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Table Of Contents
I. Message From the Editor
II. 120 FPS -- To 3D Or Not To 3D?
III A Lesson On How NOT to Act (Logged from #trax)
IV. In Tune -- Zaigamore's "The Swamp"
V. Software In Review -- Cubic Player 2 (opencp)
VI. Trackers Block: The Symptoms and the Cure
Message From the Editor
Well, after all the hype, after all the marketing, and after all the
busy nights...WE'RE HERE! We're even on schedule too. Well, I hope it
has been well worth the wait. We've already had a lot of fun getting
this project off the ground. For those of you who were lucky enough to
get signed up early, we've got a good first issue for you. For those of
you interested in the effects of 3D acceleration and its effects on the
demoscene, check out Darkhearts new column: "120 FPS." For the trackers
out there, I'm back with "In Tune," montly song reviews with my new
co-author SiN. This month we review the music of Zaigamore. Is the new
Cubic Player worth it? Find out in Louis' first installment of "Software
In Review." Finally, we got two humorous articles by Setec -- one dealing
with political correctness and MC6, the other dealing with the dreaded
So, that's it? Not yet. The thing is, we're still a young magazine,
and we're looking for help. As you may have noticed, we're sorta heavy
on the tracking side for now. That's fine, but our goal is to be a scene
wide publication. I'm still looking for volunteers to do a montly column
on demo reviews (I'd prefer someone with some coding experience). I'd
also like to see the occasional article from people outside the staff.
If you would like to volunteer your time, services, articles, whatever...
please contact myself or my Assistant Editors: Subliminal and Ranger
Rick. Our e-mail addresses are all listed in the closeing statement.
As always, comments are welcome. Thanks again for your support. See
you next month!
To 3D Or Not To 3D?
Over the years the PC demoscene has done a lot of evolving. We've gone
from plotting pixels and moving them around in a starfield pattern to more
amazing feats such as double sided environment mapped transparent texture
mapped (deep breath) polygonal shapes and as a collective whole have been
exploring different Operating Systems to expand our technological works of
art and leave the (PC game) industry wondering what the hell that new
effect was and how the hell it was pulled off.
Enter 3D acceleration! The industry couldn't hope to keep up with our
phat software rendering engines and as we all know, they couldn't write
one worth a damn. So they turned to DSP's and Polygon pumping 3D cards
that could dish out textures faster and with a huge quality improvement
over our software engines?! Problem? I don't think so. It's time we take
the industry to a better place, once again.
Some groups have already risen to the challenge. Even some commercial
companies (Although they consist of a bunch of sceners) Remedy <cough>
<cough> have written some really damn good demos sporting some phat effects
that only the world of 3D accelerators could bring you. Among the actual
scene doing 3D Acceleration based demos are The Kosmic Free Music
Foundation, Complex, and Vertigo to name a few.
I'm almost certain that more of the scene will follow and this will
become competition material and, if some of us get lucky, a career in the
industry. Not to mention all the end users get to see what that 3D card of
thiers can *REALLY* do. So, the choice is yours, scene. Will you 3D, or
Darkheart / Digitalus
Zaigamore's "The Swamp"
By: Coplan and SiN
Some of you may remember Trax Weekly, a weekly publication very much
like this one. It was very enjoyable while this column was based there,
but unfortunately the magazine's status is yet unknown. When Static Line
was formed, and since I havn't heard of Trax Weekly for several months, I
took no haste to moving the column over. There is one major change from
the old articles based in Trax Weekly, however -- I have a partner. Let
me introduce SiN (Ian Haskin), formerly known as Pyro. Some of you may
remember the review of his song, "Sad," wich appeared in In Tune several
months ago. As you will see, he offers quite a bit to the quality of this
column. I must admit this is the first time that either of us has written
a co-authored column before, so if our format seems experimental, you'll
know why. Please offer feedback so that we can improve the column over the
next few issues.
Now that the formalities are through...
-=- Coplan -=-
This month we will reviewing a song by Zaigamor titled "The Swamp." The
song is fairly old, as it was released in January of 1998. However, the
Hornet Archive never deletes anything, so the song won't be hard to find.
The overall character of the song is an orchestral epic piece. It is often
times hard to find song like this with the electronic styles being so
popular in the demoscene these days. But if there ever was a good example
of such, this is it.
First let's start with the opening. If you were to simply take that
piano sample for its sample data, I wouldn't consider it a wonderful sample.
However, lets keep in mind that the sample needs to be chosen for its part.
In this case, the opening is very mysterious, and the piano sample helps
achieve this affect with it's quick fadeout and plucking quality. You will
soon notice how important the strings are in the opening as well. Zaigamor
chooses a minor key to create the mood, and a low-string sample to balance
the audio spectrum. Once again, the low octaves are often forgotten,
especially by those who use tiny headphones -- they just can't duplicate
the low end of the spectrum.
In the transition from Order-2 to Order-3, pay close attention to the
strings and the Timpany. Most noticable is the fact that the strings
simply shift to a more active role. Crisp notes, shorter times between
notes and repetition is a good way to create a dramatic mood. Also notice
how the Timpany enforces the activity of the strings. Finally, Zaigamor
add a choir sample in the background just barely audible over the strings.
The choir now carries the harmony, and helps to continue the mysterious
mood as it resides in the dramatic struggle of the movement.
Also, before we move on, pay close attention to the brass instruments
here (brasshit and brass samples). Their purpose is clear and justified,
but this part could benefit from improved brass samples. As you will see
later, this isn't always the case.
The next part I want to point out starts at Order-10. Some may believe
this to be a bad transition, but I would like to argue just the opposite.
Though I am normally not partial to a complete cut of every instrument
for a transition, here I think it works quite well. Picture an epic story
of some hero as he's running away from some creature in the swamp. Now
picture him pausing to collect himself as he realizes he must re-enter the
swamp and fight that creature. The mood has changed completely: No more
mystery, no more confusion. Now, the hero knows his mission, and has made
a plan. Charge! The music is very effective in portraying this sort of
mood change. Once again, the strings are very well done, and effectively
support the new mood. There is a Xylaphone and some Tubular Bells in there
too, and they make this part completely unique. The removal of either of
these two instruments could easily break this part of the song. Now, let
me get back to the brass samples again. Notice now that the brass samples
don't seem out of place, and actually compliment the song. This is mostly
because of how they are used, and the instruments in which they are used
with. An ordinary sample now become a necessity to the song. In the case
of this song, however, I would suggest possibly loading additional brass
samples for the other parts as needed.
Coplan / Immortal Coil
-=- SiN -=-
This review is not as detailed as I'd like it to be due to some RW
(real-world) issues, so please bear with me if it seems disjointed...
Overall I liked the song... I am a fan of good orchestral pieces and
"zai-swmp.it" falls into that catagory, however, every song has some things
that can be improved so I am going to try to list the ones that struck me
I liked the intro, musically it did a good job of setting the mood for
the rest of the song... There were a couple of things that I'd like to
address though: First, I would have liked the intial build of the strings
to last longer...it felt like I was rushed into the song. Anticipation
had no chance to build. Secondly, in using the Volume Slide command to
create the swell of the strings, the changes in volume sounded choppy on the
headphones I was useing. Since Instruments Mode was enabled, the use of the
S78 (Turn on Volume Envelope) command to temporarily enable a volume
envelope could have improved the smoothness of the upward volume slide.
The song is devided into two parts, both of which were well-composed.
The song is very "big!" It has an epic feel to it which is nice. The
transition between the first and second parts is good, but I felt it was a
little harsh (order 16). The percussion is very well tracked, but the
addition of a simple sustaining string would have made the flow between the
two sections less jagged...
As for the song as a whole, there are a few things that I would like to
-> Good use of panning. Even on the headphones nothing caused me to
experience wide panning discomfort. Panning was balanced and
had interesting variations.
-> There was a real lack of crispness in the overall presentation, the
snare patterns were very well tracked, but tended to get lost in the
song due to lack of definition (especially in the second half).
This brings me to a point... SAMPLE QUALITY can make or break a song,
depeneding on the sound you want, hi-frequency samples should be sampled,
at a minimum of 22 kHz, 16-bit. 44.1/16 bit is perferred for high-end. In
this age of faster modems, making your song a bit larger (but better) isn't
a crime ;] The samples used in "zai-swmp.it" were all chosen well for the
instruments they represented, but the overall sound of the piece due to
lower quality samples (8-bit) and low sampling rates, came accross as being
rough -- from the strings in the intro, to the hits at the end. I DO,
however, acknowledge that without the ablilty to create your own samples,
it is sometimes difficult to find the proper samples that are of high enough
So, I liked the song, overall. If it seems like I have not included
enough positives in this evaluation, please don't take it as I am trying to
bash the song, I am simply trying to show how to make a good song even
better. The scene is about learning and growing. Learing from others and
Coplan: IT 2.14 useing default Interwave drivers; Koss Standard
SiN: IT 2.15 useing MMX PNP drivers; volume ramping (@48kHz);
Senheiser Studio-Reference Headphones.
Title: "The Swamp"
Filename (zipped/unzipped): zai-swmp.zip / zai-swmp.it
File Size (Unzipped): 396k
*** Note: There is a copy of this song on the hornet archive, but
apparently it is corrupt. If per chance you get this song from
the Hornet Archive, play at your own risk. The Hornet Archive is
not responsible for this corruption.
"In Tune" is a regular column dedicated to the review of original and
singular works by fellow trackers. It is to be used as a tool to expand
your listening and writing horizons, but should not be used as a general
rating system. SiN and Coplan's opinions are not the opinions of the
Static Line Staff.
If you have heard a song you would like to recommend (either your own, or
another person's), we can be contacted through e-mail useing the addresses
found in the closing notes. Please do not send files attached to e-mail
without first contacting us. Thank you!
Software In Review
Cubic Player 2 (opencp)
By: Louis Gorenfeld
After a long wait, this DOS player is finally working. It's the same
old Cubic Player, only with some new things since the last release
such as not crashing. It now also plays ITs with NNA's (no filters
so far) along with fast MP3 playback (stereo on my 486dx4 132) and
SIDs (c64 music).
CP now plays in the background of Windows 95, but on a slow
machine it seems to skip much more than other players. In some
modes it still doesn't multitask and will stutter and flash colors
when you return to it. The mixing is nice sounding though and seems
to ramp the sound to avoid clicks.
While this player plays nearly every format, it doesn't always play
them correctly, though the support is better than many other players.
This is also definetly not a program for beginners: the interface
isn't easy and the only documentation for CP is in the help menu.
A Lesson On How NOT to Act (and a reminder of the rules of MC6)
Logged from #trax on irc.scene.org
Prepared By: Setec
- LOG -
<Anthrax> my tune will kick ass in mc6..... wakner
<Divion> anth: rookie, intermed or vet?
<nothing> anthrax: too bad it'll never get entered.
<Setec> anthrax: that's a bold statement....if you do bad everyone will
be sure to let you know now...
<Anthrax> i know, but i have no fear
<Setec> oooh, you keep on making it worse.....
<Divion> anthrax; will you enter rookie, intermed or veteran?
<nothing> fear? you have no -something-, but fear isnt what id call it.
<gd> white courtesy cluephone ..
<cd> i haven't heard a single decent song that was hyped by its author
to be "kick ass"
<Divion> so ignore me. nobody ever listen to me anyway.
<Setec> divion: I think the lack of reaction from his side means he's
<Anthrax> Divion: Intermediate
<Setec> there goes my theory...
<Anthrax> was at ipswich.com and started downloading ws-ftp pro
<Divion> set; don't worry, he *might* by lying... :)
<Setec> divion: hehe..we'll just have to wait and see, i guess....now
he's made sure that we will pay attention to his place. =)
<Divion> i'm gonna keep track of him :)
<Anthrax> well, i'll let you know..., look fo my entry later:
<cd> haha.. dq
<dennisc> anthrax - that was an unfortunate thing to say
<Setec> "I will fucking rock mcx. Yo, my tune KiX aSs soo bAd!!!" - the
words of Charles ODom....=)
<Anthrax> i have not released it, and it is not the correct
<Divion> the famous last words...
<nothing> it's a bit late for that.
<Anthrax> can't get dicqualifyed or anything for that
<Divion> i won't get dickqualified either
<Anthrax> got to go (reboot)
*Anthrax [email@example.com] has quit IRC (Leaving)
<gd> if further similar incidents occur, please feel free to email me
<Setec> gd: hehaehea. =)
<Setec> <Anthrax> got to go (reboot) <- famous last words...
Trackers Block - The Symptoms and the Cure
"Trackers Block" - the inability for
musicians to make music, not due to
lack of talent, but because of some
undocumented block of the inventive
and creative mind.
- The Cyclopedia of Tracking $216b.
Many trackers have experienced this still to be documented illness.
As the name implies, it seriously damages your ability to track over
a limited period of time. Any permanent damage has still not been
reported, although the side effects might be the loss of some or all
Needless to say, this disease is a constant danger luring for any
tracker. In this article I will attempt to outline some of the symptoms
of the disease and hopefully grant you with a few possible cures.
THE SYMPTOMS :
- One of the most reported symptoms is the phenomena knows as "the
void pattern". Basically, affected trackers will load up their tracker
of choice and countinue to stare at the opening pattern only to do some
minor changes and then deleting them, thus maintaining a completely
empty pattern (in some cases the pattern will not be completely empty,
but will contain a basic rhythm, in most cases the well-known and
feared basedrum at each fourth row).
- Another symptom is the sudden desire to continuously load and reload
samples, going all the way through the sample library. Presumably, this
is believed to be a cure for the illness, but it has never been known
- Cheese is another symptom. If you feel unable to track anything but
the cheesiest music, then you are probably infected with the disease.
If this is not the case, you have a far more serious problem; "The
cheeze diseaze", which has been known to lead many new trackers into
- If you basically feel unable to track anything that is even remotely
close to your normal standards then you are most likely affected by
this block. Try loading one of your earlier tracks and zap all of the
patterns, only keeping the samples intact. Then try making a new tune
with the excact same samples. If you are still unable to make anything
then the diagnose is obvious : "Trackers Block".
THE POSSIBLE CURES :
1. The cold turkey approach
Don't track! Simply stop tracking for a while until you really feel
like doing it again. Start aiming your attention towards some of
your other hobbies or at your work/school. Try to explore the life
outside the tracker, hang around with your friends, go to some wild
parties. But do NOT attempt to track during this period.
If you fall for the temptation before the cure has come to an end,
the disease will affect you even worse.
2. Reviewing yours and others work
Try to listen to a lot of tunes, both your own and others. Do not
try to track right away. Instead, really get into these tunes,
explore them and try to see what makes them great. Perhaps attempt
to create a tune inside your head while you go through your modules.
Hopefully you will suddently be struck by inspiration and you will
find that you have been cured.
Take out some of your favourite cds and go through them, sampling
anything you think you might be able to use. Then play around with
the samples in your editor of choice (CoolEdit, SoundForge,...).
Listen to the samples you have made and figure out what kind of tune
they might be used in. Try to imagine how the track could be.
This can often be a great inspiration and a cure that will actually
help you expand your sample library at the same time.
4. The stubborn tracker
Try and try again. Keep tracking until you make something decent.
This will rarely work, unfortunately, but it has been known to cure
some victims. Be careful, though, as this approach might actually
worsen the symptoms.
I have contacted the international health commity, but they refuse to
have ever heard of the "Trackers Block". Furthermore they deny doing
any research on the area whatsoever.
So, fellow trackers, we are on our own. Is this some sort of virus,
genetically enginnered by the gouvernment? Is it some kind of new
biological weapon aimed at artists of foreign countries and tested on
The truth is out there...
Setec / Immortal Coil & Nothing
Editor: Coplan / D. Travis North / firstname.lastname@example.org
Assistant Editors: Ranger Rick / Ben Reed / email@example.com
Subliminal / Matt Friedly / firstname.lastname@example.org
Columnists: Darkheart / Zach Heitling / email@example.com
Louis Gorenfeld / firstname.lastname@example.org
SiN / Ian Haskin / email@example.com
Staff Writers: Acell / Jamie LeSouef / firstname.lastname@example.org
Dilvish / Eric Hamilton / email@example.com
Setec / Jesper Pederson / firstname.lastname@example.org
Technical Support: Draggy / Nicholas St. Pierre / email@example.com
To subscribe to the Static Line mailing list, send an e-mail message to
"firstname.lastname@example.org" with "subscribe static_line" in the message text.
You will then be asked to confirm your addition to the mailing list.
To unsubscribe from the mailing list, send an e-mail message to
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Your subscription will then be removed.
You can also get Static Line from the Hornet Archive's info section
(http://www.hornet.org), or from the Static Line web page
If you would like to contribute an article to Static Line, please format
your article so that it has two spaces at the beginning of each line, and
one at the end of each line. Please void foul language and high ascii
characters. Contributions should be mailed to Coplan
See you next month!