Buzz reloaded
June 8, 2008 10:39 PM   Subscribe

Oskari Tammelin picks up where he left off. Jeskola Buzz, a flexible and formidable (and free) piece of music composition software created in the late 90's by Oskari, had its growth unexpectedly stunted by a hard drive crash. Oskari indicated no immediate desire to continue the project at the time, but users of the software were so enamored with it they continued to create plug-ins, enhancements and hacks to pick up where the program left off. Oskari made the replay code available to those who wanted to develop software around the Buzz engine (for a price) and soon a number of Buzz clones followed, including variations for Mac and Linux. And so the Buzz community ran...until last week...
posted by deusdiabolus (22 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
ohhhhhhhhh snap!
posted by phrontist at 10:54 PM on June 8, 2008

Holy crap! I used to idle #buzz in my youth; it exposed me to a lot of insane electronic music.

Oskari really was an excellent programmer, considering what he accomplished on his own back in the late 90s. It's unfortunate that he was such an ass about the whole Fruityloops deal. He basically licensed Buzz and a whole mess of Buzz machines to them without compensating people who made the machines. I remember getting into a heated debate with him over it on IRC (I think that was the last time I spent any energy on the topic).

It's amazing that an old, buggy, and very crash-prone piece of software has survived so long and that it's still running strong. New development is another thing entirely.
posted by spiderskull at 11:09 PM on June 8, 2008

Oh I suppose I should follow up my claim about its instability by saying that 90% of the time, crashes were caused by machines and not Buzz itself. The other 10% did get unbearable at times, though.

From the page:
The biggest features that are missing are:
Built-in machines, most importantly the mixer

This is strange because Buzz had this from the beginning, and it seems like you wouldn't be able to get any output without this mixer...
posted by spiderskull at 11:15 PM on June 8, 2008

Interesting... I haven't thought about buzz in ages.
posted by vernondalhart at 11:37 PM on June 8, 2008

Ahhh, heh... man, I used to play around with Buzz all the time. I found the visual layout of the machines page, where you can move them around and link them up in endless combinations, really helped create interesting sounds and feedback loops and such. After a while I tried FruityLoops and a couple of others but although they had a lot more features and you didn't have to program anything with hexy-codes, somehow it just wasn't as fun to mess around with. I'll definitely be watching this with interest!
posted by Drexen at 2:43 AM on June 9, 2008

Buzz is back. Goosebumps!
posted by krilli at 3:09 AM on June 9, 2008

OMG! Buzz is very inspiring!
posted by toastchee at 4:20 AM on June 9, 2008

I don't know how to feel about this. I love Buzz, but I hate the way Oskari treated the community after the data loss.
posted by bigmusic at 5:42 AM on June 9, 2008

bigmusic: Re. the community - I think it turned out OK AFAIK. Oskari & the fruity loops gang struck some kind of opt-out deal. The Fruity deal was some lack of foresight on Oskari's part, but the devs seem happy to work with him now.
posted by krilli at 5:56 AM on June 9, 2008

Let this be a lesson to all programmers out there. Back up your source code. Twice, on different media. Three times, offsite.
posted by Nelson at 7:12 AM on June 9, 2008

Yeah, I was also turned off by all the Buzzdrama, it wasn't just the licensing. Still, I'm glad to see he started over, as we all hoped he would in the first place.

I still use Impulse Tracker at work every day -- as probably the best way in existence to create complex sound effects (power-ups, weapons, even vehicle engines) for next-gen games -- on a Pentium 100.

So, up next must be IT3 and Fast Tracker 3!!! (ReViSiT and Renoise fill those respective roles, but..)
posted by jake at 7:44 AM on June 9, 2008

Buzz! I was a Buzz fanatic in high school, and put out lots of weird trippy electronic stuff back in the day... this is VERY good news.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 9:23 AM on June 9, 2008

It's nice and quiet in this post. No snarking. Fresh breeze. Lovely.
posted by krilli at 9:32 AM on June 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Whoa, cool beans. Buzz is great for people like me who prefer to write music in hexadecimal code. The first time I downloaded it was in high school. I often found myself firing up Buzz just to listen to the demo songs.

Pointless anecdote: one night, when I was out with my high school chums, we pulled up beside a real low-rider lookin' dude, in a pimped-out ride with ground effects and everything. He was playing this really familiar melody out of his thundering bass speakers. Then it hit me-- that's a Buzz demo song! Later I realized that it was actually Kraftwerk's "Computerworld 2".
posted by Laugh_track at 9:58 AM on June 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

posted by krilli at 10:06 AM on June 9, 2008

I think it turned out OK AFAIK. Oskari & the fruity loops gang struck some kind of opt-out deal.

Eh, yeah, but still kind of a half-ass solution. Oh well, what's past is past.

Later I realized that it was actually Kraftwerk's "Computerworld 2".

I wonder how many people were introduced to electronic music through Buzz. I know I probably wouldn't have started getting into Rebirth, Reason, FL, etc. had it not been for this program.

The other thing about Buzz is that some of those machine developers had kick-ass music. I'm still trying to track down some of them.
posted by spiderskull at 10:48 AM on June 9, 2008

this is interesting, but it's kind of odd that he took this long to decide to roll back to a previous version - i've fooled around with buzz, too, but haven't in the past few years as it didn't quite fit 100% with the style of music i often do and it seemed to plateau after awhile with other programs such as reason and acid going further

my first real introduction to computer music was modplug tracker, though - (although i've been listening since the early 70s)
posted by pyramid termite at 1:13 PM on June 9, 2008

Are you guys aware that Arguru (made some of the best Buzz machines and Psycle and all sorts of other stuff) passed away just over a year ago? I wish I could've seen what he might have created with a new version of Buzz.

And yeah, it's hard to snark about stuff that's given away for free and used to make amazing music, even if the guy who started it made some dick moves.
posted by jake at 2:07 PM on June 9, 2008

When that source code was lost Oskari just pretty much threw up his hand and went "oh well" and walked away. There were alot of devs and users counting and looking forward to 2.0 and he just disappeared. People raised money to help him try to recover that hard drive - the community was behind him. 2.0 was going to mean alot of new stuff - but it was going to be a pay-for version and we were so ready for it. We expected him to get his shit together and start over, he didn't - he just fell off the map. Then he did that fruity loops stunt and pissed alot of the devs off. It's hard not to take shit personally when you are there to witness it. Yeah the drama is what pissed me off. Will I download this new version of Buzz? Sure. It's just software - I don't know why people take this so personally.
posted by bigmusic at 3:46 PM on June 9, 2008

Oh wow, buzz was a favorite. The idea of a scream-tracker like program with synthesizers and effects that could be changed together in all different directions was lovely. And the randomize function was sick (coupled with the 3d sound plugins) - the ability to create new sounds you've never heard before was enlightening.
posted by thylacine at 5:17 PM on June 9, 2008

Buzz has changed my life more than most things, certainly more than any other software piece of code program.

Buzz is the most important software program ever written, IMO, and part of the reason is that it has personality.
posted by krilli at 5:48 PM on June 9, 2008

Buzz did have personality, that's true. But making something of high production quality in it was always an uphill battle. This was the main reason I moved to Reason and Cubase + VST instruments. The quality of the synths and effects always fell short of my expectations.

Of course, now I'm complaining about the quality of something free.
posted by spiderskull at 7:42 PM on June 9, 2008

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