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Olliepm

Are music trackers obsolete?

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I LOVE tracker music. Ever since I discovered it, I wanted to learn how to use Renoise to an advanced level, but I wondered whether there is any need/point in doing so, seeing as I could probably make the same sounds in my DAW.  It has to be said, though, there IS something about it that is quite special.  Do any modern day developers require use of trackers (perhaps for file size constraints)?

 

For anyone who doesn't know thy trackers, you're missing out!  This YouTube user has re-created the music from Hydrocity Zone Act 2 from Sonic 3, and you cannot tell the difference between it and the original.  He's also made the XRNS file free to download, so you can have closer look at how it was done.  The things some people do in their spare time blows my mind.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C4xy4bf81TM

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There are still lots of people who make their music in trackers.  The first that comes to mind is Venetian Snares who makes his music in Renoise (I think he used to make his stuff in OctaMED)

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I don't think any developers require the use of trackers these days. I have certainly not heard of any, and even mobile devices these days have a lot of memory and storage, even compared to the PCs of the tracker era.

 

But when it comes to creating music, nobody is likely to care what DAW or program you use to make it. As long as you can bounce the end result down to an MP3 at the end, what matters is whether the music is the style they want or not.

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Trackers are not as commonly used as they used to be but there's still some demand for them. Many Wii games used tempo changes - think of the Mario games - where the music's tempo matches the players input. I believe it was the first Mario Galaxy game where it would smoothly change tempo - instead of changing between several bounces with different tempos baked in. 

 

Also the DS often use MIDI-sample-bank methods which is similar to a tracker approach. Rockband/Guitar Hero and the link are other good examples where MIDI data is used in conjunction with streaming audio. But overwhelming, most game projects stream some kind of audio format these days. 

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This is more or less what I had figured.  It's probably not worth learning Renoise then.  Not at this point in time, for me, anyway.  Thanks!

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As a music making tool they aren't obsolete at all. It depends on what kind of interface you prefer. I know composers that only can use pentagrams, some that can only use trackers, some that can only use piano rolls... In the end the final music is all that matters. In the specific case of trackers, it makes it easy to see all instruments at once (which is very handy) and to see when the special effects are applied, although polyphony can be a mess and all notes look the same at first glance (as they're just text).

 

Also yeah, the tempo thing is true, and pretty much anything that requires "modifying" the music on the fly (e.g. enabling or disabling instruments at will based on the current mood of the game). In that case modules (what trackers make) and MIDIs can be very useful when compared to prerendered music since they're much easier to cope with and less prone to have errors, not to mention the smaller size (at the expense of more CPU usage... maybe, decompression of prerendered music may nullify that one). The size part doesn't matter that much these days for computers or consoles (unless you need to keep tons of music all in RAM), on mobile it can matter though if you prefer to keep the download size down (I'd say browser games too but sadly there you can't use this stuff =/).

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As a music making tool they aren't obsolete at all. It depends on what kind of interface you prefer. I know composers that only can use pentagrams, some that can only use trackers, some that can only use piano rolls... In the end the final music is all that matters. In the specific case of trackers, it makes it easy to see all instruments at once (which is very handy) and to see when the special effects are applied, although polyphony can be a mess and all notes look the same at first glance (as they're just text).

 
Trackers also provide a good layered structure: raw samples -> instruments -> end to end effect chains -> main track editor -> sequence and repetition of song pieces.

Unlike most other music authoring software, all these layers are integrated with each other (unlike e.g. a VST sampler requiring concerted usage of an audio editor for samples, a text editor for sfz instrument definitions and its own GUI for playback options) and accessible at all times (e.g. no juggling of rendered and partially mixed audio parts).
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I still use trackers occasionally to get a retro feel to my games and because they are fun to use! They are only obsolete if they stop producing music. P.S. epic tracker music on the youtube link!

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I just posted a topic about my piece for tracker (Renoise) and a live choir. Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=myjJso1dSm0

 

Trackers are definitely NOT obsolete!

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