What are Trackers good for ?

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MrHope
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What are Trackers good for ?

Post by MrHope » Wed Nov 22, 2006 10:05 pm

I've been reading a bit about Trackers and have tried out a few. But i'm having trouble understanding them. They just aren't intuitive to me. Looks like ReNoise is powerful, but I don't know if I could remember all those commands.

* What are Trackers good for ?
* How long does it take to learn a Tracker ?
* What are Trackers bad at ?
* Which is the best free Tracker ?

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Post by psiapir » Wed Nov 22, 2006 10:38 pm

heh, I'm not entirely sure if we speak the same tracker language.. Are you thinking of the good ole vintage mod-trackers!? If so, Fasttracker 2.06, Impulse Tracker or ModPlugTracker... I loved trackers to such an insane extent that I've actually seriously started considering going back to utilising them... Today's heyday stuff doesn't appeal to me at all... looks too Windows... And too many menus all over the screen! :D
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Post by elmosexwhistle » Thu Nov 23, 2006 2:04 am

- trackers are good for quickly loading in some samples and sequencing them

- learning how to place notes shouldnt take too long but many rely on hexadecimal codes to change things like volume/tempo/arp notes and thats what'll take time to learn

it's just another way of sequencing i guess, but it's vertically based instead of horizontal x

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Post by MrHope » Fri Nov 24, 2006 8:19 pm

elmosexwhistle wrote:- trackers are good for quickly loading in some samples and sequencing them

- learning how to place notes shouldnt take too long but many rely on hexadecimal codes to change things like volume/tempo/arp notes and thats what'll take time to learn

it's just another way of sequencing i guess, but it's vertically based instead of horizontal x
Which Tracker do you use and what do you use it for ?

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Post by Anaki_Muon » Fri Nov 24, 2006 8:31 pm

I would suggest you give Psycle a shot, as that is what I use. It's got online, pictorial tutorials as well, and a very friendly message board where you can ask for help. Personally I have used it to compose entire songs, but like many people sometimes I'll use it just for percussion- as a tracker can really change the way you do percussion! Seriously though, try composing a few entire tracks just to get a feel for what it can really do.
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Post by elmosexwhistle » Fri Nov 24, 2006 9:30 pm

i use octamed soundstudio on my amiga 4000 to track sometimes, it's good for doing squarepusher type glitchcore, and old school style house...i used to midi sequence on it, it can certainly pull off most of the cc's pretty easily...but as i said, you need to learn the hex codes...x

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Post by polardark » Fri Nov 24, 2006 10:22 pm

I mostly use Renoise these days, and i still find myself learning something new every day. Renoise is by far the most flexible and it has pretty decent MIDI support as well as support for other modern features that exist in most other modern computer sequencers today. It doesn't take long to learn how to use a tracker and reap some of the benefits. To master one might take quite a few years. You learn the effect commands pretty quickly once you use them a lot

One of the good things about a tracker is that it doesn't require you to use a mouse much. Even not at all, if you bother to learn all the keyboard shortcuts. This means that your editing can become very quick.

Making music with a tracker forces you into a different mindset. It gives you limitations and a set of very clear options at your disposal. Part of the whole thing is being forced to think: "Okay, i know how i play this on a piano. Now how the heck can i do this in a tracker??".

Trackers are inherently c**p at recording and editing performances via MIDI. I don't care what people say. It's simply not possible to do in a sensible manner in a tracker. You compose in a tracker and that's it. You absolutely need a Cubase-style piano roll to record and edit performances.

The best free tracker.. depends on what you want to use it for. In my opinion, the best free tracker if you want to do classic sample-based tracking is either noisetracker for Amiga computers, or something like Skale Tracker version 0.76w for windows. Or.. naturally Fast Tracker 2 if you have a computer that runs MS-DOS and has a compatible sound card.

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Post by MrHope » Fri Nov 24, 2006 11:29 pm

Thanks for responding to my questions.

I'm going to try out ReNoise and Skale. I already have ModPlugTracker. The sad thing is, so far, every time i try to learn how to use them, i don't get any sound at all. I can't seem to figure out how to load up sounds and get going. I have used MODIX successfully (a MIDI Tracker). Unfortunately, using the computer keyboard to add notes really kills my vibe and MODIX can't play .WAV files.

It seems like Trackers are cool for percussion and that's what I'd like to use one for if I ever figure one out. It kind of gets me down because I know how to use just about every other kind of audio program on the planet. But, it seems like Trackers make me instantly retarded. (Maybe I'll just try to max out TunaFish's capabilities instead.)

I will let you guys know how it goes if I ever figure anything out.
Last edited by MrHope on Sat Nov 25, 2006 2:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by psiapir » Fri Nov 24, 2006 11:42 pm

It apparently sounds a bit odd when one says it is a tracker what makes him feel retarded! Years ago it took me some time to learn and discover the Fasttracker...Now, for me at least, trackers appear just a sentimental reminiscence of the teenage years... and yet being the most influencial and musically most fruitful part of my life..It's been a long time since I stopped using them.. to my own demise! Trackers are indeed great for percs and basslines... I even made a metal-like track with guitar leads innit! :S Try out ModPlug Tracker.... arguably the most advanced, featuring some minor effects-processor, quite user-friendly (compared to the older stuff) and well founded in MS Shitdowns (as opposed to the legendary FastTracker..again).
Merry...err... tracking! :D
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Post by CS_TBL » Sat Nov 25, 2006 12:39 am

I use a tracker for my clients. I've been using Impulse Tracker from, say, '97 - early '06, now I'm using reViSiT, a VSTi that looks/behaves like Impulse Tracker. While it has its own samplelist/instrumentlist, I only use the instrumentlist to send out midi signals. The instruments I use are pure VST's.

My personal forte is orchestral, or otherwise large arrangements. It all sounds professional, no single drop o' freak'ish/scene'ish .MOD legacy in it. Even the biggest tracker-hater wouldn't be able to identify my tracks from tracks made by non-trackers. :P From '97 to '01 I studied musictechnology and did all of it with the olde Impulse Tracker 2, that includes TV leaders 'n movies. I got comments from teachers and other students about me being non-compatible with the world. Yet they stopped moaning about it as soon as they heard my results, which were years ahead of others, doing their crappy stuff with soundcanvii and other dull ROMplers. (come to think of it, most students didn't have a sampler, IT2 does nothing but playing samples, so I was never tight to dull sounds!) Some of the larger tunes I made with IT2 were based on multiple IT2 files summed together so I could mix/edit them in a multitracker. (I never release IT files, I only release wav/mp3/ogg, e.g. complete mixed products)
I think the record (summed IT projects) must 've been 8 .IT files, each having various samples, mostly above 90. That's the thing with IT2: you have only 99 samples, and that's it. When a harp eats up 26 samples then you're over 25% already. With today's sample libraries 99 samples is just ridiculous.

Anyway, as far as I can see things: tracking is analogue to sheet music, when it comes to composing/arranging. All these details like hex numbers are just syntax issues, the real core of tracking is thinking about the location of events, just as you would do with sheet music. This is a fundamental difference with recording in cubase-bars, using an external MIDI controller like a keyboard.

The player thinks:
A
AB
ABC
ABCD
ABCDE
ABCDEF
ABCDEFG
ABCDEFGH

The tracker thinks:
A
B
A C
ABC
ABCABCGG
ABCABGCC
AB EABC
ABCDEFGH

A bit exagerated perhaps, it's just to point out that the player thinks as a group of notes "in one go", the tracker just thinks of specific locations and tries notes here and there. That's the real difference.
I could as well (because I think this 'non-linear') use a score application like Finale, etc. But I truly dislike mouse interfaces. There's *nothing* with the speed of tracking, *nothing*. And since 'music' is a mere recording of ideas, it's essential to capture these ideas as fast as possible. I truly dislike it when I have an idea (my ideas always come orchestrated) but I need 15 minutes to realise it, just because the software requires dozens of menus and hundreds of mousemovements and -clicks. In a tracker this is all easy: a number of efficient blockcopies, blocktransposes etc.
Oh sure, you can use the pianoroll of cubase and hit gridsquares yourself, or use a score editor, or use whatever there is these days.. but you'll find yourself using those menus, slow or no hotkeys and poor navigation.

The painful truth: midi-tools like cubase etc. etc. were made to fit the generic GUIs we have, be it MacOS, Windows, Atari, etc. All these GUI systems define rules ppl 'need to' follow. These GUIs are made/invented for office tools, text editing, spreadsheets, databases, DTP etc.

Trackers have their own optimized interface, where a PC keyboard is treated as a real instrument and mice aren't around. (ps, that's why I always want classic keyboard models, not those recent scams where the pgup/dn/home/end/ins/del-island is completely fubar, not only considering its design, but also considering its place on the keyboard. ppl, do we really need sleep-, wakeup-keys? how often do we use those??)

</weekly_promotional_tracker_rant>
Last edited by CS_TBL on Sat Nov 25, 2006 12:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by CS_TBL » Sat Nov 25, 2006 12:49 am

oh, ok, back to earth. those questions of yours :P


* What are Trackers good for ?

Anything, but its forte is in the more complex and layered tunes, such as orchestral or otherwise intensely layered tunes. The overview of the whole, is great.

* How long does it take to learn a Tracker ?

If you come from a cubase'ish mindset then it might take a while. If you have a score mindset then you only need to learn the new tracking conventioned and such.

* What are Trackers bad at ?

Notes or events that won't fit a fixed grid, tho most of the music *will* fit. Another thing they suck at is availability. As I said: there are no conventional interfaces, so you need to find a tracker from a programmer who knows (1) how to compose (just scrap those trance/dance-only nerds), (2) how to design optimized interfaces. Those people are rare. Most stuff out there is made for dance/trance, made by ppl with a dance/trance mindset. (I'm not against dance/trance btw, I usually listen to Digitally Imported while programming :P But it's like those grooveboxes we see from all kinda brands, most of 'em are *not* suited to real trance, I figure one just needs good all-round synths)

* Which is the best free Tracker ?

it's personal.. I hate the whole fasttracker-arm of evolution, I'm from the Screamtracker/Impulsetracker school, so atm I'm using reViSiT (which is under construction but I've yet done a short movie, some commercials and a TV series with it ^_^)

I'm not sure whether this alpha software stays free btw. Have a go here: http://www.nashnet.co.uk/english/default.asp
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Post by elmosexwhistle » Sat Nov 25, 2006 5:23 am

so own up, who heard my remix of smells like teen spirit, under my then-pseudonym yannis brown?? ( i thought sounding slightly russian would make me appear cooler) :p x

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Post by Thefumigator » Sun Nov 26, 2006 12:29 am

Trackers are good because you can use them on *REALLY* old computers (specially the first ones, that run for DOS for example).

I remember my 386 33Mhz...
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