it, Zap > All is "New" but there's other options as well if you don't want to zap everything. It's called Zap because of Fasttracker heritage.

Depending on your selected edit mode (MilkyTracker or Fasttracker, the latter being the default) enabling it is a little different but what's shared between both is either pressing the space bar and clicking the Rec button.

I'm about to PM you next, so check your messages soon.

EDIT: Added the bit in bold. ;)
« Last Edit: August 07, 2008, 11:16:59 by raina »
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meemoe_uk

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Re: even more absolute beginner - diary of getting started
« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2008, 04:27:39 »

thx raina, did the trick.

Seems unlike all other apps, trackers have refused to conform to app convention.

OK, I was pleased to get some response from the thing. Now I got C-5.1.....,  obviously C-5 was the note and octave. I guessed the '1' was the instrument. I anticipated there wouldn't be any noise when I played it. The instrument box was empty.

Next task, get an instrument loaded.
I'd guessed any sound sample would be ok, so I tried .wav but that didn't work, seems like I needed a special file. Read the docs and it said I needed 'xi' format. Where do I find them? Tried mod archive home page but there were no obvious links. Tried yahoo search but 'xi archive' gave football clubs. 'xi archive instrument' found...
http://www.kiarchive.ru/pub/misc/sounds/samples/ft2/CATEGORY/GUITAR/ACOUSTIC/
and I downloaded 'acoustic guitar 1'.

Got it working quick. Tried to write 'row row row your boat'. Got stuck when I wanted to raise the octave. But eventually figured that the F key has to be pressed SIMULTAINIOUSLY with the note key, as apposed to after.

Fiddled with the box in the top left to give me more space to write more notes, but couldn't play whole song back. But reckon I'll figure it out soon.

Other Stuff figured out this week...
The clicked mouse cursor doesn't determine the position of the note, it's the pink bar.
Pink bar is moved with up down arrow keys.
Insert and backspace keys to insert and delete notes ( a bit like text editing )
BPM is beats per minute, and is easily variable.
Found a way to have more than 1 sound channel simultainiously playing - put music into sound channel 1, then mouse click on other channel head and use the swap channels command.

Didn't bother with 'ordering your resources' as suggested by trackers handbook. Such elaborate layout of files is only necessary for experts. Just stuck all files in milkytracker directory.
Reckon milkytracker is not quite 'plug and play'. What with the lack of instruments.

Didn't finish 1 channel 'row your boat' song, but confident I'll finish it next time.

Already I think I'm getting the hang of it. Things are starting to happen when I want them to! Had fun trying to get row your boat to sound right, I had to think about the rhythm carefully, came as a suprise since it isn't a problem when I'm playing guitar.

No outstanding problems at end of week!
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raina

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Re: even more absolute beginner - diary of getting started
« Reply #3 on: August 07, 2008, 12:01:22 »

I'd guessed any sound sample would be ok, so I tried .wav but that didn't work, seems like I needed a special file. Read the docs and it said I needed 'xi' format.
XI is the instrument format which MilkyTracker uses and which contains one or several samples and some additional information like the volume and panning envelopes, auto-vibrato etc.. But you really SHOULD be able to load plain WAV files as well. What isn't supported ATM are encoded files like MP3. You can load them too but they'll appear as binary noise.

Got it working quick. Tried to write 'row row row your boat'. Got stuck when I wanted to raise the octave. But eventually figured that the F key has to be pressed SIMULTAINIOUSLY with the note key, as apposed to after.
Actually, you can select the octave first and then input notes. If you click the tiny vertical buttonlet marked "Flip" above the "Save As..." button, you can see the currently selected octave.

Found a way to have more than 1 sound channel simultainiously playing - put music into sound channel 1, then mouse click on other channel head and use the swap channels command.
You can also move to other channels with the Tab key or by clicking them.

Already I think I'm getting the hang of it. Things are starting to happen when I want them to! Had fun trying to get row your boat to sound right, I had to think about the rhythm carefully, came as a suprise since it isn't a problem when I'm playing guitar.

No outstanding problems at end of week!
Nice, keep it up, and keep us posted.

Everybody, meemoe_uk has agreed to become the (first of possibly many to come) MilkyTracker blogger. He's going to share his experiences of MilkyTracker as a beginner documenting the expected and unexpected challenges as well as successes. Hopefully this will help and inspire others in his position and provide a fresh angle on things for the rest of us. In exchange I've promised him the team's tireless support on his efforts, so people, don't leave him hanging.

The diary entries will show up on the website some time soon.

meemoe_uk

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Re: even more absolute beginner - diary of getting started
« Reply #4 on: August 19, 2008, 14:16:46 »

Got my row boat song working, also I've got the hang of the top left most box, for managing the 'sheets' of music.
 'cept one thing.
All these buttons add a sheet, but its a copy of a pre-existing sheet.
'seq', 'cln','Ins', the plus button next to length, and the plus button under Ins.   
How do you add a blank sheet?

Another function I was wanting from a tracker was to display music from games. But I found milkytraker's scope to be pretty limited here. Is there a folder for music fomat codecs so the tracker can interpret them? Or do I need another app?
« Last Edit: August 19, 2008, 14:28:26 by meemoe_uk »
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raina

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Re: even more absolute beginner - diary of getting started
« Reply #5 on: August 19, 2008, 16:14:57 »

A blank pattern is a number you haven't yet used in the sequence. If you repeat a number, it's not a copy of a previous pattern, it IS the pattern.

SEQ adds the next (sequential) unused pattern in the sequence. CLN clones the current pattern to the next unused one. INS just inserts another instance of the current pattern in the sequnce. The + and - increment and decrement the pattern number respectively.

To add a blank pattern, simply use a number you haven't used before.

Sure MilkyTracker can load game music, if it was made in a tracker, which is fairly marginal these days. Actually, it always was on the PC where MIDI and Adlib music were more common. There is no such folder or codec support, MilkyTracker can import over 30 tracker formats as is but very few games use them. Exceptions include older Epic Megagames releases like One Must Fall 2097, Jazz Jackrabbit and Epic Pinball which use the .PSM format (converted .MTM), Disney's Aladdin that uses .AMF (converted .MOD) and Unreal and Deus Ex which use .UMX (converted from various standard formats).

It is taking a lot longer than originally planned to support Un4seen Developments' .MO3 format which is MOD/XM/IT/S3M with MP3/Ogg Vorbis/Lossless sample compression. This format is used by some indie and casual game developers nowadays. For now, you need to unmo3 the files first.

Of course there are also games which use common module formats straight up. But you can't expect MilkyTracker (or any other software) to universally convert any game music to tracker format. Streamed audio has been ruling the market about since CD-ROM games came out.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2008, 16:22:10 by raina »
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meemoe_uk

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Re: even more absolute beginner - diary of getting started
« Reply #6 on: August 28, 2008, 02:15:26 »

thx raina, infact it's not too hard to work out. It was a moment of laziess to not work out the buttons.

I'm not getting as much time a week as I thought I would.

The tracker interface continues to be easy to figure out. In fact too much so. I'm spose to be posting problems I'm having with it, but everything can be worked out intutively or from reading the online manuals.
- Figured out the 'stop sound' instruction.

This week I tried some drum beats. I downloaded some more files from that sample archive. All I tried to do was get the beat in my head onto the tracker. I got the beat, but it sounded lifeless somehow. I think it's because there are subtletys to drumbeats. Is there some instructive stuff on how to 'add life' into a correctly timed , but otherwise 'dead' beat?

Also I'm working on a remake of lemmings2 beach level tune. I don't have the tune, I'm working from memory. It's going ok, the notes and rythym seem right, but somehow the song feels quite dead or wooden.
I think there's a tips page for newbies on how to convert a song from 'dead' to 'live' somewhere ...
http://modarchive.org/forums/index.php?topic=250.0
I'll have to try what it says.

So far, I'd say the hardest and most frustrating part of getting started tracking was the 1st week. Just having to search the net for a sample was annoying. And the space bar -  edit mode!  >:( grrr.
Once I'd done them, it all became easier and I could concentrate on the music rather than the tracker.
I think milky tracker should try to be a bit more 'plug and play'. i.e. come with a few 'get started' samples.


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urban soul

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Re: even more absolute beginner - diary of getting started
« Reply #7 on: September 02, 2008, 03:05:35 »

I think milky tracker should try to be a bit more 'plug and play'. i.e. come with a few 'get started' samples.
Oh, there are. Check out these demo songs - Fxx comands e.g. F05,F06,F05... changes the timing (aka speed) a bit. Shuffle. Check it out. Its fun!
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meemoe_uk

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Re: even more absolute beginner - diary of getting started
« Reply #8 on: September 18, 2008, 23:26:20 »

thx urbansoul. I will try them out. Just dropping in say I haven't gone away. I'm busy finishing my game ( my 6 year project ), I'm currently browsing for great racy chip tunes for it on the archives! That and tons of other stuff (including starcraft, sorry). So not much time for tracking. But tracking is something I've wanted to do for a long time so I'm not going away. Hopefully I can step up the tracking when I get back. I've seen other newbies start much faster than me. I'll try to be like them when I get back. I'll be off for a couple more weeks I think. Seeyas.
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