A guide to Soundtracker and clones

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Clarke Anderson

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Jul 6, 1991, 5:12:37 AM7/6/91
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The following is a Usenet version of a text file I wrote a little
while ago, about the Soundtracker and Noisetracker families, and their
related bits and pieces. I don't really know if many of you will find
it al that interesting, or if anyone will learn anything new. It's
here for you to read, and as an introduction to the various trackers.
It's about 35k long so I think you had better turn on your capture :-)

Please, if you find this file of any interest or use, or you think
others may like it and/or find it useful or interesting, please spread
it far and wide. There is not much point in me destroying my fingers
typing, if no one is going to bother to read this text.

I welcome any feedback or gripes you may have.

-----CUT HERE-----CUT HERE-----CUT HERE-----CUT HERE-----CUT HERE-----

+------------------------------------------------+
| An Overview of the 'Tracker Series on the Amiga|
+------------------------------------------------+
Written by Voodoo, in response to a barrage of questions.

Over the last few weeks on a couple of local BBS's, I have been asked
several questions about the Soundtracker and Noisetracker family.
These included queries like "Which is the best?" and "Which one should
I use?" In replying to these questions, I ended up typing several K of
text. So, in order to prevent me wearing off my fingerprints by
excessive typing, I have written this text file which, I hope, will
answer peoples queries and provide some general information on the
tracker series.

PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS IS ALL FROM MY POINT OF VIEW. Therefore, there
will be differing opinions and ideas. Anything which I have written
which you think is wrong, please get in touch with me so I can rectify
it. My contact address is at the end of this file.

As is common with something of this sort, there will be omissions and
errors. If you find any major errors, or wrongdoings, or think there
is something missing that should be included, then don't hesitate to
get in touch with me.

WHAT IS SOUNDTRACKER AND IT'S CLONES??
--------------------------------------
Soundtracker, Noisetracker, Startrekker and Protracker are the four
main variants on the Soundtracker theme. For easy reference, and
seeing as they are basically the same in principle, I shall refer to
them collectively as Soundtracker (ST).

Soundtracker is a musical sequencer, ie. it plays pre-arranged
musical samples at pre-arranged notes/frequencies in a pre-arranged
order. It has four channels, each one representing an Amiga channel.
These are displayed as vertical columns at the bottom of the screen.
Each column has 64 slots, numbered 0-63. In these slots are placed
the musical notes/data which is then played in order. The 4 columns
of 64 slots are called a pattern. A song is made up of multiple
patterns, which are played in a sequence of their own. The ST has no
provision to generate sounds of it's own, and relies entirely on
samples to produce sound. An exception to this is the latest version
of Startrekker (see below).

The ST stores it's samples on disks named ST-xx: where xx is any
number from 00 to 99. St-00: is used as the base disk, and stores
the tracker, and associated files and directories. The ST needs a
songs directory and a modules directory, both on ST-00:. The ST has
two methods of storing musical tunes, Songs and Modules.

1) SONGS : songs are kept in the songs dir, and the files kept there
contain the music DATA ONLY (pattern order and what notes to play and
when to play them etc). The actual samples used in the song are kept
on the various ST-xx: disks. Thus, when you load up a song, it first
reads the song data, and then prompts you to insert disk ST-xx:. Note
that the samples may be spread over more than one disk. This is the
most compact way of storing tunes as it allows many songs to share
samples, saving disk space due to unnecessary duplication of samples.

Since version 2.3 of ST, there has been a 'packer' for ST song files,
which does to ST songfiles as powerpacker does to executables. It
goes through the songs dir, packing any which aren't already packed.
The NT series (and the later ST's) have a pack function built in which
does the same thing, saving even more disk space.

2) MODULES : modules (mods) are stored in the modules dir. Mod files
contain BOTH music data AND the samples used in the tune. They are
therefore generally very large files (150k + as opposed to 20k for
songs) and take up a lot of room. The advantage of the module is that
it may be included in a game/demo etc and played using a replay
routine. This makes for some very good soundtracks. It is also a
primary reason why Soundtracker was written in the first place. No
other files are required to play a module, unlike songs where the
samples must first be loaded in from disk. The samples are stored
inside the mod file.

NT v1.3 by UFO (see below) now has a pack module option built in.
This works in a similar way to the song packer, except the packed
modules can NOT be read by the tracker again. The idea behind packed
mods is that they can be used in demos/games and save a bit more
space. Packed mods are replayed using a special replay routine
included with NT v1.3 AND the Module packer (see below) written by the
Twins of Phenomena.

Both songs and mods may be played without the use of the tracker
itself, by using player programs (see below). These programs read the
module and play it, or they read the song datas and load in the
samples, and then play them. They enable modules to be played as a
background task on Workbench, rather than having to load a tracker,
which up until recently were NOT multitasking, even using the 'run'
command.

The ST stores all of it's sample data (which disk it's on and how long
is the sample etc) in a file called 'PLST', on the main dir of ST-00:.
This file grows as more and more samples are added, as does the number
of ST-xx: disks.

Soundtracker was originally a commercial program, released in Germany.
However since the sucessive versions have been written by hackers, and
unofficially placed in Public Domain, a question arises : is ST an
illegal program? Legally, yes, I suppose so. Morally, no, definitely
not. So much has been done to enhance the various ST versions over
the years that it is virtually a totally different product. It is
widespread on PD BBS's worldwide, and no-one, including the original
author and software company, has protested or taken steps to stop such
spreading and modification. The same goes for the more recent
Noisetracker 2.0 by Mahoney and Kaktus which was also released as a
commercial product. This has been distibuted all over the place, and
not a word has been uttered. On this I may be wrong, and I invite
anyone interested or involved with the above parties to get in touch
with me and correct me. As things stand at the moment, I DECLARE THE
ST TO BE PUBLIC DOMAIN SOFTWARE AND ENCOURAGE IT TO BE TREATED AS
SUCH. I admit I have no legal right to do so, but the way things are,
I can see no legal repercussions from doing so. The authors of
Protracker (see below) and Startrekker (see below) have openly stated
their programs to be PD, knowing the original was a commercial
product. This is open for discussion and I can be contacted at the
above Usenet Address and Phone number.


THE BEGINNING
-------------
Once upon a time, there was a German by the name of Karsten Obarski.
He took a look at his Amiga one day, and thought 'Hmmmm, what I need
is a decent music program.'. So he sat down and wrote what turned out
to be the first of the Soundtracker family. This was released as a
commercial program. How well it sold, I do not know, other than to
say that it must have had a few fans, to have reached the position it
is now in. The source for Karsten Obarski's Soundtracker found it's
way into the hands of TIP/PROPHET, who produced Master Soundtracker
v1.0. There may well have been versions before this, but I am unaware
of any. I have also seen a version 1.8 of Master Soundtracker, but I
do not know if it was TIP who wrote this, although I presume so. The
Master Soundtracker found it's way among the Amiga Scene, quickly
gaining popularity. One thing worthy of note was that versions 1.0
and 1.8 were incompatible with one another, perhaps a feature that
caused them to be rewritten. I suspect the main differences between
the 1.0 and 1.8 versions were bugs fixed. The Master Soundtrackers
had the same look and feel of todays trackers, ie. they had the four
columns, and were sequencers, playing the notes/samples in a
pre-arranged order. They had the same basic layout of gadgets at the
top of the screen too. The Master Soundtracker became reasonably
popular, used by many. It had the advantage of being dead easy to
use, and songs written could be saved as one file, and included in
games and demos, with the use of a replay routine. This is a major
factor that helped it to become so popular, as many groups used it for
their demos.

SOUNDTRACKER
------------
The source code was then spread among a few more people, the next
version becoming Soundtracker. The first version I came across was
v2.3, by either Unknown of DOC or MnemoTroN, I can't remember which as
it was a long time ago. I do know that Unknown did write version 2.2.
Seeing as I have only seen v2.2 onwards, I cannot comment on any
previous versions. Actually, I am unaware of any versions before 2.2,
although it's probable there were. Soundtracker 2.3 was the version
that made Soundtracker popular. This was spread all over the globe,
along with 4 ST disks full of samples, and seems to be what most
people started their ST colection from. It was about this time that
the demo craze hit the Amiga groups, and any sounds that one heard in
a demo, were 99% likely to come from Soundtracker. Later versions 2.4
and 2.5 were improvements and bug fixes. Currently, v2.5 is the last
version of ST written, as Noisetracker and other variants came out,
quickly superseding the original Soundtracker. The Soundtrackers have
a limitation, in that they can only use 16 different instruments
(instruments are what ST calls samples). The only Soundtracker that
is an exception to this is v2.5, which can use 31 samples, as do all
the Noisetrackers. This is a big problem. Soundtracker cannot play
NT songs, but NT can play ST songs. This incompatibility was another
nail in the ST coffin. The main reason ST 2.5 hung around so long was
that it has an excellent PLST editor. However, once this editor was
installed in the NT, there was nothing it had over NT so it virtually
died. It is a shame that the program which was a pioneer in the Amiga
music scene has now been mothballed. However, that is progress.

NOISETRACKER : Mahoney and Kaktus
---------------------------------
Two guys from Scandinavia, going by the names of Mahoney and Kaktus
burst on the Amiga scene with their own version of ST, called
Noisetracker. I can't recall the first version to be released, I
think it was 1.0. The new program was a revelation. It notonly was
ST compatible, but also had several new features, the most noteworthy
being it being able to use 31 samples instead of the limit of 16 in
ST. The NT also had included a newer replay routine for including
mods in demos/games which had less bugs. In fact the program overall
had less bugs than the ST. The NT was released about the same time as
ST 2.4 I think. As I live in New Zealand, and things don't exactly
come here at a blistering speed, I could be wrong, but thats about the
time I received it.

The NT had two more features that made it stand out. On the ST,to
choose a sample from your PLST, you needed to go through the ENTIRE
list, one at a time, looking at a command bar to see what was the
current sample. NT introduced a full windowed system, where the
samples and their information could be seen at a glance, and scroling
through them was just the same as any other file requester on the
Amiga.

The second great feature was a built in sampler, which enabled you to
make your own samples without the need to exit the program and load up
Audiomaster or similar.

There have been several later releases by M&K, NT 1.1 and NT 2.0 which
was written for EAS software company, and released as a commercial
program (refer to note above). NT 2.0 also included MIDI support,
something which had been requested time and time again by experienced
musicians. The MIDI support in 2.0 is rumoured to be incomplete.
Whether this is true or not, I do not know. NT 2.0 is, however, one
of the more bugfree and reliable trackers, and is very popular,
containing most of the features available on any tracker. As for
AmigaDOS 2.0 compatibility, I do not know. None of the ST range were,
as it wasn't around then. It wasn't around when NT 2.0 was written
either, but as it had MIDI and was released commercialy, I presume it
had to be written properly, and legally (well, reasonably anyway). It
would be my educated guess that it will NOT be OS 2.0 compatible.

NOISETRACKER : UNITED FORCES
----------------------------
I stated above that M&K wrote v1.0 and 1.1. There were several other
releases that I am not too sure about. They are v1.11, v1.12 and
there may possibly be a '+' version somewhere in there too. Any help
or comments would be appreciated. These versions were mainly bug
fixes and updates. However one of these versions was written by Riff
Raff and Antichrist of United Forces. It was very similar in looks,
but had several different features, the most interesting being that
instead of a spectrum analyzer that all previous trackers had, the UFO
version had two scopes (one left two channels, the other the right
two) which displayed the waveforms as they were played. Although this
was of no real use, it looked a hell of a lot nicer than the boring
analyzer. The UFO version also had a small preferences option,
enabling setting of the keyboard and directories for songs, mods, and
the PLST. It also had a CLI option which when clicked, jumped back to
CLI, using a requester to put you back into the NT. This wasn't
really multitasking as you still had to 'run' the NT and it sometimes
didn't work anyway.

I apologize to both Mahoney and Kaktus, and Riff Raff and Antichrist
for any errors I have made about the versions and what they included.
It was a while ago, and things seem kind of hazy to me. I am
currently trying to find older tracker versions to check up.
Alternatively, if you're that annoyed, get in touch with me, by all
means :-)

The latest version of the UFO NT is v1.3 which still has the scopes,
and an improved CLI and preferences option. NT v1.3 also has a very
good disk options menu, something which has been wanted for a long
time. All previous versions of the tracker had a capable disk menu,
one which worked and served it's purpose. However, the improvements
made in NT v1.3 are very good and make it worthwhile. Along with the
new disk menu, there is a Module Packing feature included. This does
the same as the Module Packer written by the Twins of Phenomena,
saving space in demos and games.

Important
---------
Note that due to NT being written by two different groups at the same
time, the version numbers overlap. M&K version 2.0 is actually OLDER
than the UFO NT1.3. It seems confusing, and perhaps UFO could help
matters by renumbering their versions. Only time will tell.

STARTREKKER : EXOLON OF FAIRLIGHT
---------------------------------
There is a problem with the Amiga that many people find annoying, and
that is that it only has 4 sound channels. Although rumours persist
that Commodore will finally give in and produce a new sound chip, it's
unlikely as hell when you take into consideration Commodores record.
So until the day that Commodore wake up to the fact that Amiga owners
aren't terribly happy with them at the moment, we'll have to stick
with the four channels given to us.

Since the hardware option is out, a few people have tried a software
solution. A long time ago, Oktalyzer was written. It was a
sequencer, looking similar to the Soundtracker. However, as the extra
four channels weren't really true, and it wasn't terribly good, the
Oktalyzer faded from popularity. All was not lost however, and
sometime in 1990, the Startrekker was created.

No prizes for guessing what this program was named after. It looked
like just another Soundtracker clone, but it had the added advantage
of having eight sound channels. This is a software trick, and
although I'm not entirely sure on how it works, I'll try to explain as
best I can. The extra four channels are created by either of two
methods. The first is that they are created using the 68000, and that
is why there is no spare processor time. This explains why eight
channel songs are NOT multitasking, and lock the machine when played.
The other theory, is that, by using the 68000 to alternate between the
two sets of four channels, the computer tricks the listener into
thinking that there are an extra four channels. eg. in one 1/50th of
a second the computer plays part of the left four channels, then it
switches to the next four channels for a 1/50th of a second and playes
them. Then the next 1/50th of a second, it switches back, and so on.
This, to me seems the most likely method, as in eight channels mode,
the song sounds slightly 'vibrated' which is most likely caused by the
alternating.

Although the Startrekker was a nice idea, it fell short in two areas.
Firstly, the eight channel mode could not be replayed, and had abysmal
sound quality. Secondly, the save module option in the disk menu, was
incorrect, and did NOT save modules compatible with the other
trackers. Therefore, anything written in four channel mode, and used
in a demo etc, could not be played on any other version tracker. For
the record, note that the program was called Startrekker v2.1. It was
basically NT2.0 (by Mahoney and Kaktus) with the eight channel mode
installed.

There is a newer version of Startrekker out, version 1.3. The save
module option has been changed around, what with a new file requester
etc, BUT it still saves modules in an incompatible format with any
other of the tracker series. The only other tracker that can read
Startekker saved mods is Protracker v1.1b. God knows why this is, but
it is a potentially fatal flaw that is a really big minus on the side
of the Startrekker. Exolon, if you ever read this man, FIX IT!!
Again, the version numbers seem to have been buggered around with,
even though it was written by the same person who wrote the first
Startrekker, Exolon of Fairlight. This new version of Startrekker has
some very good new features included in it, and although I haven't had
time to give it a full test yet, it looks set to be one of the better
trackers to be released. New features include :

- A GOOD eight channel mode, that, while still not really practical
or having very good sound, is a vast improvement over the last
version I saw.

- FM & AM sound generators built in. These are similar to the
synthetic sound capabilities on Future Composer etc. The FM
generator enables virtually any sound to be reproduced, much like a
modern day synthesiser. Although it will never reach the
proportions of a Roland or the like, it IS very good, and very
handy. The AM generator, is used for creating synthetic sounding
noise, like say, the SID chip on the 64 used to, and those kind of
sounds. 'True' computer sounds as it were. This is another useful
include, as it saves having to cut a sample down to a very small
size and loop it, to get those synthetic sounds in the tracker.

Note that sounds produced by both these generators can be stored
either as data (in which case, to play it properly, the song MUST
be replayed through Startrekker v1.3) or they can be saved as a
normal sample.

- MIDI is now supported properly (at least, it appears to be) in a
mode similar to that of eight channel. The tracker, when switched
to this mode, instead of showing a low-res, four column display,
shows a med-res, eight channel display, the latter four either
controlling MIDI or playing the other four channels, depending on
what mode you're in.

- A macro assembler has been included, built in to the main program.
The idea behind this, is that instead of writing to the author, and
moaning that such and such a feature isn't included, you can now
write your own, in a cut down version of assembly language. As I'm
not a programmer myself, I can't comment on the usefulness or
completeness of this, but at first appearance, it seems to be a
good idea.

- A decent file requester has been included, rather than the usual
inbuilt Disk Options menu. It is quite a capable requester,
handling everything nicely, and seems to have no shortcomings. A
very nice and useful feature.

As mentioned above, with these new features, the Startrekker looks
very impressive indeed, but personally, I find the eight channel mode
more or less useless. It cannot be replayed in games or demos as it
hogs the processor, and anything which did include it would probably
be lucky to set up a scroller to go with it. It also produces rather
terrible sound quality, something which cannot really be fixed, other
than by getting an eight channel sound chip. It IS a nice try, and is
a real achievement, doing something which has been called impossible
by even the most die hard programmers.

I am unsure about AmigaDOS 2.0 compatibility. In theory it should run
ok, especially as it has to support a proper file requester, not an
inbuilt menu. However, it was most likley written without OS 2.0 in
mind, and could well fall over.

PROTRACKER : AMIGA FREELANCERS
------------------------------
Protracker has got to be THE revolution in the tracker series so far.
It burst on the scene, jam packed with features, and FULL
documentation, something the previous trackers have lacked a little.
That aside, the Protracker, is another variant on the tracker theme.
What makes it so special however, is the sheer amount of
configurability it has. It has a special setup menu, with three
different screens full of options, from a colour palette, to a button
to allow the 'mod.' prefix on module names to be turned on and off.
These setup options far outstrip the ones presented in the UFO
Noisetracker, and make for a much nicer enviroment to work in.

The PLST editor has had a revamp also. The cosmetic changes appear to
be minor, but there are some, and no doubt some bug fixes too. The
way it handles path names is a little funny, but still very nice.

Protracker's inbuilt sampler has taken a turn for the better, probably
much to the fury of Aegis inc. The control panel is a direct copy of
everyone's favourite sampler, Audiomaster, and as Audiomaster is so
common, many people will find it easy to relate to, and should be able
to work it quite easily.

The Disk Op menu has changed once again, and it is presented much like
the one in the UFO Noisetracker. It is very complete, and I have
found no bugs as yet. Using the setup options, you can set it to auto
dir, or show only mod files, dirs etc. It has a nice touch of colour
in parts too, which makes for a change.

As mentioned in the UFO Noisetracker section, the UFO NT has 2 scopes
instead of a spectrum analyzer. The Protracker has 4 scopes, one for
each channel. Not really much more use at all, but it looks nice and
gives a professional feel to it all.

Out of all the trackers, this is most likely to be the closest to a
professional music program. The configurability along with the minor
editing features, and general improvements which are too numerous to
list here, make it a polished program. It also has decent
documentation, even so far as to describe the file format for modules.
This coupled with an online help function, make it hard to go wrong.
This is most likely going to be the most popular tracker, simply
because of the amount of features it boasts. Future versions will no
doubt be bug fixes, and other minor additions. At the moment, the
MIDI options are there, but incomplete, or so it says in the docs. As
I have no MIDI setup, I cannot comment.

OS 2.0 wise, this tracker should run fine. The authors say that it
will run under OS 2.0 and the tests I ran confirmed that, although
they were not very extensive.

-------------------------------------------

That is all of the actual trackers. The programs listed below, are
miscellaneous extras, that are either song/mod players, or some
various utils for thr tracker series.


RIPPERS
-------
Seeing as mods can be replayed in games and demos, by use of a replay
routine, they obviously have to be in memory. If you load up a
game/demo that has a soundtrack that you like the sound of, the
chances are that you can rip the mod file out of memory, save it to
disk, and then include it in your own music collection, as either a
song or module. This is done by using rippers. These programs hunt
through memory, looking for mod files, left in the memory after a game
or demo has been loaded. If the ripper finds a mod file, it stops
hunting, and says it has found something. The user then has several
options, including playing the module (to check it is the right one,
and that it has ripped properly), saving the module (to disk, sothat
it can be loaded into a tracker) or continuing the search (if the
found module is not the one you want). Note that many mods WON'T rip,
and if that is the case, it's tough luck, unless you want to do some
serious hunting through tracks on the disk. Once the mod has been
ripped, it is then up to you do do with it as you please. Below is a
brief synopsis of some of the better rippers :

- Noisehunter by Anarchy
A good ripper, probably one of the best, detects packed mods too,
and finds everything, whether it is playable or not.

- Ripmon by United Forces
Another good ripper, but it has failed me a couple of times, and
when I have gone through with Noisehunter afterwards I found some
mods that Ripmon failed to detect. Still very good though.

- Fraxion Ripper by Fraxion
An old ripper, but still one of the better ones. It finds an awful
lot of mods, although not as much as Noisehunter and Ripmon. It
has the advantage of being MUCH faster than either of the previous
two, although the speed is probably why it doesn't rip as well as
the others. It has the bonus of being able to rip Future Composer
(see below) mods as well.


NOISEPLAYER
-----------
Flynn of Tristar, and Jolyon Ralph have both done versions of this,
Jolyon's being the latest. However, due to a disk error, Jolyon's
version (v3.5) was corrupt, and so I have been unable to test it.
Flynn's version (v3.0) is one of the best mod/song players that I have
come across. As well as being able to play PowerPacked mods, it can
play a multitude of different formats, including Future Composer,
TFMX, and JamCracker, as well as both 15 and 31 ST/NT mods. It has an
option where it uses the Req.library as a file requester to load the
mod. This is handy as it saves a long command line, and means that
another mod can be loaded while the next is playing. Probably the
best mod player at the moment.

NOTE! that Jolyon's verison is most likely to be better, as it is
newer, but as I don't have it I cannot tell.


INTUITRACKER
------------
Intuitracker is a very old program, being written about 2 years ago.
It is, however, perhaps the most useful mod player yet. It is a
multitasking player, like Noiseplayer, but it acts as a CD player,
being able to play a selection of modules, in a random order, as
opposed to Noiseplayers only one at a time. eg. say you place your
favourite 5 mods in a dir called 'Fav.mods' on your hard drive. The
Intuitracker can now be programmed to load and play them in a random
order, in the background, while you carry on writing your text file,
or drawing your masterpiece, or some other DOS task. Intuitracker
does al this in the background, and carries on as if nothing has
happened. all you do is listen to the music.

I do not know if Intuitracker will work under OS 2.0, but as it
multitasks, and seems OS legal, I presume it will.


NOISEPACKER by the Twins of Phenomena
-------------------------------------
Noisepacker is a small program that packs modules down to a smaller
physical size on the disk. The packed mods are NOT playable by any
means other than a special replay routine. The reason this was
developed was to save space in games and demos. There is a similar
function built into the latest Startrekker v1.3.


NOISEEXEC
---------
This program takes a mod file and turns it into an executable file, so
it can be run fromthe cli, without need for a player or tracker. That
is the theory behind it anyway; I have not been able to get it to
work, as it crashes on me all the time. It is an ok program, and a
nice idea, but it seems badly written, especially to crash EVERY time.


FUTURE COMPOSER
---------------
Future composer deserves a mention here, as it was written to replace
the tracker series, but never really made it. It became very popular,
but not quite so that it wiped out all competition. Future Composer
was a synthetic music generating program, that played computer
generated music, using the Amiga's sound chip. This sounds very much
like the sounds produced on the C64's SID chip. The idea was that
because the sounds were basically streams of data beng fed into the
computer, the mod files saved would be much smaller, thus reducing the
size of demos and games. As an added bonus, the Future Composer had
the ability to use samples as well, just like a normal tracker. The
two together in one program sounded like an unbeatable combination.

The main trouble with FC was that it was complex. Very complex. To
make a sound, the musician had to create a waveform, and then alter it
to produce the desired sound. Problems arise when trying to create a
nice smooth waveform, as it is very hard to get it right. Although
there was a lot of documentation included, it was not very clear and
made for difficult reading. The user had many sets of numbers to
manipulate, and producing anything of great value was difficult.

Today, there are many ways of producing chip music sounds, the most
common being to use cut down samples on one of the trackers and loop
them to produce some rather ugly beeping noises, which can then be
altered in various ways by the trackers tuning commands. Future
Composer was a nic idea, and it is still used today, being reasonably
popular. However, because of it's being so difficult to come to grips
with, it is not as popular as the trackers. For something different,
and for a challenge, it is well worth a look.

Note that it is a hardware based type of program, and as such doesn't
have any MIDI or OS 2.0 support.


TFMX
----
TFMX is a program which many games use as their soundtrack writing
program. I have had little to do with this program, and as such am
unable to comment fully on it. It is said to have eight channel
support, but whether that is true or not I cannot say. If it does, it
does so very well, because the soundtracks that I have heard from it,
sound EXCELLENT eg. Ooops Up, The Power, and Turrican 2, to name a
few. I do not know if it is a commercial program or not, but I am
inclined to think so, the lack of notice it seems to have. It is
reasonably old, but still remains in widespread use among software
companies.

I am in the process of aquiring TFMX and wil endeavour to learn more
about it.


JamCrackerPro
-------------
JamCrackerPro is a hacked version of the original JamCracker, altered
by someone in the same way that the original soundtracker was : to
make it a better program by fixing bugs and including more features.
It can either create synthetic sounds or use samples, much like the
Future Composer did, except that JCP is multitasking, and has an
intuition interface. Because of this interface, I PRESUME it works on
OS 2.0, but I am not sure, as I haven't tested it yet. This is
another program which I have not given a full test yet either, but I
am endeavouring to do so. So far it looks to be a good program, with
an easy to use method of generating sounds. A replay routine has been
included for using mods in games and demos.

------------------------------------------------

Misc Notes
----------
This is just a little bit on the end, where I will add extra bits and
pieces that don't define a catagory of their own.

The Soundtracker family has become so widespread, that even other
computers are standing up and taking notice. The SoundBlaster card on
the IBM for example, has the ability to play ST modules, and from what
I have heard, several IBM games are coming out with ST mods as the
soundtracks. Of course to hear them, you'll have to have a
SoundBlaster card, but I presume that IBM programmers take care of
this sort of thing, as they have to get around the various graphics
cards etc. Although I am not 100% on the SoundBlaster card supporting
ST, I am fairly certain. It has been through word of mouth that I
heard about it anyway. There is another popular IBM sound card,
called the Ad-Lib card (or something like that, I'm an Amiga freak,
how the hell should I know :-) which may also support the ST file
format. Whether it does or not, I make no guesses, I'm just passing
on something that I heard through the grapevine.

As well as the IBM supporting ST mod file format, the Acorn Archimedes
series do too. When I was at High School, we had a room of them, and
by using a special module player, we could play ST mods rather well.
The mod player only worked with the older 16 instrument mod files, and
crashed in a big way when tried with the newer NT mods. This is most
likely to be because of the replay routine in the player. The only
conceivable problem with playing mods on and Archimedes, is to
actually get them on to disk. Due to Acorn being wonderfully
non-standard, a serial link had to be ruled out. Whether the
Archimedes now has a standard serial port, I do not know. The way in
which we transferred the files was via IBM disks, by using Dos-2-Dos
on the Amiga, and the equivalent on the Archimedes. As the Archimedes
has 8 channel sound, it copes very well with the mods, and they sound
excellent. Now if someone would just write a routine to include
Startrekker 8 voice mods, they might sound OK on the Archimedes. I do
not know if any Archimedes games bother with using ST mods for their
soundtracks or not. I can not see why they would bother myself, as
all that is neeed is a decent tracker equivalent on the Archimedes,
and it would totally blow the Amiga out of the running. If anyone
wishes to give me an Archimedes for a while and pay me lots of cash,
I'll do my best to write one :-)

The Atari ST also has the capabilities to play ST mods. Yes, the old
Atari ST, the machine that every Amiga owner loves to bash, can play
the Amiga's wonderful sound files. How I do not know, but I suspect
it to be via a player program, similar to the Archimedes. Again, I do
not know if the Atari uses ST mods in it's games, but it is quite a
plausible idea. It all depends on how the machine actually plays
them, and how much processor time it takes. Atari programmers, feel
free to comment, as I'm actually quite curious now i think about it.

END
---
If there is anything that you think should be included or corrected
here, then please contact me at the following :

Voo...@kcbbs.gen.nz Voodoo Phone : +64 9 6230269
2/5 Woodford Rd Ask for Voodoo
Auckland 3
New Zealand

Last Note:
----------
PLEASE SPREAD THIS FILE! It's all very well me writing this, but if
no-one is going to get any use from it, or if it's wrong, it's
basically useless. So please up this or transfer this all over the
place. Thanks!

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