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Old 07 April 2018, 14:46   #1
james666
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Songs that use early Soundtracker modulation commands

Some of the earliest Scene versions of Soundtracker (e.g. Jungle Command / Defjam / DOC Soundtracker II - VI) released in 1988 contain some intriguing commands that take advantage of Paula's ability to use the output from one channel to modulate the volume and/or frequency of a second channel:

3 - Modulate volume of next higher voice.
4 - Modulate period of next higher voice.
5 - Modulate period + volume of next higher voice.
6 - Modulate volume of next higher voice and portamento up.
7 - Modulate period of next higher voice and portamento up
8 - Modulate period + volume of next higher voice + portamento up.
9 - Modulate volume of next higher voice and portamento down.
A - Modulate period of next higher voice and portamento down.
B - Modulate period + vol of next higher voice + portamento down.

Does anyone have any songs that use this modulation functionality?

I have never seen one in the wild, not even a demo on the original Soundtracker II-VI disks(*). This is perhaps not surprising given that (a) it's difficult to control the effect when one sample is used to modulate another and (b) there were only a few short months before these old Soundtrackers were superseded by much more user-friendly versions that evolved towards the “modern” command set. Nevertheless, it would be fascinating to hear an aesthetically pleasing example. Paula's modulation hardware allows some pretty sophisticated sound synthesis if multiple channels are chained together - but software that uses it seems to be extremely rare.

(*) Soundtracker II-VI ADFs can be found here: http://janeway.exotica.org.uk/release.php?id=17708
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Old 07 April 2018, 16:19   #2
chip
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Hi james666

I'm sorry i can't help you, too much technical question

I love Soundtracker modules, but no skills to go so deep in such details

Anyway, welcome to the forum
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Old 08 April 2018, 05:11   #3
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That sounds incredibly useful. Yes, controlling it with a tracker sounds fucking painful, but the capabilities sound similar to some of those transwave synths like the Ensoniq VFX-SD.

Would be very cool to make a program using these features.
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Old 08 April 2018, 14:32   #4
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Thanks for the replies. I'm a long time lurker here!

For most purposes the Protracker tremolo and vibrato commands (with preset waveforms) no doubt suffice and have the advantage that no channels are lost (channel that controls the hardware modulation is always silent). However, I'm sure some interesting effects could be achieved with arbitrary modulation waveforms and several modulating channels chained together, and would have better quality than could be practically be achieved in real time with software. (For example, the Protracker replay would typically only update the effect with a resolution of ~50Hz depending on the CIA speed setting.)

It does seems strange that someone went to the trouble of building these features into the early Soundtrackers but never created any songs that use them. There's a very interesting discussion of Soundtracker evolution here by a guy who has written a Tracker replay library in Javascript: http://weaselaudiolib.sourceforge.net/ He hasn't found any historical examples either.

Maybe I'll have a go myself! I might write my own replay utililty too because Soundtrackers II-VI are a real pain to use (break if run on anything other than kickstart 1.2 with cycle-exact A500 timing) and I don't think any other replayers exist that support the legacy commands.
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Old 08 April 2018, 16:33   #5
meynaf
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Using these features is accepting losing one or several audio channels, and we already don't have enough of them.
So if a musician has the choice between 4 and software effects vs 2 or 3 and hardware effects, what do you think he'll most likely choose ?
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Old 09 April 2018, 16:40   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by meynaf View Post
Using these features is accepting losing one or several audio channels, and we already don't have enough of them.
So if a musician has the choice between 4 and software effects vs 2 or 3 and hardware effects, what do you think he'll most likely choose ?
That wildly depends on the use. Losing two channels could still be acceptable.

You could be using the Amiga as a stereo monosynth and losing two channels wold be fine. I for one would love to try that.

As an actual musician, not one trying to make music for a demo or a game, this functionality sounds very tempting. That's why I also questioned its use within the context of a tracker. It would be better suited for something like Aegis Sonix. The Amiga doesn't have enough synth software anyway.

Last edited by Akira; 09 April 2018 at 19:13.
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Old 09 April 2018, 18:25   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by james666 View Post
I might write my own replay utililty too because Soundtrackers II-VI are a real pain to use (break if run on anything other than kickstart 1.2 with cycle-exact A500 timing) and I don't think any other replayers exist that support the legacy commands.
It should be fairly simple to patch them to work on another specific Kickstart version (e.g. 1.3), if that could help at all?
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Old 23 April 2018, 08:39   #8
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Here's a demo that features audio modulation: https://www.pouet.net/prod.php?which=65872
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Old 27 June 2018, 15:42   #9
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Hi mark_k!



Quote:
Originally Posted by mark_k View Post
It should be fairly simple to patch them to work on another specific Kickstart version (e.g. 1.3), if that could help at all?

Do you know if there is documentation for those old commands, suitable for programming and file format description of those old formats (or do they use SoundTracker 16 format? If so, is it possible to auto-detect those kind of modules)?


I'm asking, because I could support them in my mod player, which I've written long time ago.
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Old 27 June 2018, 17:07   #10
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You'll probably have to use a ton of heuristic hacks to distinguish the different STK formats... It's not as simple as testing a field in the header. This is why it's so difficult to make a good universal .mod/.stk replayer.
Also if I were you, I'd not bother until I found at least a couple of songs using those old AM/FM effects, and making sure those effects were from the AM/FM version of the tracker could be hard to figure out. Again, plain uncertain heuristics.

Anyways, it would require you to implement two new features (AM/FM modulation from other voices) into your audio channel mixer, unless you are talking about a replayer for Amigas.
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Old 27 June 2018, 17:57   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 8bitbubsy View Post
Also if I were you, I'd not bother until I found at least a couple of songs using those old AM/FM effects, and making sure those effects were from the AM/FM version of the tracker could be hard to figure out. Again, plain uncertain heuristics.
So maybe a command line switch like -m to enable channel modulation in SoundTracker 16 files is the best solution?

Quote:
Anyways, it would require you to implement two new features (AM/FM modulation from other voices) into your audio channel mixer, unless you are talking about a replayer for Amigas.
Well, the player I was speaking of was made for A500/KS1.x, because I ran out of memory for some modules.
So I decided to load all non-sample data of the module into fast RAM and allocating chip memory for each sample. I also wanted to play the modules with lower/higher speed while adjusting the pitch in the same manner.

Is the source code of those old STK trackers available? So, I can see how those commands are implemented. I also want to know, what happens if you execute the modulation commands with invalid/out of bounds parameters.
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Old 27 June 2018, 18:16   #12
8bitbubsy
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A command switch is an easier approach and would be acceptable for the rare cases of needing to play a module like that, I think.

I'm not sure if the source code was ever released for that version, might as well disassemble it and look for known stuff like the period table to find the replayer specific code.
Also regarding testing the limits of the commands, you could try to find the binary of that tracker and run it on your Amiga or in an emulator.
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Old 29 June 2018, 19:13   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 8bitbubsy View Post
A command switch is an easier approach and would be acceptable for the rare cases of needing to play a module like that, I think.
Yesterday I just realized I never did release the player to the public. Even it has unique features, which some people might find interesting.

Therefore, I now have released the MOD player on Aminet.
It comes with Devpac source.

Download here:
http://aminet.net/package/mus/play/cdgs_bastyplayer

Quote:
I'm not sure if the source code was ever released for that version, might as well disassemble it and look for known stuff like the period table to find the replayer specific code.
Also regarding testing the limits of the commands, you could try to find the binary of that tracker and run it on your Amiga or in an emulator.
That should be no problem.
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