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Olliepm

Question for Veterans Who Composed with Trackers

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I'm doing some referencing for a university project, and I wondered if anyone here could help me find a particular reference.

 

I would like to state the fact that trackers were involved in composing music for game consoles in the 80's-90's, however I don't have any real resources to back this (and further points) up.  I would really appreciate some kind of academic journal or article that gives an overview of how music was composed for Sega Megadrive games in particular (and why), because my project relates to FM synthesis and I plan on discussing the FM chip used by the Megadrive.

 My project is mainly about polyphony and I would like to remark upon the fact that tracker music usually consisted of monophonic melody lines that when played together may appear to be polyphonic.  This is the exact point I need some reference material for. I only 'know' this currently because I have acquired Renoise tracker files for Sonic music that have been fan made, and I can only assume...

So yeah... a history of tracker music for Sega Megadrive anyone?!  





 

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The early tracker software tended to have one instrument channel for each output channel, which would have been 6 for the Megadrive. I'm not entirely sure what your exact definitions of monophony and polyphony are here, because it seems self-evident that you could play 3 notes on 3 channels and make it sound like a chord from one instrument, just like I can hit 2 drums at once and get 2 sounds out of 1 drum kit simultaneously. Tricks like deciding which instruments to drop out when chords were needed, or using fast arpeggios on one channel to fake a chord sound, was just an obvious part of the composition process.

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My project is mainly about polyphony and I would like to remark upon the fact that tracker music usually consisted of monophonic melody lines that when played together may appear to be polyphonic.  This is the exact point I need some reference material for. I only 'know' this currently because I have acquired Renoise tracker files for Sonic music that have been fan made, and I can only assume...

 

Mod based files (created by Trackers) were used for Atari ST and Amiga games.

 

They were also used in early PC games when space was tight.

 

See example: 

 

Something that you might find interesting if discussing polyphony is:

 

1. The concept of virtual polyphony vs real polyphony:

 

In general midi you are restricted by real polyphony. 1 note, 1 midi instrument sound.

 

In a mod, you are still restricted 1 note, 1 sound. However within that sound may be more complex sounds - such as guitar chords, drum tracks or layered (kick + hat) , choir riffs and even multi-instruments layered into a single note. Used to use these tricks to create more than 4 channel sounds on old .mod files.

 

 

2 . Simulated polyphony:

a. Fast arpeggio notes as in in chip music give the illusion of chords and trick the ear into hearing more polyphony than there actually is.

b. Interspersed notes in the channel - this technique we used to use to make it sound like a note that was cut off by another sample playing was continuing, echoing or reverb but placing the samples between other shorter samples.

 

That being said - trackers are just tools - I've used trackers to create midi for mobile phone games, I've used trackers also to create rendered music for games.

 

Something that you might find interesting is the concept of virtual polyphony vs real polyphony.

Edited by GroovyOne

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If you're looking for an 'academic' reference, I presented a paper on creating arcade music (which used the same technology as the Sega Genesis/Megadrive) at the International Computer Music Conference back in 1989..

 

http://quod.lib.umich.edu/i/icmc/bbp2372.1989.066/1/--designing-sound-tracks-for-coin-op-games-or-computer-music?page=root;size=150;view=image

 

Game audio researcher Dr. Karen Collins has also published a lot of scholarly articles on a lot of aspects of game music.

 

I also did some asking around from some fellow 'old school' game composers-non that I talked to used "Trackers" for Genesis/Megadrive music. So although we used systems that were "like trackers" in some ways, we didn't use actual trackers.

Hope that all helps!

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Those were rarely (ever?) used in old console games

 

Tracker music have found it's place on consoles in the late nineties and later. Especially on consoles with very limited capabilities like GB, GBA, NDS and so on. For example Paragon 5 tracker was dedicated to create music playable on Gameboy console:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oiy5dEgV9-s 

 

 

Later more tools developed, including Echo Sound Engine for Sega Mega Drive: http://segaretro.org/Echo

 

But at the times it would be to much hassle for consoles to play multichannel tracker files. I can't recall such use back then. I believe there were non or not significant amount of trackers usage.

Edited by grogon

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