Old school jungle on old school tech
February 21, 2022 6:32 PM   Subscribe

 
I unironically appreciate how janky all of this is. I sincerely wish that 16-year-old me could have known how accessible electronic music could be, and especially to understand the amen break (previously). I would listen to Prodigy or whatever and find the density of beats and rhythms intimidating, never having a clue that they were all just spooled off a 25 year old record into a cheap sampler.
posted by migurski at 9:34 PM on February 21 [4 favorites]


This was high tech for me and my friends. We used hardware sequencers. Computers were expensive fancy pants items. :)
posted by readyfreddy at 10:14 PM on February 21


And now it's the other way round? Sequencers seem to be more expensive than a cheap laptop now from my quick Google search.
posted by Harald74 at 1:20 AM on February 22 [1 favorite]


Interesting video. I had a collection of trackers of different kinds on my Amiga that I noodled around with from time to time. Never amounted to much, but my biggest contribution to the world music is getting a friend set up on his Amiga, and that friend is a published musician now. These days the bar to getting started is really low indeed, which is a very good thing.
posted by Harald74 at 1:25 AM on February 22


Me and my friends had the same sort of set-up back in the day. Really cool video. For extra nostalgia I'd liked to have seen the little bombs that showed up on screen when cubase crashed (which happened a lot with our cracked versions).

Also, some cool trick I'm still missing on modern gear is the way you could arrange on the fly with the function keys on the Atari. You could have all channels running, mute several of those channels and save that particular setting under one of the 10(?) F-keys. Switching between F-keys was a blast. This was great to use live or just as a way to think out your arrangement.

When they included the possibility to record/play audio in Cubase it all went to shit IMO. This was at the same time as the transition to PC. Solid midi timing went out of the window, just like the F-key "trick". We all got blinded by the possibilities of editing audio and using VST's and that was that.

I'm using a DAWless setup nowadays which has its setbacks for sure but, for me, is still way preferable over Protools/Cubase whatever. I wouldn't mind going back to the Atari/Cubase setup were it not for the lack of reliability of the old tech involved.
posted by Kosmob0t at 3:03 AM on February 22 [3 favorites]


That UI is something else, and reminds me of finding these programs on my Atari ST and just not being able to figure them out. These days you can go online and find out what the workflow is, but back in the 1990s that wasn't really an option
posted by The River Ivel at 3:12 AM on February 22


I remember corresponding with Teijo, the author of MED and OctaMED. Every so often, I'd get a disk in an envelope from Espoo with his latest release. I never had a computer powerful enough to run OctaMED (it glitched out on a plain A500), but it was neat to see that old-school tracker running again.

It was amazing that Pete Cannon's A1200 worked. Those things have many ways of self-destructing, be it early 1990s leaky capacitors or Commodore's barely adequate power supplies. At least the A1200 wasn't fitted with an RTC by default, otherwise it would have been visited by Varta, Destroyer of Motherboards.
posted by scruss at 6:06 AM on February 22 [1 favorite]


first sampler I saw was an Ensoniq, in a pretty fancy 16-track studio where our band was recording an EP in 1986. They demoed us a floppy with Three Stooges noises, good times.
posted by thelonius at 6:57 AM on February 22


I blame People Just Do Nothing but I have been so earnestly into the old school jungle of my youth since the pandemic hit and maybe I just need to do enough drugs to play around with some sequencers without getting demoralized or distracted
posted by avocet at 7:10 AM on February 22 [2 favorites]


For those interested in what trackers look like in 2022, there are a few but by far my favorite is the Dirtywave M8. Based off of well-known Gameboy tracker LSDJ, it brings much greater MIDI capabilities, nearly the entire Braids engine, sampling for days and a rechargeable battery. It's a labor of love by one person, Trash80, who also happens to make fantastic music. An absolutely mad little piece of music kit made by a really brilliant dude. To see what it can do, there are many examples over at the Weekly Beats m8tracker tag. Part of the joy of doing things like what Pete does was the tinkering of it all but you just can't beat having all of that in your pocket imo. I still love my hardware synths but M8 is my go to.
posted by RobertFrost at 12:42 PM on February 22 [6 favorites]


And now it's the other way round? Sequencers seem to be more expensive than a cheap laptop now from my quick Google search. -- posted by Harald74

I think it depends. If you're looking at something like an Elektron or Maschine+ or MPCX/One, Deluge or etc... you're definitely paying a lot. But that's a lot more than a sequencer.

You can get a Volca Sequencer for a couple hundred bucks (but it's only 16 steps IIRC, even if it has nice sequencing capabilities). Novation circuit has an interesting sequencer and it's only like 400 bucks (500?)

Which is about on par with a cheap laptop.

But I can guarantee you I would never want to program music on a 500 laptop that has 4 gigs of ram or whatever.... If you're looking at functionally sequencing with enough ram and such you're gonna hit at least 700 bucks if not more especially now with the prices of everything going up.

That said it is true that computers can be really nice and cheap and powerful and outperform a single dedicated tool, with the ability to do a lot more than just sequence.

But yeah there's so much available these days for those who want to learn it really is amazing.
posted by symbioid at 12:51 PM on February 22 [1 favorite]


> But I can guarantee you I would never want to program music on a 500 laptop that has 4 gigs of ram or whatever...

I dunno, you can get pretty far with just hopped-up super-tracker Renoise.
posted by technodelic at 1:22 PM on February 22 [1 favorite]


Also, some cool trick I'm still missing on modern gear is the way you could arrange on the fly with the function keys on the Atari. You could have all channels running, mute several of those channels and save that particular setting under one of the 10(?) F-keys. Switching between F-keys was a blast. This was great to use live or just as a way to think out your arrangement.

The U.K. producer Dev Pandya (most famously a.k.a. Paradox, but he has multiple aliases which occasionally “collaborate” with each other) has been doing steadfastly retro break choppy jungle stuff for ages and there’s an amusing video where he shows how he performs live with a tracker on an old computer (if I recall his is an Amiga).
posted by atoxyl at 1:23 PM on February 22 [1 favorite]


I really enjoyed those videos - thanks!

There's been a bit of a quiet renaissance for Motorola 68000-based machines like the Atari ST and Amiga over the last couple of years. m68k.info has been hosting monthly video calls on interesting m68k projects. EmuTOS, the open-source replacement for Atari ST TOS, reached its 1.0 release - one popular use for it is running Atari music software on real hardware or under emulation. LLVM and Rust now both have support for m68k. And for those who want to run a modern OS on an ancient machine, the Linux kernel has had numerous fixes and modernisations to Atari ST and Amiga support, plus a new m68k virtual machine based on Android technology. Fun times.
posted by offog at 1:24 PM on February 22 [2 favorites]


But I can guarantee you I would never want to program music on a 500 laptop that has 4 gigs of ram or whatever.... If you're looking at functionally sequencing with enough ram and such you're gonna hit at least 700 bucks if not more especially now with the prices of everything going up.


a cheap old laptop with 4 gb of ram is fine for programming music - you just have to run older programs
posted by pyramid termite at 1:48 PM on February 22 [1 favorite]


One of my friends actually did a video series about doing low budget dance music using amigas - part 1 and part 2 . Also Ahoy did an amazing video about the evolution of amiga tracking software, from which octamed claims lineage
posted by jaymzjulian at 5:34 PM on February 22 [3 favorites]


For those interested in what trackers look like in 2022, there are a few but by far my favorite is the Dirtywave M8. Based off of well-known Gameboy tracker LSDJ, it brings much greater MIDI capabilities, nearly the entire Braids engine, sampling for days and a rechargeable battery. It's a labor of love by one person, Trash80, who also happens to make fantastic music. An absolutely mad little piece of music kit made by a really brilliant dude. To see what it can do, there are many examples over at the Weekly Beats m8tracker tag. Part of the joy of doing things like what Pete does was the tinkering of it all but you just can't beat having all of that in your pocket imo. I still love my hardware synths but M8 is my go to.

Seconding this wholeheartedly. The M8 Tracker is not just a great tracker in hardware form. It's the best music-making tool I've ever used, period, and I've used a lot. Endlessly inspiring, deep, and fun, and I've been more productive in making tracks with it than I ever have been in 2 decades. (Also, I'm in that weeklybeats m8tracker tag under the artist name polygloss)
posted by naju at 3:00 PM on February 23


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