Author Topic: Future of tracker music  (Read 2252 times)

Offline LPChip

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Re: Future of tracker music
« Reply #15 on: September 23, 2020, 08:14:05 »
By the way Saga Musix, are you threatening me when you said you might lose your patience with me? We're you planning on using the force choke on me like Darth Vader 🙂
As another person who moderates/administrates this forum, yes Saga Musix is not just a developer, he also administrates this forum, please understand that the biggest priority for us is that this forum is a nice place to go to where we respect each other. By saying "How old are you Saga Musix, 16 or maybe 9" you are basically directly insulting the person who can ban you for life. He will not ban you for one insult though. We are civilized, but there will be a point where our patient runs out.

Now I understand that there's this discussion going on about something on his website, but please keep in mind, that the original topic is about the future of Tracker music. By going this in-depth is basically saying: I don't care about the actual topic. A little bit of side discussion is fine, but as I see it, we really should get back on-topic.
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Offline Exhale

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Re: Future of tracker music
« Reply #16 on: September 24, 2020, 19:26:46 »
soundman, you are a clown... I admit when I was 12 and I first started tracking there was a magic to the whole thing and the names people chose for the songs felt like spells or whatever, but I grew up XD and I have no idea where you are getting all these satanically named modules from, but share bastard! XD
in all seriousness though... I think daws are simply more approachable because of the piano roll and ability to record and edit recordings directly in the software... I really think modplug can one day do both those things, but obviously its all far from trivial
« Last Edit: September 24, 2020, 20:41:06 by Exhale »
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Offline Alex TEHb

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Re: Future of tracker music
« Reply #17 on: September 25, 2020, 03:33:01 »
I think daws are simply more approachable because of the piano roll and ability to record and edit recordings directly in the software...

In OMPT there is a function of export of each channel separately.
It gives the chance to add a voice or to process each separate path in the third-party editor (mixer).
In my opinion, it is even better! An opportunity in addition to process music effects which are not (or they others) in OpenMPT.

You should not demand that EVERYTHING was in one program. Here more than once mentioned complexity of development of Trackers musics. Additional functions will add additional difficulties...

Offline Exhale

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Re: Future of tracker music
« Reply #18 on: September 25, 2020, 22:43:02 »
I demand nothing of modplug, as a singer and pianist and guitar player i definately want recording in modplug some day, but there is no rush
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Offline zikey

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Re: Future of tracker music
« Reply #19 on: November 17, 2020, 19:23:22 »
I am not sure that there is much future of tracking, because we are all stuck in the past. Once one tries to go beyond what libopenmpt can do, you're basically already in the MP3/OGG world - no one sees the point in real time anymore. A similar thing happened in the games industry - we went from chips straight to CD audio / ADPCM / MP3.

Even if a song was made in trackers like Madtracker/Skale/Renoise, it was often released as mp3 because distributing VST plugins with a song wasn't going to happen (Radix and Wayfinder come to mind). Real time synthesis is definitely possible to do in a tracker, especially wavetable and FM cost barely any CPU. People have done custom tools, often made for 4k or 64k demos. Buzz also allowed for some basic synth plugins, but like VST trackers, the Buzz project files often no longer work properly because they never include the right 'machine'/plugin, and it can be difficult to search the internet to find the exact version originally used.

But it's obvious that new trackers do not gain much traction at all. Even Klystrack, a chiptune tracker, is criminally underused. Which doesn't make sense considering how around 70% of modarchive are chiptune mods. It's really a zone for enthusiasts, and these days, people would rather use  stricter limitations of actual soundchips (FamiTracker/Deflemask), rather than a state of the art tracker.

But personally I would love an active tracker that supports different types of synthesis mixed with samples, and can still be played back real time. Like if OpenMPT and farbrausch V2M had a baby.

Offline Saga Musix

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Re: Future of tracker music
« Reply #20 on: November 17, 2020, 19:33:59 »
Trackers have exactly the same future as sequencers and any other type of DAW when you look at it from that standpoint. Yes, we are no longer using tracked music in games. But we are also not using Cubase project files in games! Tracks have just the same right to exist as any other DAW in this scenario. They don't even need sophisticated synth engines, because most sequencers don't have them either. Plugins are the answer to that, and have been for the last 20 years. The V2 is actually a good example why it wouldn't even be helpful if it was part of the tracker itself - the tracker would be outdated very quickly once the next better synth is released. With plugins, you can just use whatever synth sounds best or is the most powerful, and you can keep switching at any point in time without having to re-learn your workflow.
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Offline Alex TEHb

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Re: Future of tracker music
« Reply #21 on: November 18, 2020, 06:54:27 »
Hm...
I read a post and I am surprised what idea, various at us, that such tracker music.
I do not want to watch some wiki. There, for certain, again will be someone's subjective opinion issued in the quote...

In my understanding, tracker music is the music written in the editor who provides data in the form of separate tracks.
With the advent of Piano Roll this concept became less concrete...

Difficult to be focused on something that so distinguishes modern tracker music. It is not important for me whether ready samples are used or the sound is synthesized... Process of writing of music is important. But it remains at the author. Already ready-made product is provided to us (if it is a MP3).

Tracker music value just in modules. They can be studied, edited... Invaluable material for beginners! Even only for the sake of it I vote for tracker!

Offline dem1

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Re: Future of tracker music
« Reply #22 on: November 18, 2020, 13:58:50 »
I think if more DAWs published file format specs, or at least had a EULA that didn't explicitly prohibit any reversing, we'd have a variety of software that could play and edit those project files, and users would share them more often. Maybe this will happen with Hydrogen or Giada, given a couple decades.

I don't understand your point about the wiki, Alex.

Offline zikey

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Re: Future of tracker music
« Reply #23 on: November 18, 2020, 16:23:00 »
Yes, we are no longer using tracked music in games. But we are also not using Cubase project files in games!

We should be using tracked music in games and demos. Especially demos. But you only find synths in 64k demos these days. I don't think soft synths should be a gimmick, it should be embraced as an intricate component of the software. So many good games and demos gain character by having dynamic real-time sound engines, etc. Not some MP3 player to include in your demo/game.

Trackers have exactly the same future as sequencers and any other type of DAW when you look at it from that standpoint.
[...]
Tracks have just the same right to exist as any other DAW in this scenario. They don't even need sophisticated synth engines, because most sequencers don't have them either. Plugins are the answer to that, and have been for the last 20 years.
[...]
With plugins, you can just use whatever synth sounds best or is the most powerful, and you can keep switching at any point in time without having to re-learn your workflow.

I'm not insulting trackers or saying they have no right to exist. Obviously trackers now compete with DAWs, and share the same VST plugins. That's their future. Renoise is really just a DAW that spits out WAV/MP3/OGG, using the same plugins and concepts as any other DAW. OpenMPT doesn't escape from this fate really.

I'm talking about "Module files" like MOD, S3M, XM, IT. There's simply no true successor to them. MPTM and XRNS aren't successors because they no longer act as standalone modules, they're just project/session files.

I like synth VSTs more than most people, but there's nothing interesting or cool about them. They're not suited to precise control offered by trackers, we can't even do perfect pitch slides like we do with samples! They're the same tools mainstream producers use. 4k synths have no problem with these limitations, because they don't adhere to crappy corporate standards. VST3 is also pretty hated by many devs. No one gives a crap about LV2 or LADSPA, since they're not multiplatform or just not important enough.

I like the 'tidiness' of a music module, where everything is self contained. I miss the whole scene of sharing mods, swapping samples. VST ruined this spirit and soul of mod music. Because it forced everyone to distribute in MP3. XRNS and MPTM files have no place in Modarchve. There's less than 1% available such files on the net vs what the MOD/XM scene has built. That says a lot about post-XM tracker communities.

The question then becomes, was it a mistake to release everyone's PT/FT2 source files?! Or are we being held back and alienated by our tools?

I use a DAW primarily, I never got into 'track editing' first. But I appreciate tracking for the precision it offers. But VST has no real precision. You are limited to the controls exposed by the plugin, and often don't have the range of pitch bend you want, or this or that.
I've used many 'synth trackers', 'chip trackers', that allow for incredible variation and dynamics of synth instruments. OctaMED, AHX, Musicline Editor, and modern niche things on Github - Klystrack, FMComposer, SunVox, Patatracker... you name it. but that's the problem, they're niche, experimental. There's no true successor to XM/IT. No 'one true format'.

IT had filters... Modplug added built in FX... all supported by libopenmpt. but where's the built in synths?! That's the obvious missing thing.

There's no reason why someone can't code minimalist clones of Albino, or Synth1, or this or that, really nicely optimized, and have it built into a tracker, playing nicely with FX inserts and all this - and making it work through libopenmpt in mediaplayers and browsers.

I am tired of the same old rendering to WAV, encoding to MP3... Obsessing over mixing and mastering, just for 10 views on SC/BC. I want to build my music, engineer it - carefully build instruments and drumsets around tiny Opus encoded samples, use real synth engines - and have a <100KB 'new mod' file, sounding just as good as any DAW, to share and collaborate around. I miss those days of 'sizecoding music', 4k chip files and such. I can already make my project files in my DAW quite tiny, and still sounding good, but no such thing exists in the tracker world.


Edit: Don't take this as some sort of feature request.. I'm only saying that in an alternate future, maybe if Renoise was designed a bit differently, like with real time in mind, maybe it would have its own 'plugin spec' or open source sound engine.. and we'd have Renoise support in Xmplay, foobar, see Renoise in demos with really impressive synth sounds... see renoise files being created and shared rapidly like in the old days, on sites like modarchive etc.
« Last Edit: November 18, 2020, 16:32:52 by zikey »

Offline dem1

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Re: Future of tracker music
« Reply #24 on: November 19, 2020, 02:33:22 »
We should be using tracked music in games and demos. Especially demos. But you only find synths in 64k demos these days. I don't think soft synths should be a gimmick, it should be embraced as an intricate component of the software. So many good games and demos gain character by having dynamic real-time sound engines, etc. Not some MP3 player to include in your demo/game.


I'm not familiar with demos, and I don't understand what you're saying about them. How is it even possible to have streamed music in a demo? What about 4klang?

I was under the impression that most games already use real-time sound engines, and these are wildly distinct from trackers because the requirements are really different - sound localization, scene-dependent reverb, dynamic compression, the doppler effect, sounds triggered by game events, Shepard tones, playing nice with the rest of the game engine, and randomly multisampled sounds are the most important things that come to mind.

Quote
IT had filters... Modplug added built in FX... all supported by libopenmpt. but where's the built in synths?! That's the obvious missing thing.

There's no reason why someone can't code minimalist clones of Albino, or Synth1, or this or that, really nicely optimized, and have it built into a tracker, playing nicely with FX inserts and all this - and making it work through libopenmpt in mediaplayers and browsers.

Is the OPL emulator too minimalist? What would you do about producers who think the putative Synth1 clone is too minimalist?

Quote
I am tired of the same old rendering to WAV, encoding to MP3... Obsessing over mixing and mastering, just for 10 views on SC/BC.

Puzzled by this. If you could distribute loads of tracked music easily, wouldn't you still have to worry about mixing and mastering? Wouldn't it still be hard to have your music rise above the background noise?

Quote
I want to build my music, engineer it - carefully build instruments and drumsets around tiny Opus encoded samples, use real synth engines - and have a <100KB 'new mod' file, sounding just as good as any DAW, to share and collaborate around. I miss those days of 'sizecoding music', 4k chip files and such. I can already make my project files in my DAW quite tiny, and still sounding good, but no such thing exists in the tracker world.

Sizecoding is a self-imposed limitation and (I think) has little practical use these days.

Details aside, I totally agree with you, I would prefer it if things were that way. I just can't see how to get there from here. If you can think of two or three free plugins that give .mptm all the features you could want, I'll go download them and listen to/tinker with whatever you're willing to upload here.

Offline LPChip

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Re: Future of tracker music
« Reply #25 on: November 19, 2020, 15:42:36 »
Quote
We should be using tracked music in games and demos.
Actually, no we shouldn't.

When your aim is to distribute something really small, yes, you should use the tracker format because it will give you small files for music.

But in 2020, when making games and demos, filesize is not an issue in most cases. There are demo competitions where filesize is still a choise, but then tracker music is one of the possibibilities.

But if its not, then quality becomes the thing you strife for. In a demo competition where filesize restrictions are not an issue, viewers will easily choose a demo with a well mixed/mastered song over a demo that uses a module.

When it comes to gaming, having a 150 gig game is not unheard of. (looking at MS FlightSim 2020). So if filesize is not an issue, and if you compare what a module can do with only samples, vs using plugins, then the choice is easy. Plugins will bring you more than just sound. VST effects can master the music too, giving a much richer experience.

If you were to allow the VST effects and modules to work in the game, then suddenly, you add a lot of CPU usage to a game that the gamer wants to be gone, as their system is not too powerful. So a .wav or .mp3 file is always going to be preferable.

The same applies with demos.

When it comes to the art, one just simply wants to get the best they can and not settle for less. Using modules is really settling for less or complicating the workflow so much that it simply isn't worth it.

And yes, I've used my OpenMPT to make commercial music, make music for games and for demos, so I know what I'm talking about. For small demo competitions, sound quality is a bonus, filesize is a must, so tracker modules all the way. For anything else, sound quality is the most important thing, so the end product is always a .ogg or .mp3.
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Offline zikey

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Re: Future of tracker music
« Reply #26 on: November 19, 2020, 20:42:07 »
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eVddGSTjEd0

Alright, maybe I'm old fashioned and adverse to change. I don't know. All I can say is no one ever listens or buys your music these days unless you're Jeroen.Tel or Dubmood. I don't understand killing underground scenes for a music industry that can't even support everyone. Things seemed better, more productive, more innovative, more open, in the MOD/XM days. I just cope by telling myself I do music for myself, but I simply am not satisfied enough with proprietary DAWs always killing old obsolete features with each new version. I want full control. When commercialism goes out of the window, there's nothing to stop one from just making their own tools to suit their needs. I don't know why this niche isn't filled. I've been considering making such a tracker for myself, designing my own plugin API, so I can port and reverse engineer VST synth engines and optimize them and.. yeah.  It sounds crazy, but you only need to look around GitHub to see I'm not alone. Even BeRo is making his own DAW recently.

I'm really just saying that trackers are becoming the same thing as a traditional DAW. Will there ever be a new plugin API that makes full use of all Renoise and OpenMPT commands? Who knows, probably not. But sound engines are dead, that's for sure (and sad to me). Self-imposed limitations are dead, no one cares or finds it interesting. No one cares whether the soundtrack of your demo has moving parts under the hood, just that it looks nice.

But there's 38,149 XM files on Modland. 76,420 MOD files. HVSC has 52,884 SID files so far. You look at the KVR OSC (one synth challenge), and there's only 40 songs per synth that demonstrate a synth's capabilities. Despite the fact every single one is more capable than SID or XM.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2020, 03:13:22 by zikey »

Offline dem1

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Re: Future of tracker music
« Reply #27 on: November 19, 2020, 21:42:34 »
Alright, maybe I'm old fashioned and adverse to change. I don't know. All I can say is no one ever listens or buys your music these days unless you're Jeroen.Tel or Dubmood. I don't understand killing underground scenes for a music industry that can't even support everyone.
Things seemed better, more productive, more innovative, more open, in the MOD/XM days. I just cope by telling myself I do music for myself, but I simply am not satisfied enough with proprietary DAWs always killing old obsolete features with each new version. I want full control. When commercialism goes out of the window, there's nothing to stop one from just making their own tools to suit their needs. I don't know why this niche isn't filled. I've been considering making such a tracker for myself, designing my own plugin API, so I can port and reverse engineer VST synth engines and optimize them and.. yeah.  It sounds crazy, but you only need to look around GitHub to see I'm not alone. Even BeRo is making his own DAW recently.

I know I've been casting aspersions on this, saying there's no way it would work, but if you're actually going to make these tools then I would sincerely be really excited about helping you fulfill your nostalgic utopian vision. I'm talking 1000% support in making the tools, writing plugins in this new API, participating in a scene, and just generally getting stuff going (I'm a lousy developer but this sounds like a great way to get better).

Quote
I'm really just saying that trackers are becoming the same thing as a traditional DAW. Will there ever be a new plugin API that makes full use of all Renoise and OpenMPT commands? Who knows, probably not. But sound engines are dead, that's for sure (and sad to me). Self-imposed limitations are dead, no one cares or finds it interesting. No one cares whether the soundtrack of your demo has moving parts under the hood, just that it looks nice.

But there's 38,149 XM files on Modland. 76,420 MOD files. HVSC has 52,884 SID files so far. You look at the KVR OSC (one synth challenge), and there's only 40 songs per synth that demonstrate a synth's capabilities. Despite the fact every single one is more capable than SID or XM.

Again, have I totally misunderstood what 4klang is for?

Offline zikey

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Re: Future of tracker music
« Reply #28 on: November 19, 2020, 23:55:24 »
I know I've been casting aspersions on this, saying there's no way it would work, but if you're actually going to make these tools then I would sincerely be really excited about helping you fulfill your nostalgic utopian vision. I'm talking 1000% support in making the tools, writing plugins in this new API, participating in a scene, and just generally getting stuff going (I'm a lousy developer but this sounds like a great way to get better).

I appreciate the enthusiasm ;). It's definitely 'utopian', and a lot of work. I'm still just in the research/prior art phase. There are a lot of things to consider, including old abandon projects that simply need a new mantle. But something already exists with a similar scope: https://bintracker.org/. A "A hackable Chiptune Audio Workstation". It's focused on actual chiptune emulation, but should be pretty extensible for a lot of uses. There's also SOUL: https://soul.dev/. Which is a new audio language like csound. Can be used to implement all sorts of audio code.

Again, have I totally misunderstood what 4klang is for?

4klang is a modular synth for 4k demos, there's also a more advanced 64klang version for 64k demos. It's just a VST plugin that spits out MIDI data for inclusion in a demo/app. Yes, it can play music. And it's pretty flexible (read: incredibly complicated). But it still relies on a separate sequencer, doesn't support samples, and it actually uses a ton of CPU due to it designed around being as small as possible. Optimized synth code can actually be quite fast though, and would need to be in a real-time format.

Something closer to what I mean is actually the predecessor to Renoise known as PreTrekker: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_rumqR9Refo. It has a built in synth (only one), effects and supports samples. But it's old and the concept can be taken further.

There's also Jeskola Buzz which also tries to solve this, but it's a bit problematic and not as well defined as VST, and still relies on external plugins that are hard to find.

SunVox (https://www.warmplace.ru/soft/sunvox/) is also very close. Even has a JS library for playing music in browser. So probably foobar/xmplay plugins can be made too.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2020, 05:04:22 by zikey »

Offline Midori Mizuno

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Re: Future of tracker music
« Reply #29 on: November 20, 2020, 14:38:48 »
I'm gonna be very blunt for a second here. Not gonna address every single issue that had been tackled since the beginning of the thread, but for the most part the discussion reads like a pointless complaining along the lines of "back then everything was Z, today it's less Z, we should be doing Z exactly the same way it had been done before".

First of all, trackers definitely aren't dead, and while they aren't mainstream music tools i don't think they ever were to begin with (even though their presence seems to have decreased even more over years - although Saga's mentioned that OpenMPT alone has enjoyed an influx in recent times, and this is just one tracker among numerous other software projects like this!)

Game music written the way it's being written nowadays wasn't that uncommon even in the 90s, especially later into the decade - there were numerous titles utilising rendered, streamed music, coexisting with those utilising realtime sequencing.

Proportions also change, depending on the target system we take under consideration - realtime sequenced music was still a very common practice well into the late 2000s on handhelds like NDS beacuse of space efficiency.

But in the end, a question to ask yourself is... Does it really matter? No one is stopping you from using your favourite tools to do whatever you want in your own projects, but also no one should be requiring others to follow your idea of "ideal music production methods". Whatever tools get the job done for you, basically.

Also the fact we don't see raw source module files in the wild as often doesn't mean at all that the game/music album/insert whatever project here/ wasn't made with heavy usage of trackers - the music might just have been rendered or encoded into a proprietary container for example.

Someone mentioned that people don't care about limitations and the creative aspect that they're providing. Well, that's very far from true, because there still are entire communities of passionate people who are interested exactly in those qualities among other things, like Battle of the Bits, Chiptune Cafe or events like S3xmoditMania to name a few. Same goes for old Desktop MIDI modules with places like DTM MIDI Central Discord, and associated YT channels.

Interestingly, sample-based trackers also seem quite popular in YTPMV circles for some reason, and while I'm not really into YTPMV. i know about this because of few friends with YTPMV history.

Sure, it's not the mainstream approach, but it's never really been - back in the day people were working with limitations not necessarily out of their conscious choice, but because of the fact those limitations were a standard or even state of the art consumer grade technology at the time.

Traditionally tracker music is considered, so-called, Demo-Scene. And where other styles?
Why they so are not enough? Today in Tracker it is possible to make almost any style...
As for this one, you certainly must have remained in your own bubble, because i heard lots of very different styles of music made in trackers, be it sample-based or otherwise. You're almost implying that trackers are exclusive to the demoscene (which isn't true, despite many of them having demoscene roots).
« Last Edit: November 20, 2020, 14:57:02 by Midori Mizuno »