Tracker music, how indie artists got into early electronic/synth music without a studio

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Spook of the lost
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Tracker music, how indie artists got into early electronic/synth music without a studio

Post by Spook of the lost »

So I wasn't sure if this went into tech nostalgia or music but since it's about a genre of music I figured this would be a better place.

Tracker music... ok so if you've ever heard of remixers or mod files, or even just the name amiga you probably recognize the term.

basically, in the 8 to 16 bit eras of computing there was a whole underground group who used software called trackers and samplers to take sound samples and remix them into new music.

in fact this is still done somewhat today though it's through mp3 format instead of mod format these days.

there's really great examples out there of tracker music and it's easy enough to find but to me the most interesting part of it was that for a brief moment, a flash in the pan so to speak, people could go to a record/cd shop, buy instrumental tracks (something you can't actually do easily these days), play those into a sampler and pick out individual instruments and bits from a song to feed into a tracker which could change pitch, tempo, etc, and make your own music.

Why is this important you may ask?
well... stuff like fruity loops, audacity, modern electronic music in general, a lot of these people got their start in that era or were inspired by it.

what we take for granted these days, having an entire music studio on your computer, back then was cutting edge, a novelty, and the only way to do so unless you wanted to spend thousands building your own studio or rent time in one which was both difficult and expensive since they were mainly controlled by record companies.

Furthermore, if you were into the Cracktro or demo scene, a lot of the music used on demo scene stuff was made using trackers like this which is kinda cool considering what came out of it, sorta like hackers meet music, a melting pot of computers, DIY, and Music with a focus on having fun and being super creative.

I'm going to post a couple example songs from that era, but here's my question, does anyone listen to or have heard or read about Tracker/Sampler music?

ex1 - Jogier: Nearly there


ex2 - Virt: Nightfall over the city

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Re: Tracker music, how indie artists got into early electronic/synth music without a studio

Post by Juneberry »

I think it fits fine here in media. I can see why it'd fit in tech nostalgia too though. Honestly, even as an admin, I'm often not sure where to put certain topics... So I'm just gonna leave this here, because I think it can still be reflected in today's music scene too, if you look hard enough.

When I was young, I was already very into anime music... But my favorite sites that had anime music actually had electronic versions of the music that sounded fairly different than the original songs as I heard them in the anime themselves. After listening to your samples, there was a familiar air to them that the midis I used to play had. At the very least, while likely not exactly the same, the similarities were there.

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Re: Tracker music, how indie artists got into early electronic/synth music without a studio

Post by Spook of the lost »

@Juneberry It's funny you say that, Midi files and Mod files were around at the same time, they even work similarly, being data files that reference audio data (sound fonts and instruments in the case of midi, samples in the case of mod files).

unfortunately neither are very well supported on modern devices, windows dropped midi playback almost entirely with windows 8, mac hasn't had it for a while, had to hack it back in.
mod files... well they play in VLC I guess? or with a tracker that can play them.
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Re: Tracker music, how indie artists got into early electronic/synth music without a studio

Post by slooroo »

This is sorta related to the thread so I'll mention it. If you ever listen to early black metal like Burzum people will always talk about the metal influences that came before it. While it's true they were influenced by metal especially in the case of Burzum but also with other bands they were also highly influenced by "white label" techno clubs that were in Norway at the time. White label techno were records that had a song or two on it but no information on the creator or name of the track. Sometimes these tracks were made by famous musicians and sometimes by total nobodies but what made this interesting is the music's success or failure would be tested in clubs where DJs would play the records and gauge audience reaction to the tracks. Black metal guys like Varg Vikernes noted they were really fond of these clubs and the droning, repetitive sound that came from techno influenced the droning, repetitive sound in classic albums like Burzum's Filosofem. Black metal of the time was pretty reactionary and wanted to get away from all traditional metal ideas and were seeking new ideas for music through techno, dance, krautrock, and other genres.

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Re: Tracker music, how indie artists got into early electronic/synth music without a studio

Post by Ravenfreak »

I love the Amiga's sound chip! I think it's amazing to hear music from trackers, because there's limitations but the artists usually make some great sounding tracks with those limitations. Midi files can be played in Foobar 2000, and I think there's a plugin to play midis in VLC as well btw. There's one song in particular that really stands out to me in this list of amiga tracks, F*cking TV Network which plays at around 16:10. The guy who made the track even commented on the video and thanked me and the guy who uploaded it since it brought him back some memories. xD
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Re: Tracker music, how indie artists got into early electronic/synth music without a studio

Post by Spook of the lost »

@Ravenfreak lol, it sorta sounds like a villain/anti-hero backing track or maybe one for a boss fight lol.
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Re: Tracker music, how indie artists got into early electronic/synth music without a studio

Post by Ravenfreak »

It's actually the guitar riff from Metallica's "Seek and Destroy" believe it or not! xD It would definitely fit a boss fight, in a shoot em up on the Amiga IMO! BTW, synth music is probably my favorite genre of music currently, and I've been into Amiga tracker soundtracks since 2013 so seeing this topic made me happy. :)
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Re: Tracker music, how indie artists got into early electronic/synth music without a studio

Post by Spook of the lost »

@Ravenfreak oh yeah? you know there are DJ's who do tracker music and bring old amiga's as their equipment.

it's great stuff really because they can host dance parties without the normal copywrite overhead and stuff.
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