Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tracker Music

John Marine | 3/10/2010 07:12:00 PM | | |
If you don't have a synthesizer, tracker music may be your best way to make your own electronica. Tracker music is based purely on samples. It takes a nice vision and a creative use of those samples to build unique songs. There are a lot of people who think that tracker music isn't all that good. To me, tracker music is a good way of going under the radar making your own awesome music. You can make almost any kind of music with tracker software, but the most common kind of music is electronica. I even thought about doing hip-hop music with tracker software. Tracker music is like MIDI music, only that you have SO much more control over what kind of music you come up with.

I'll talk a little more on this kind of music and even offer some resources to you all if you're interested in tracker music. I'll mostly discuss tracker music, but this also applies to module music as well.

--- My Tracker Music Experience ---
The first tracker program that I ever had was ScreamTracker for DOS back in 1997 or 1998. I was introduced to tracker music when I played the 3D Realms game, Death Rally. All ten songs in the game were made with great sound samples. There are even some sub-songs in them. More like bonus tracker songs within tracker songs. Unfortunately, I've never had much success making my own tracker music. So I've never made my own music. I've mostly used ScreamTracker to look at how certain tracker and module songs were made. My brother got a new and more powerful PC back in 2000. I forgot the name of the program, but there was another program I had used to play back tracker music. I even used it to listen to music from the very first Unreal Tournament. The music from UT was in UTX format. I've had plenty of good times playing that game and listening to the music from Unreal Tournament.

Around 2000 or 2001, I bought a program called Music Studio 6. This was a program where I wanted to make better music with MIDI and maybe even some tracker songs. Despite my best efforts, I didn't make any real music. It was just another program that collected dust (metaphorically speaking) on my former computer's hard drive.

It wasn't until some time last year that I got back into tracker music and had more motivation to make tracker music. The program I've been using recently is MadTracker. I'm using the free version which gives you a number of samples to make a semi-decent song. You're only able to save in MIDI format or OGG format, and whatever music you produce will have the name of "Unregistered" in the song title and in the artist description. I'm not obligated to talk loopholes, but I realized that I have , which files can be imported or exported in OGG format. However, it wasn't until I thought about that program- Music Studio 6. I found a LOT of sound samples I could use for my tracker music. With newfound confidence, I've started using the songs from MS6 to make tracker music with. Some of my older videos have featured a new introduction song I was working on and working with. I've used this introduction song to start making tracker music and offer a little more color to my videos.

I am not as confident in making music right now, but at least I know I can make my own tracker music by coming along with the right samples and putting them to good use. That's really what tracker music boils down to- a good set of samples and using them perfectly. It's all about building songs using a set of WAV files. More importantly, it's about taking advantage of various octaves and such to make a world of difference making tracker music. Your own typing keyboard can be your synthesizer if you don't own a proper synthesizer. You just have to play around with the keys until you find something you like. If you have a MIDI-enabled keyboard, then your tracker music experience can be made better by simply pressing certain keys in certain octaves.

More advanced trackers use a variety of extra programs and plug-ins to add some extra sound quality and style to make their music sound MUCH better. I am not a pro, so don't look to me for advice on this. I'll leave that up to people who really make their own music perfectly.

--- Tracker Music Inspiration ---
You don't think you can be your own trance music maker? Here are some YouTube videos of songs using tracker music to help give you some inspiration.

^ The program used in this video is with Renoise.

^ A composer named Awesome of WildBITS came along with this song. This one is called "Future Dreams" and is somehow a blend of trance and new age.

^ This song was done with ADT2PLAY with DOSBox, and this song reminds me of the classic PC game, Descent, in a way. This is a goa trance song.

^ This was a tracker song done with Fast Tracker II.

I hope these videos were enough inspiration for you to make your own tracker music. If you're not going to be a pro at making music from a dedicated synthesizer (like myself), then why not give tracker music a chance?

--- How to Get Started With Tracker Music ---
You need three things:

* a love of music
* a good tracker program
* a good set of samples

If you're one who complains that electronica is not real music, then you shouldn't even be looking at this blog entry. I gave you inspiration on making great electronica songs from the previous section. You should be able to at least envision your own dream tracker song if you have a love of music and a love of making music.

The best thing about tracker music is that you don't need some expensive program to make your own music. You can find freeware tracker programs that give you a whole lot of stuff you can do and implement. Think about finding a free tracker program and maybe paying a certain extra to have unrestricted full access to all of the program's features. Search online for programs like these:
* Renoise
* MadTracker
* FLStudio (FL stands for Fruity Loops)
...and programs like that.

All you need now would be a set of samples to use. You can use your creative muscle and record sound samples from various things. You have to be careful, though... you may want to avoid using any copyrighted sounds and sound effects. To be better safe than sorry, purchase programs featuring a load of sound samples you can use. Or just use a bunch of random sound effects you record to make your own music with. Or... you can do like I did and purchase a commercial program which gives you a great amount of sound samples you can use in your music. It's all up to you, but the key is on samples and making those samples work.

You also need to find out what your style is. What kind of music are you most into? What is your overall style of your music? If you're not good at making music, you just need to practice. Try different things to help you make your own music and make it better.

--- Getting Started: Programs and Samples ---
NOTE: This section contains links to Amazon products. You are welcome to click on images and links to learn more about each item. You are free to order any items featured in this section or in any widget if you choose. Please see "An Important Amazon Note" in my blog's sidebar to see more information on any Amazon items shown.

Through Amazon, I'll help you find sound samples and some programs that allow you to make tracker-type music. I encourage you to check out my widgets below. Click on any item that interests you if you want to start making your own music. I also encourage you to go purchase anything you like if something interests you. Remember- I don't want you to just read and leave. I want you to be able to purchase things if something interests you. If my blogging efforts paid off for you in understanding something, I want to offer my thanks to you by offering things in return through Amazon. It's about offering a product, and then allowing you to purchase something relevant to the blog entry if you love my work. I would appreciate your support if my blogging efforts mean something to you. This is a way of doing me a favor if you love my blogging work. So please... check out [and order if you see something you like] some of these items in case you're interested in making your own tracker music:

Some music programs give you free samples you can use for making tracker or module music. So check out this widget for music programs:

For sound samples:

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