- – SiGnALS —
Issue V Volume I
August 11, 1993
Executive Editor : Necrs of The PsYcHiC MoNkS
I..........................................Editor's Delusions II......................................................Basix III..................................Tricks 'n' Tips w/Necrs IV.............................................Visualizations V......................................................Final
Greets to: Skaven of FC for a nifty ASM 93 MOD (even if it was a 3 hour piece of shit!), Pxyll … or is it PaRaDiGm?, all the PM fans, all of those who have written me and recieved no response (more on that later), and Draeden of VLA for the assembly help … even if he doesn't know it yet.
I: Editor's Delusions
Welcome to the fifth issue of SiGnAlS, the magazine for the modern MOD coder. You may have noticed some changes in the format of SiGnAlS, but they are mostly just aesthetic. BTW, sorry about the long delay before the release of this issue. I actually forgot I had another issue due. <:O (Will try to keep on top of things in the future!)
MY MAILER IS DOWN FOR OUTGOING MAIL! Sorry to all of you who have mailed me in the last few weeks. I am trying to get the problem fixed, but until then, you will have to take my word for it that I am very grateful for your responses. I am trying to incorporate many of your questions into future issues. ;)
Now sit back, relax, and catch the SiGnAlS. ;)
Well, last week we showed you how to actually sit down and start working on a module. In this issue, we present some more generalized info that should help you on your foray into the digital jungle.
The 'module' format actually goes under many aliases. Some common formats you will see are MOD, AMF, STM, 669, S3M, and NST. MOD and NST are usually Amiga 4-track modules. However, the MOD format also supports more tracks than 4 (usually 6 or 8). STM, S3M, and 669 are usually mod-like creations with 8 tracks. A good player should be able to handle many different file types.
Modules are not intrinsically in stereo (for those of you with stereo cards). A mod player will usually assign each track to a discrete stereo channel, either left or right. To my ear, this sounds like garbage. Each track is isolated on one side, thus resulting in a 'pseudo-stereo' effect. The only way to make it true stereo (or like any the normal stereo you're used to) is to play the mod on both sides simultaneously. This obviously requires twice as many tracks as your mod; if you write four track mods, you only have two tracks to really work with in true stereo. Some good players allow (like DMP) allow you to mix the stereo channels, resulting in a very nice 'surround sound' effect. More stereo tricks later.
Where to find mods? The best way is through FTP. Some local bulletin board systems carry modules in their audio directories, but usually they have a small selection. FTP sites usually have large (50-60) selections of modules for public downloading. Some good sites are:
nic.funet.fi (Finland) /pub/amiga/modules wuarchive.wustl.edu (US) /pub/msdos_uploads/mods cs.uwp.edu (US) brad.ac.uk (UK)
Make sure you are in binary mode before downloading, unless you like listening to digitized ASCII. ;)
To logon to an anonymous FTP site, simply enter 'anonymous' as your name, and your internet address as your password. Usually the transfer rates are reasonable (3-4 Kbytes/sec).
How do you know what you're downloading? You don't. This is not good, especially if you spend four or five hours downloading to find you have crap. Most mods have a text file that has the same name as the mod in the same directory. Download this first and read it. Hopefully they'll have some sort of description of what kind of module it is. You can eliminate some files by common sense. For example, if you hate techno, DON'T DOWNLOAD RhythmIsADancer.lzh!
Ah, '.lzh'. I almost forgot. Most modules you'll download are compressed. This is good and bad. You don't have to spend as long downloading it, but you have to uncompress it before you can play it. Here are some common archive (compressed file) extensions, and the corresponding extraction programs.
.LZH or .LHA - use LHA.EXE by Haruyasu Yoshizaki .ZIP - use PKUNZIP.EXE from PkWare .ARJ - use ARJ.EXE by Robert K. Jung
These programs are available by FTP also, try the /pub/msdos/compression or /pub/msdos/utils directories. ;)
Well, that's Basix for today. Enjoy your module coding!
III : Tricks and Tips w/Necrs
We have two new tricks for use in your fun modules today. In this section, we will cover the magic sample offset effect (9XX), and also the fun Portamento to Note (3XX)! Ah, before you get mad at my blatant use of unseemly symbols, please read on just a little farther.
Trick #1: Sample Offsetting
What if your bass track sucks? Can you liven it up a little? How can you make even a disgusting stream of the same 'C-1' bass note sound inventive? The answer… yeah, you know already. Sample offsetting.
First what you need is a sound that changes versus time. Let's use a bass sound for our example. Get a bass sound that maybe makes a 'wow' sound, or a 'neeeeow' sound or a 'beeeeeooouuunnnnt' sound. (Sorry about the noises, but wait 'til I start uploading sample examples w/the mag. You'd think twice about d/loading this if it was 3 megs ;) Anyways, try this with your sound.
Instead of this... try this.....
01 C-1 01000 01 C-1 01901 02 C-1 01000 02 C-1 01902 03 C-1 01000 03 C-1 01903 04 C-1 01000 04 C-1 01904 05 C-1 01000 05 C-1 01905 06 C-1 01000 06 C-1 01906 07 C-1 01000 07 C-1 01907 08 C-1 01000 08 C-1 01908 09 C-1 01000 09 C-1 01901 0A C-1 01000 0A C-1 01902 . . . . . .
What is this? We are using the sample offset effect (9XX). This starts playing the sample at an offset from its starting position, given by the XX modifier. For example, putting a 901 effect on a sample will play it at a slight offset, but a 920 effect may start the note halfway through the sample. By varying this on a repeated note, we can create different sounds out of the same instrument by playing different parts of the sample. Try it, you'll like it.
Also try playing two long sounds at the same time, one normally, one with a 901 sample offset effect. It produces a neat phase shift effect (and a nice stereo reverb for those of you w/stereo cards).
Trick #2: Portamento to Note
The Portamento to Note effect (3XX) is a neat way to create pitch bends without the hassle of regular port up or port down (1XX,2XX) commands. Let's say you want to slide from a C-2 to a E-2…
The stinky way! The good way!
01 C-1 01101 01 C-1 01000 02 --- 01101 02 --- 01000 03 --- 01101 03 --- 01000 04 --- 01101 04 --- 01000 05 --- 01101 05 --- 01000 06 E-1 01000 06 E-1 01301 07 --- 01000 07 --- 01301 08 --- 01000 08 --- 01301 09 --- 01000 09 --- 013F0 0A --- 01000 0A --- 01000
In the first example, we use normal portamento up commands to slide the note upwards. The problem is - how much do we slide so we land exactly on the note? Trial and error is the only answer, my friends. This can be avoided by the use of Portamento To Note (3XX). This effect specifies a destination note for the slide. The effect will never slide above that note, no matter how much slide you put into it. Notice in the second example, in beat 06 we specify the 301 effect (PTN) with E-1 as the destination note. We then carry on the slide until beat 09. Then we make the slide REAL big for a beat (3F0) so we make sure if we're below the note … we're there now (he he!). This takes the hassle out of your slides by placing limit value at the top or bottom of your slide. For downward slides, just specify a lower note. Don't even hafta change the effect. ;)
A quick visualization today. Where is the American demo scene? Europe has their compos, Assembly '93 being the most obvious one. I haven't ever seen any event in the States even remotely like The Party anywhere. Is this due to a lack of coders? I doubt it. I know that a lot of people around here download stuff from FC and the other groups the week it comes out. But why is there no compos or anything like that? The hacker community BY ITSELF is big enough to support such a thing.
Maybe Microsoft and IBM have dominated the scene so much that people are drawn to computer stores to purchase pre-packaged products like little lemmings. I haven't even seen an abundance of American demo groups. Hackers we have galore, but aside from a few, I haven't seen the interest. Most of the really awesome demos come from Finland and/or Eastern Europe.
Maybe it's a mentality thing. America's solution to the limitations of the computer is to build a bigger computer. Europe's solution is to max out what you already have. Have you seen Windows NT? You know how many disks that is? Or maybe Ultima 7?
I would really like to hear from any groups interested in starting a US Party (maybe for summer 1994?) that would feature the best talent on US soil and elsewhere. OK, maybe we could invite the Brits too ;) My internet addr is listed below, please feel free to distribute. Please make sure to mention your demo group affilitations and your duties in any correspondence, too. And mod-coders are always welcome to chat….;)
Another issue come and gone. I urge all of you to download the music files from the ASM '93 competition in Finland. Most good demo sites will have this, but if you can't find it anywhere else, try wuarchive.wustl.edu under /pub/msdos/demos. Until the next time ….
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (until September 1, 1993)
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