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Encyclopedia > Tracker
ModPlug Tracker in Fast Tracker 2 colors mode
ModPlug Tracker in Fast Tracker 2 colors mode

Tracker is the generic term for a class of software music sequencers which, in their purest form, allow the user to arrange sound samples stepwise on a timeline across several monophonic channels. A tracker's interface is primarily numeric; notes are entered via the keyboard, while parameters, effects and so forth are entered in hexadecimal. A complete song consists of several small multi-channel patterns chained together via a master list. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (960x728, 40 KB)Modplug Tracker screenshot File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (960x728, 40 KB)Modplug Tracker screenshot File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Look up Generic in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... In the field of electronic music, a sequencer was originally any device that recorded and played back a sequence of control information for an electronic musical instrument. ... In mathematics and computer science, base-16, hexadecimal, or simply hex, is a numeral system with a radix or base of 16, usually written using the symbols 0–9 and A–F or a–f. ...

Contents

How it works

There are several elements common to any tracker program: samples, notes, effects, tracks (or channels), patterns, and orders.


A sample is a small digital sound file of an instrument, voice, or other sound effect. Most trackers allow a part of the sample to be looped, simulating a sustain of a note. To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article may require cleanup. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ...


A note designates the frequency at which the sample is played back. By increasing or decreasing the playback speed of a digital sample, the pitch is raised or lowered, simulating instrumental notes (e.g. C, C#, D, etc.).


An effect is a special function applied to a particular note. These effects are then applied during playback through either hardware or software. Common tracker effects include volume, portamento, vibrato, retrigger, and arpeggio. Portamento is a musical term currently used to mean pitch bending or sliding, and in 16th century polyphonic writing refers to a type of musical ornamentation. ... Vibrato is a musical effect where the pitch or frequency of a note or sound is quickly and repeatedly raised and lowered over a small distance for the duration of that note or sound. ... Retriggering is a tracker technique in which a sample is replayed a set number of times within a certain timeframe. ... Various arpeggi as seen on a staff In music, an arpeggio (plural, arpeggi) is a spread chord played top-to-bottom or vice versa in sheet music, or rather the sounding of the tones of a chord in rapid succession rather than simultaneously. ...


A track (or channel) is a space where one sample is played back at a time. Whereas the original Amiga trackers only provided four tracks, the hardware limit, modern trackers can mix a virtually unlimited number of channels into one sound stream through software mixing. Tracks have a fixed number of "rows" on which notes and effects can be placed (most trackers lay out tracks in a vertical fashion). Tracks typically contain 64 rows and 16 beats, although the beats and tempo can be increased or decreased to the composer's taste.


A basic drum set could thus be arranged by putting a bass drum at rows 0, 4, 8, 12 etc. of one track and putting some hihat at rows 2, 6, 10, 14 etc. of a second track. Of course bass and hats could be interleaved on the same track, if the samples are short enough. If not, the previous sample is usually stopped when the next one begins. Some modern trackers simulate polyphony in a single track by setting the "new note action" of each instrument to cut, continue, fade out, or release, opening new mixing channels as necessary. Polyphony is the property of an electronic musical instrument which describes how many notes it can sound at one time. ... In audio engineering, a fade is a gradual increase or decrease in the volume of a source, such as when a song is gradually reduced to silence at its end (fade-out), or gradually increases from silence at the beginning (fade-in). ... An ADSR envelope is a parameter used in synthesizers, including those that produce sound by subtractive synthesis, to control the sound produced. ...


A pattern is a group of simultaneously played tracks that represents a full section of the song. A pattern is intended to represent an even number of measures of music composition. In musical notation, a bar or measure is a segment of time defined as a given number of beats of a given duration. ...


An order is part of a sequence of patterns which defines the layout of a song. Patterns can be repeated across multiple orders to save tracking time and file space.


There are also some tracker-like programs that utilize tracker-style sequencing schemes, while using real-time sound synthesis instead of samples. Many of these programs are designed for creating music for a particular synthesizer chip such as the OPL chips of the Adlib and SoundBlaster sound cards, or the sound chips of classic home computers. These programs are also often called "trackers" and are listed in this article.


Tracker music is typically stored in so-called module files where the song data and samples are encapsulated in a single file. Several module file formats are supported by popular music player programs such as Winamp or XMMS. Well-known formats include MOD, MED, S3M, XM and IT. Module files (MODs) are a class of file formats used to represent music on a computer. ... Winamp is a multimedia player made by Nullsoft. ... XMMSs default appearance The X Multimedia System (XMMS) is a free audio player very similar to Winamp, that runs on many Unix-like operating systems. ... For other uses, see Mod. ... OctaMED is a popular music tracker for the Commodore Amiga, written by Teijo Kinnunen. ... S3M is the file format used by the popular ScreamTracker 3 PC music tracker. ... XM, standing for extended module, is an audio file type introduced by Tritons Fast Tracker 2. ... Impulse Tracker 2. ...


History

The term tracker derives from Ultimate Soundtracker; the first tracker software. Ultimate Soundtracker was written by Karsten Obarski and released in 1987 by Electronic Arts for the Commodore Amiga. Ultimate Soundtracker was a commercial product, but not much later shareware clones such as NoiseTracker appeared as well. The general concept of step-sequencing samples numerically, as used in trackers, is also found in the Fairlight CMI sampling workstation of the late 1970s. Some early tracker-like programs appeared for the Commodore 64, such as Rock Monitor, but these did not feature sample playback, instead playing notes on the computer's internal synthesizer. The Ultimate Soundtracker, or SoundTracker for short, is considered by most to be the grandfather of all tracker programs. ... Karsten Obarski (born May 11, 1960), handle Obi, is considered a pioneer of the demo scene for the creation of the program Ultimate Soundtracker, the ancestor of all Trackers. ... 1987 (MCMLXXXVII) was a common year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Amiga is the name of a range of home/personal computers using the Motorola 68000 processor family, whose development started in 1982. ... The Fairlight CMI (Computer Musical Instrument) was the first digital sampling synthesizer. ... The Commodore 64 is the best selling single personal computer model of all time. ...


The first computer game to feature tracker music was Amegas (1987), an Arkanoid clone for Amiga. The music, which was composed by Obarski, is generally considered the first MOD music ever made and is well known by fans of "old school" computer music. Arkanoid is an arcade game developed by Taito in 1986. ...


Most early tracker musicians were from the United Kingdom and Scandinavia. This may be attributable to the close relationship of the tracker to the demoscene, which grew rapidly in Scandinavian countries, and the relative affordability in the UK of computers able to run tracker software. Tracker music became something of an underground phenomenon, especially as so much contemporary chart music was then sample-based dance music (a genre relatively simple to produce with step-based sequencing). In fact, several chart-topping 1989/1990-era dance singles strongly foreshadow compositional trends in tracker music which would remain popular for many years to come; in particular, 808 State's "Pacific" and Octave One's "I Believe". Both tracks rely heavily on muted, detuned saw-wave background pads which play four-tone augmented major seventh chords in chord patterns which fit the pentatonic scale; an unsyncopated 4/4 drum beat runs underneath. Though this particular musical arrangement was scarcely heard earlier, an overwhelming number of tracker compositions in following years used the exact same pattern. Scandinavia is a historical and geographical region centered on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. ... The demoscene is a computer art subculture that specializes itself on producing demos, non-interactive audio-visual presentations, which are run real-time on a computer. ... 808 State is also a nickname for Hawaii, derived from its telephone area code. ... A Synth pad is a synthesizer which generates a harmonic background sound used in electronic music pieces. ... A seventh chord is a chord consisting of a triad plus a note forming an interval of a seventh above the chords root. ... In music, a pentatonic scale is a scale with five notes per octave. ... In music, syncopation is the stressing of a normally unstressed beat in a bar or the failure to sound a tone on an accented beat. ... The time signature (also known as meter signature) is a notational device used in Western musical notation to specify how many beats are in each bar and which note value (minim, crotchet, eighth note and so on) constitutes one beat. ...


The popularity of the tracker format may also be attributable to its inclusion of both score data and samples. In the early 90s, the price of wavetable sound cards for personal use was very high, and the expressive capabilities of the cheaper FM-synthesizer sound cards were rather limited. A tracker requires neither of these sound card features. 1990 (MCMXC) was a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Wavetable synthesis is used in digital musical instruments (synthesizers) to produce natural tone-like sounds. ...

Screenshot of ProTracker 2.2A beta for Amiga computers
Screenshot of ProTracker 2.2A beta for Amiga computers

The first trackers supported only four channels of 8-bit PCM samples, a limitation derived from the Amiga's Paula audio chipset. However, since the notes were samples, the limitation was less important than those of synthesizing music chips. [1] For example, a process which became a cliché in early pop-rave chart tunes was to sample chords and play them back on a single channel. Rapid chordal stabs, often of fifths, were the hallmark of Altern-8 and other transient techno phenomena. Later tracker software, most famously OctaMED, allowed for eight or more channels, whilst special hardware could allow for 16-bit playback. Screenshot of the famous ProTracker music tracking program on Amiga. ... Pulse-code modulation (PCM) is a digital representation of an analog signal where the magnitude of the signal is sampled regularly at uniform intervals, then quantized to a series of symbols in a digital (usually binary) code. ... A sample refers to a value or set of values at a point in time and/or space. ... The Original Chip Set (OCS) was a chipset used in the earliest Commodore Amiga computers. ... Altern-8 is an early 1990s rave group. ... Techno is a form of electronic dance music that became prominent in Detroit, Michigan during the mid-1980s with influences from electro, New Wave, Funk and futuristic fiction themes that were prevalent and relative to modern culture during the end of the Cold War in industrial America at that time. ... OctaMED is a popular music tracker for the Commodore Amiga, written by Teijo Kinnunen. ...


Over time, 'tracker music' became something of a term of derision for stereotypically ravey, computer-game-style pop tunes, whilst the difficulty involved in adding 'swing' to a mechanistic sequencing style resulted in much 4/4 music based around strict four-bar sections, often using similar samples. One tracker trying to address these issues is Radium; however, it is debatable whether Radium itself qualifies as a tracker at all. [1] This article does not cite its references or sources. ...


PC

ProTracker 5 alpha for PC.
ProTracker 5 alpha for PC.

Over the 1990s, tracker musicians gravitated to the PC. Although the IBM and compatibles initially lacked the hardware sound processing capabilities of the Amiga, the advent of the Sound Blaster line from Creative, PC audio slowly began to approach CD Quality (44.1kHz/16-bit/Stereo) with the release of the SoundBlaster 16. Image File history File links Pt5. ... This article is 150 kilobytes or more in size. ... The Sound Blaster family of sound cards was for many years the de facto standard for audio on the IBM PC compatible system platform, before PC audio became commoditized, and backward-compatibility became less of a feature. ... Creative Technology Limited (SGX: C76, NASDAQ: CREAF) is a listed manufacturer of computer multimedia products based in Singapore where the firm was initially founded by Sim Wong Hoo (born 1955) on July 1, 1981. ...


Another soundcard popular on the PC tracker scene was the Gravis Ultrasound, which continued the hardware mixing tradition, with 32 internal channels and onboard memory for sample storage. For a time, it offered unparalleled sound quality and became the choice of discerning tracker musicians. Understanding that the support of the tracker/demo-scene would benefit sales, Gravis gave away some 6000 GUS cards to participants. Coupled with excellent developer documentation, this gesture quickly prompted the GUS to become an integral component of many tracking programs and demos. Inevitably, the balance was largely redressed with the introduction of the Sound Blaster AWE32 and its successors, which also featured on-board RAM and wavetable mixing. The GF1 chip Gravis Ultrasound or GUS is a sound card for the IBM PC compatible system platform, made by Canadian-based Advanced Gravis Computer Technology Ltd. ... The demoscene is a computer art subculture that specializes itself on producing demos, non-interactive audio-visual presentations, which are run real-time on a computer. ... Sound Blaster AWE32 is an ISA sound card from Creative Technology. ...


The responsibility for audio mixing passed from hardware to software (the main CPU), which gradually enabled the use of more and more channels. From the typical 4 MOD channels of the Amiga, the limit had moved to 8 with Amiga OctaMED, 16 with ScreamTracker 3 on the PC, then 32 with Fast Tracker 2 and on to 64 with Impulse Tracker 2. Audio mixing is used in sound recording, audio editing and sound systems to balance the relative volume and frequency content of a number of sound sources. ... CPU can stand for: in computing: Central processing unit in journalism: Commonwealth Press Union in law enforcement: Crime prevention unit in software: Critical patch update, a type of software patch distributed by Oracle Corporation in Macleans College is often known as Ash Lim. ... OctaMED is a popular music tracker for the Commodore Amiga, written by Teijo Kinnunen. ... ScreamTracker is a versatile multi-track digital sequencer created by members of Finlands Future Crew (FC), legendary in the PC demo scene. ... Fasttracker 2 Fast Tracker, specifically Fast Tracker 2 (FT2), is a software product that was one of the most widely used trackers in the world. ... Impulse Tracker 2. ...


As such, hardware mixing did not last. As processors got faster and acquired special multimedia processing abilities (e.g. MMX) and companies began to push Hardware Abstraction Layers, like DirectX, the AWE and GUS range became obsolete. DirectX, WDM and, now more commonly, ASIO, deliver high-quality sampled audio irrespective of hardware brand. MMX is a SIMD instruction set designed by Intel, introduced in 1997 in their Pentium MMX microprocessors. ... A hardware abstraction layer (HAL) is an abstraction layer between the physical hardware of a computer and the software that runs on that computer. ... DirectX is a collection of APIs for handling tasks related to multimedia, especially game programming, on Microsoft platforms. ... WDM is a TLA with several Common meanings: Water demand management Wavelength division multiplexing West Des Moines, Iowa Western Development Museum of Saskatchewan Windows Driver Model wdm, the WINGs Display Manager Women in Direct Marketing World Development Movement WDM could also be the initials of: Warith Deen Muhammad or Wallace... ASIO is an acronym for: The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Audio stream input output, a protocol for low-latency digital audio specified by Steinberg See also Asio (disambiguation) This page about a 4-letter acronym or initialism is a disambiguation page—a list of articles associated with the same title. ...


Current state

Tracker music lives today. It can be found in modern computer games such as the Unreal series and Deus Ex, as well as a considerable number of indie games. However, the easy availability of software samplers/synthesizers and sequencers, and the advent of the MP3 and later the Ogg Vorbis format has caused most professional musicians to adopt other music software. Nonetheless, tracker software continues to develop (as of 2007). The original Amiga tracker series (Sound/Noise/Pro Tracker/OctaMED) continues on the PC with ProTracker version 5, having resumed development in 2004. Buzz, ModPlug Tracker, MadTracker, Renoise, reViSiT, Skale, CheeseTracker, BeRoTracker, and others offer features undreamed-of back in the day (improved signal-to-noise ratios, automation, VST support, internal DSPs and multi-effects, multi I/O cards support etc.). Tracker files have also become popular in the Game Boy Advance community; unlike the original Game Boy, the Game Boy Advance has the processing power to support tracker music, taking up little space compared to MP3s or other forms of audio. A computer game is a game composed of a computer-controlled virtual universe that players interact with in order to achieve a defined goal or set of goals. ... The Unreal series is a computer game franchise that began with the original Unreal, a single-player first-person shooter computer game which was published on May 30, 1998 by Epic Megagames, now known as Epic Games. ... This article is about an interactive computer and video game. ... Indie games are video games that are created independently of the financial backing of a large publishing company. ... MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3, more commonly referred to as MP3, is a popular digital audio encoding and lossy compression format and algorithm, designed to greatly reduce the amount of data required to represent audio, yet still sound like a faithful reproduction of the original uncompressed audio to most listeners. ... This article is about the audio compression codec. ... 2007 is a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar. ... MOD is a computer file format used to represent music, and was the first module file format. ... This article needs cleanup. ... Modplug Tracker ModPlug Tracker is a tracker for Windows developed by Olivier Lapicque. ... Madtracker screenshot MadTracker is a tracker software for Microsoft Windows. ... Renoise is a contemporary software package based upon the heritage and development of tracker software. ... ReViSiT is a Impulse_Tracker clone, developed by Chris Nash. ... Skale Tracker is a tracker software created and coded by baktery with graphics-support from Awesome. ... CheeseTracker is an Impulse Tracker clone created by Juan Linietsky (who is also known as Reduz). ... Impulse Tracker 2. ... Virtual Studio Technology and its acronym VST refer to an interface standard for connecting audio synthesizer and effect plugins to audio editors and hard-disk recording systems. ... Digital signal processing (DSP) is the study of signals in a digital representation and the processing methods of these signals. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... For the entire Game Boy series of handheld consoles, see Game Boy line. ...


The traditional tracker stigma of unwieldy, complicated programs (aimed at a predominantly technologically-minded audience) is slowly being cast off, as programs become more accessible and user friendly. As such, tracking has recently enjoyed a mild resurgence as people begin to appreciate the importance of laying down music as quickly as possible - the musical equivalent of touch typing. Indeed, a research project is currently studying Human-Computer Interaction in Music, and will investigate how methods like tracking might contain lessons regarding the process of music sequencing. [citation needed] This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Human–computer interaction (HCI) or, alternatively, computer–human interaction (symbolized as Χ χ Chi, the 22nd letter of the Greek alphabet) is the study of interaction between people (users) and computers. ...


See also

This is a list of music composition programs considered to be trackers, sorted by computer platform. ... Outrun (1986) is an arcade game with a memorable soundtrack. ... Module files (MODs) are a class of file formats used to represent music on a computer. ... // Concept A modular software music studio consists of a plugin architecture that allows the audio to be routed from one plugin to another in many ways, similar to how cables carry an audio signal between physical pieces of hardware. ...

External links


  Results from FactBites:
 
Tracker - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1633 words)
Tracker is the generic term for a class of software music sequencers which, in their purest form, allow the user to arrange sound samples stepwise on a timeline across several monophonic channels.
Tracker music is typically stored in so-called module files where the song data and samples are encapsulated in a single file.
This may be attributable to the close relationship of the tracker to the demoscene, which grew rapidly in Scandinavian countries, and the relative affordability in the UK of computers able to run tracker software.
2004 Chevrolet Tracker - Ratings & Reviews - Dan Jedlicka - MSN Autos (727 words)
The 155-horsepower V6 is from the Suzuki Vitara because the Tracker is nearly identical to that vehicle, except for such things as badges, grilles and minor trim.
The Tracker can be had with rear-wheel drive or an above-average 4-wheel-drive system that can be shifted on the fly but isn't for use on dry roads.
Tracker list prices range from $15,435 for the rear-drive convertible with the manual transmission to $21,430 for the top-line V6 hardtop.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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