- SiGnAlS -
Issue II Volume I
July 21, 1993
"Dedicated to all the coderz and their insane delusions..."
Executive Editor: Necrs, The PsYcHiC MoNkS
I : Introduction
Welcome to the second issue of SiGnAlS. In this issue, we will cover more basics for the newbies out there, some advanced tricks for the modhackers out there, and some more of my wonderful (he he) commentary.
II : Basix
Last time we covered the basics of what a MOD is. This time, we shall examine the whats and wheres of how to get started in the mod coding business. MOD coding is not the easiest thing in the world to do, but with the right tools, one can make the job much easier.
First, one needs a good tracker. A tracker is a program that allows you to enter note data in MOD format, and to replay existing song data. Most support many functions, like playlisting, sample looping and finetuning, and track copy/pasting (more on that in the next issue). There are many decent trackers out there, but make sure that the one you find supports all the Protracker 2.2 and up functions. Most good trackers will also support more than four tracks of sample data. Large FTP sites (cs.uwp.edu, wuarchive.wustl.edu, nic.funet.fi, etc.) usually have a few trackers in their /audio or /mods directories. My personal favorite is Mr. T's FastTracker, which is a good small (~55K) tracker which supports many functions.
Secondly, one needs a good playback program. Most trackers support playback, but sometimes you will want to use a protected-mode MOD player. This will allow you to run music in the DOS background, and put modules in extended or expanded memory. The PMP/DMP series by Otto Chrons is a good series of high-quality playback routines. There are also many other great players out ther; look around and I'm sure you'll find what you need.
Finally, you need a source of samples. MODS do not use instrument files like FM drivers. They use sampled instrument files (with a format similar to that of .VOC files) to produce the sound data. Now, there are two way to get samples. One, sample directly off CD or personal keyboard. It is easy to get high-quality samples off a direct line-in connection via outside source. Simply use a basic sampler, such as that hideous VEDIT2 supplied w/most SoundBlaster cards, and grab the sound off the line-in port. Then, in your tracker, convert the sample from .VOC format to .SMP format. You will then be ready to go.
The other method is a little more dastardly. There are thousands of MODS floating around out there on FTP sites. Each one probably has 15 to 20 samples. Out of these 15 to 20 samples, maybe five will be good generally-usable samples. You can simply grab the sample out of the MOD and save it to a .SMP file, for easy use in your songs. Usually about ten or fifteen mods will provide a good variety for starters. Morally, this may be a bit reprehensible. (You are practically stealing the work of others right from the source.) What I would suggest is to avoid ripping off sounds from modules that copyright their samples. Usually they'll indicate this in the instrument names, for example, 'All sample data (C) 1993 Necrs'. However, if they don't copyright their stuff … welcome to the land of public domain.
Anyways, I hope this has been somewhat helpful. More on the actual MOD file itself in the next issue.
III: Tricks and Tips with Necrs
Greetz hacker friends. Today we cover some of the more interesting efx you can use in your modules. Here we go:
1 - The Famous Volume Slide
Many times you will have a basic chord sound in your mod. This may sit on its track, all alone, repeating quietly until the end of time (and the track). How canst one liven up this chordal sound? The answer- XXA0F! Ah, yes, now before you accuse me of speaking in hex again, watch this little example.
00 E-2 01000 (a boring repeating) 00 E-2 01A0F (yes, what is this?) 01 --- 00000 (string chord sound) 01 --- 01A0F 02 --- 00000 02 --- 01A0F 03 --- 00000 03 --- 01A0F 04 --- 00000 <---------- VS. -------> 04 --- 01A0F 05 --- 00000 05 --- 01A0F 06 --- 00000 06 --- 01A0F 07 --- 00000 07 --- 01A0F 08 --- 00000 08 --- 01A0F 09 --- 00000 09 --- 01A0F
The pattern on the right uses the volume slide command, –A0F to create a 'stuttering chord' effect. The volume slide command slides the volume of the track from 00 to 3F in one beat. This, when repeated, creates an interesting effect. The effect can become even better when the pattern is slightly varied, such as this:
00 E-2 01A0F Note that the sample number (1) is repeated in front 01 --- 00000 of the A0F effect. This is necessary for the slide 02 --- 01A0F to work correctly. 03 --- 01A0F 04 --- 01A0F 05 --- 00000 06 --- 01A0F 07 --- 01A0F 08 --- 00000 09 --- 01A0F 0A --- 01A0F 0B --- 00000 0C --- 01A0F 0D --- 00000 0E --- 01A0F (repeated 4X) 0F --- 00000
2 - PhAsE Shifting from Hell
Phase shifting is the overlaying two samples so their peaks are off by a small amount, creating a slow interference effect in the final waveform. (Ack!) In other words, you play the same sample on two different tracks, at pitches that are off from each other by a very small amount (+- 10 cents). This creates a sweeping effect in the final sound. This works very well for snare drum samples, sawtooth wave pads, guitars, and any sample with a textured wave. To do this, simply take a sample (we'll use a generic snare sound for this example) and layer them together with a pitch shift.
00 C-2 01000 C-2 01101 Here, we use the pitch shift effect, --1XX, 01 --- 00000 --- 00000 to create the needed shift. Do not make the 02 --- 00000 --- 00000 pitch shift too large! Sometimes you will 03 --- 00000 --- 00000 even want to use a finetuned pitch, if your 04 --- 00000 --- 00000 tracker supports it (--E1X).
The amount of the shift needed is inversely proportional to the pitch of the note you are phasing. If the note is low (a C-1, perhaps) then you may need a –102 or –103. If it is high (a C-3 or F-3) then you only need a slight pitch shift (a finetune: –E11 works nicely).
Try this effect on long sustained samples (not looping, SUSTAINED … there's a difference.) Have fun, my friends.
Next issue: vibrato and what it can do for you, and the delicate art of the
Any comments or tips? Please send 'em to me at:
firstname.lastname@example.org (Subject : tricks and tips)
IV : Visualizations
I'd like to offer up a few of my unanswered ruminations. If anyone has any answers to enlighten me … I'd be glad to hear them. Send any mail to me at the above address.
Why is the United States of America such a shithole for demo groups? Everyone around here seems interested in Windows NT and LAN networks and user-friendly garbage like that. Walk into a computer software store, and you will see nothing but the same rehashed plots and ideas shoveled out again to the public. I'm moving to Finland. ;)
Why don't developers use MODS instead of lame FM crap in their games? It slows things down, granted, but that is a small price to pay for the sound quality, especially on higher-end machines. The only commercial game around here that I've seen use MOD technology is Alone In The Dark. A French game! The corporate giants don't know what they're missing.
The fact that techno mods are easy to write should not preclude people from inventing new and interesting music.
And finally, (and I've oft wondered this myself), how does Internet make money? I can call up nic.funet.fi and download nine billion megs, using weeks of phone time, overseas, and not pay a dime. AT&T would shit if I tried this on a voice line. Yet thousands of people do it all the time. Given, I'm shelling out thousands of dollars for my education, with a internet account as a side benefit, but it still seems like a huge loss of intercontinental fiber-optic line time. Oh well. I'm not complaining.
please send all submissions to:
turtle-express: Necrs re: Signals The PsYcHiC MoNkS 7958 State Route 69 Oriskany, NY 13424