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  Table Of Contents
        I.    Message From the Editor
        II.   Letters
        III.  General Tracking Techniques
        IV.   Computer Aided:  The Difficulty of Tracked Music
        V.    In Tune -- Tourach's "Line of Force"
        VI.   Monthly Software Review -- BuzzTracker Beta 15
        VII.  Is the Demoscene Dying?  Only if You Let It.
        VIII. Closing

  Message From the Editor
     Well, after our first issue, we appear to be off to a good start.   This
  is now our second issue with 30 subscribers -- much more than I
  expected after only one issue.  We've gained 13 subscribers just  since
  last month.  Keep Spreading the word!

     We're off to a good start, but we're not there yet.  I would still  like
  this to be much more well rounded.  As of now, we're real dense  in the
  tracking end of the scene, but I'd like to get more demo  related
  columns and articles in here.  Among the types of columns I'd  like to
  have are Demo Reviews, Codeing tips, interviews of fellow  sceners, and
  so on.  If you have any ideas or would like to  contribute anything,
  please don't hesitate to send a message.

     I'm also looking for ASCII artists to supply us with a new header.
  Submission must not use high-ascii characters, and must include a  spot
  for the date and subscription count.  You can send them to me at

     Now I bring you this months issue of Static Line.  Dilvish has  supplied
  us with an article providing some useful tracking tips and  tactics.
  Ever had "outsiders" question your abilities, simply  because you use a
  computer?  Setec debates that issue with his  article entitled "Computer
  Aided."  On the reviewing block this week  is the music of Tourach, and
  BuzzTracker Beta 15.  Finally, if you  think the demoscene is dying?
  Guess again -- read my article titled  "Is the Demoscene Dying?"

     I hope to see you all next month.  Remember, spread the word about  us,
  and send us something to publish.  Cheers...


  Letters from the Readers

  -=- Letter From Adok:  Why all the Fuss? -=-
     hi coplan!

     Your mag was nice to read. it's tiny, but that okay for the first issue
  of a monthly newsletter. the best thing about it is the good english.
  that's natural, when it's made by native speakers :)

     You wrote that articles for static line have to be formatted this way:
  two spaces at the beginning of every line, and one space at the end. why
  this great fuss? it might prohibit people from submitting articles,
  which they've written before in a different layout! there's a better
  solution: do you know the text editor aurora? it can take charge of all
  the layouting thing. get it at, it's shareware.
  then, in the options menu, set the left margin to 3 and the right margin
  to whatever you want (77, i suppose). then select a paragraph and click
  at ctrl+b - finished! i strongly recommend you aurora, it's really a
  great tool.


    -=> Thanks for the feedback Adok!  I downloaded a copy of Aurora, and
     fell in love.  I am currently useing it to edit all of our issues from
     now on.  Thanks to your recommendation and Aurora, we no longer
     require such extensive formatting (see the closing).
        Also, you can expect our issue to get slightly bigger as more
     articles and columns become availble to us.  However, when it comes
     down to the wire -- quality always takes precidence over size.

  General Tracking Techniques
  By:  Dilvish
     First off, I want to talk about some general instrument use guidelines,
  that I think even a few experienced trackers can forget a bit too
  easily.  I've noticed a couple classic blunders lately in some tracked

     INSTRUMENT USE: Have you ever heard a mod that uses a trumpet, or a
  sax, and been reminded of a cheesy $20 keyboard's demo song?  Of course,
  a lot of that may be the sample itself, but it may be more likely that
  you're just not using it right.  If you're using IT, and you're trying
  to track a solo on a brass instrument, keep in mind that these
  instruments are not polyphonic.

     Try to use them like a piano, and you end up with a half-baked cheesy
  effect.  If that's what you're going for, great, but if you're at all
  interested in a serious melody -  maybe some moody jazz - be careful to
  use them realistically.  Set your instruments to note cut.  Add an echo
  channel or two at very low volume, with some side panning to simulate
  wall reflections.

     If you want to play two notes at once, be sure you do it in a way that
  implies a second player.  Don't just throw around notes and chords like
  you would with a piano.  Set up another channel, with a different pan
  value, and give those wall reflections different delays for a realistic
  spacial effect.

     A big part of tracking horns, woodwinds, and strings, are volume fades.
  Good musicians use a lot of dynamic range when they play instruments
  like these... even on a single note.  Fading notes in and out can really
  add a human touch to a song.  Trumpets almost never cut off drastically.
  Fade out those notes.  (Though, not while another note has begun!
  Remember, that is impossible to do on a real trumpet.)

     Another thing I've noticed is that some people could use a little work
  with their mixing technique.  Here are a few ideas to get you started on
  the road to good mixing.

     GENERAL GUIDELINES: Reverb and low-end do not mix well.  Floor toms,
  kick drums, and bass usually don't need much reverb.  Use it very
  sparingly.  Keep your kicks and floor toms tight and punchy.. don't let
  them ring for too long, and it'll really help clear up that muddy sound.

     Also, a bass guitar is a great place to use the note cut setting in IT
  that people have become so scared of.  There are times when NNA's are a
  bad thing.  Keep that in mind.

     STEREO SEPARATION VIA EQ: Here's a trick I picked up quite a few years
  ago when a guitar part I recorded was overpowering my vocals.  If you
  have access to a nice graphic EQ (10 bands or more, preferably.. the
  more the better), try this:  open your sample *twice* in your editor,
  and drop every other frequency slider all the way.  Then do the same for
  the second copy of the sample, but drop the sliders that you left alone
  in the first copy:

    file 1:           file 2:
     |   |   |         |   |   |
     |   |   |         |   |   |
     |   |   |         |   |   |
    ===  |  ===        |  ===  |
     |   |   |         |   |   |
     |   |   |         |   |   |
     |  ===  |        ===  |  ===

     Now open up your tracker, and create two copies of the sample's part.
  Pan them to opposite sides.. as much or as little separation as you
  need.  Use your ears to judge.  Now you've opened up a spot right
  between them where you can sit a prominent melody line.  =)

     This technique works well if you have a bass that's getting in the way
  of your kick drum.  Keep the separation low, so your bass stays seated
  in the center of your mix, and put the kick drum right in the center.
  Don't be afraid to spread that kick drum's pan a little, too.  Just keep
  the kick and the bass separate, and you'll be fine.

     You *could* achieve a similar effect with a little delay, or a sample
  offset (simulated delay), but with that method, the part could become
  less clear, or worse.. suffer phase cancellation problems and become
  weak.  (There are some neat tricks you can do with eq and phase
  cancellation, but that's another article.)

     Keep in mind that panning doesn't need to be static.  You can add a
  little body to anything by giving it a looped panning envelope that just
  moves back and forth a little bit.

     Dilvie / Kosmic

  Computer Aided?
    The Difficulty Of Tracked Music
  By:  Jesper Pedersen / Setec
     We have probably all tried it. During a friendly chat with someone
  you mention that you enjoy making music in your spare time. "Make music?
  So, which instrument do you play?"  Well, you do not really play an
  instrument, at least not while making music. No, you are not in any
  band.  "So what do you mean, you make music?".

     And this is where the conversation really goes wrong.  You try
  explaining that you make music on your computer, and then you are given
  that LOOK.  "Oh...."  That about sums up all thoughts that "outsiders"
  have about  computer generated music:  "Well, then you do not really
  make the music  yourself!"  You may try desperately to change their
  viewpoint, but your efforts will almost always be wasted.

     Because of the general idea that people have -- that computer
  generated music is created not so much by the individual behind the
  keys, but more so by the chipset on the other side of the keyboard -- it
  is a lot easier to make music with the aid of a computer rather than a
  band.  And most importantly, that whatever result you might get, you
  cannot really be branded as the author.

     So, let us take a closer look at the prejudices. Is it really easier
  to make music with the aid of a computer as opposed to the usual method
  of composition?  For starters, let us imagine a typical scene of a
  composer being inspired.  Imagine that you have been sitting by your
  piano and suddently you come up with an excellent chord progression.
  Okay, so far the approach has been the same for both the tracker and the
  "real" composer. But now the two of them take seperate paths.  Where the
  "real" composer might notate the progression on a piece of paper and
  start working out some sort of melody, the tracker will most likely boot
  up his tracker of preference.  He will then have to search for some
  suitable instrument (that he has perviously found, sampled or created
  for himself) and then determine the correct speed for the pattern's
  progression.  Then he can start punching in the notes.  So is this
  simply a matter of entering the piano keystrokes?  We all know that this
  is not the way it is done.  If you merely do that you will end up with
  something  that will sound at least "wrong."  No, first you need to set
  up different volumes on each note, maybe add a small delay on some of
  the keystrokes, setup the instrument parameters and maybe fix a small
  glitch in the looping.

     So what has the tracker actually achieved by now?  Well, he can now
  have his computer play the chord progression over and over again, he has
  obtained a (hopefully) nice mix, and he will now be able to work on some
  sort of lead.  A lot of hassle for so little.  So how much work would it
  take  the "real" composer to get to this point?  Well he was able to
  work on the lead immediately after coming up with the progression, but
  of course the tracker could have chosen to do this too. So what we will
  have to look at is how much work it takes to transfer the music to the
  medium of your desire, so that you may use such a recording to add more
  to it. Record. That is it. No problems of coming up with the proper
  samples, adjusting the volumes, looping or delay. Because this all comes
  naturally when playing an instrument.  The tracker has to immitate this
  random behaviour, while the "real" composer obtains this by just playing

     Okay, this way of looking at it is a tad too simplified, but I  think
  the point I am trying to make is correct.  Making computer generated
  music adds just ass much extra work as it takes away, or maybe even
  more.  While we get rid of the hassle of getting five or six people to
  meet and play (by having samples of the instruments), we have a new
  problem at our hands:  obtaining samples of proper quality.  And while
  replaying and editing tunes might be easier on a computer, we actually
  have a lot of work just mixing the tunes.

     This, I think, is one of the things that acually makes tracked music
  harder to make than "real" music.  Mixing -- volumes, panning, and
  such -- takes up such a huge amount of work and time.  The selection of
  samples is probably the most difficult and time-consuming.  We have to
  obtain a sample set that goes well together.  Something that, when put
  together, has a certain sound quality.  Just think about it.  We
  actually have to find a bass and a guitar that compliment each other! I
  doubt that many bands have such problems. :)

     And this is not all.  On the topic of guitar samples, most of you
  will know how damn hard it can be to make it sound like a real guitar.
  This is because of yet another problem that we have.  We have to imitate
  real musical instruments, to make it sound as if it wasn't created on a
  computer.  And this is not easy!  Of course, this only applies to some
  categories of tracked music, but the task of creating a genuine mix goes
  for all of them.

     Percussion.  Now there is an area of music where tracked music truly
  differs from ordinary music.  Imagine the beat on a standard rock tune
  and the one in some fast-moving electronic track.  Think of the
  complexity in the latter (granted that the author is good, naturally) as
  opposed to the often striking simplicity of the first one.  And I think
  most of you agree with me when I say that mixing the percussion is
  proabably the most difficult of all.  I mean, just think of all the work
  we put into a simple hihat line. :)

     Well, I believe that I have succesfully proven most or all of the
  assumptions that people have about computer generated music are wrong.
  The object of this article is not to make tracked music "better" than
  ordinary music, because I do not believe that this is the goal. But I do
  believe that tracked music, and especially the authors of such, need to
  be treated with the same respect that "real" musicians get. Because this
  is what we all are...musicians.  It is not some chipset or a set of
  jumpers that makes the music that we publish.  It is ourselves, our
  creative minds and the musician inside of us.

     Because really, is tracked music that computer aided?

     Setec / Immortal Coil

  In Tune
    Tourach's "Line of Force"
  By:  Coplan and SiN
     Unfortunately, SiN will be unable to join us this month, as he has a
  very busy schedule to uphold.  I hope that this does not in any way limit
  the quality of this review.  Meanwhile, he will hopefully be back with
  us next month to continue reviewing with me.  Now, down to business.

  -=- Coplan -=-
     This month, I am reviewing "Line of Force," a song written by Tourach
  of Chaos Theory.  As I am very much the product of the 80's, this song
  brings me back to the classic days of Van Halen.  I would classify the
  song as rock, though I must admit -- I wouldn't know what kind.  Lets
  just say it isn't the typical electronic based music that you often find
  in the music scene these days.  This song is the first of a two song
  series (so far).  The second song, "Line of Force 2" (,
  follows the same style, and can be found in the same directory as "Line
  of Force."

     The first thing that I must commend Tourach for are his samples.
  Credits aren't assigned to the samples, so I can only assume that he
  created all the samples himself.  Even if this isn't so, he chose his
  samples well.  All are very clean, well matched and generally
  appropriate for the song.  He has several guitar riffs sampled which he
  uses effectivly in the song without unnecessary repetiton.  Some people
  may feel that this is "cheating," but in all honesty, it adds a level of
  realism to the song -- especially if it is done well.

     The song opens with a very dramatic introduction useing mostly
  percussion and some sythesized horns.  Then an organ breaks in with a
  dramatic chord progression.  I want to point out the percussion here.
  Try to imagine the song without the percussion being as clean as it were
  here.  The delivery of the opening is almost entirely dependant on the
  percussion, and Tourach makes no folly of that.  The introduction
  continues up to Order 10 in what I call a three part introduction (its
  not a technical term -- its something thats typical of many rock songs).
  You will notice how the feel of the introduction changes at order 6,
  with a fancy guitar riff, and again at order 8, where the synth-organs
  come back with another guitar riff in the background.  Finally at order
  10, we are set into the overall mood of the song.  A phenominal
  introduction that many could learn from.

     At order 28, we have a very well done key change with a guitar taking
  the lead here.  This is where useing pre-recorded riffs can get tricky.
  You will notice that the lead guitar changes key a couple of times.
  This gets tricky when you use pre-recorded riffs, because the speed of
  the riff also changes from note to note.  There are two good solutions
  to avoid this, one is to sample the same riff at different keys.
  Tourach chose to have a sample that extends for 128 lines -- complete
  with the key changes and all.  You will notice, however, that the key
  changes precicely at line 64 (unedited, this would be the first line of
  the next pattern).  This is where tempo and song speed come in handy,
  in this case they needed to be manipulated to match the instrument.

     In general, most of the transitions in this song are clean and well
  managed.  However, I would like to make an example of the transiton at
  order 34.  This transition isn't nearly as clean as it could have been.
  In order 33, there is no warning given that a change is about to happen.
  It would have been a good idea if that last note of the guitar riff were
  to hold out for a couple of seconds more (extending the pattern a bit),
  and if the drums were to somehow kick into a dramatic riff, then cut off
  just before the guitar note carries off.  There are several ways to do
  this transition, that would just be one possible way.  As it exists
  currently, however, almost every instrument simply clips off, and the
  new melody kicks in.  There needs to be some sort of buffer between
  order 33 and order 34.  You can see a good example of what I'm talking
  about in this very song, at the transition between order 51 and 52.
  Notice how that tiny 16 line buffer makes all the difference!

     My favorite part of the song is from order 54 to order 61.  Tourach
  transfers from the bells to the synths smoothly and effectivly, and the
  percussion is once again flawless.  This launches you into the closing
  set, which very much like the opening, is well done.  You see a little
  cameo appearance of all the instruments that have appeared elsewhere in
  the song, and finally it closes with nothing but bell chords.  A good
  closing to a fine piece of work.

     Though it has its weak points, this song is a good example of what is
  possible these days.  Its original, its full of fresh ideas, and most of
  all -- its cleanly organized.  I will not be reviewing the second song
  in the series, "Line of Force 2."  But if you liked this song, you
  should definately give it a listen.  It too is well worth the time.

     Coplan / Immortal Coil

  Listening Info:
     Coplan: IT 2.14 useing default Interwave drivers; Koss Standard

  Song Information:
     Title: Line of Force
     Author: Tourach / Chaos Theory
     Filename (zipped/unzipped): /
     File Size (Zipped/Unzipped): 640k / 686k

     "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!

  Monthly Software Review
    BuzzTracker Alpha 15
  By:  Louis Gorenfeld

     People have told me that on some systems in Windows 98, Impulse
  Tracker does not work.  I assume you can still run it in good old DOS,
  but the picky memory requirements of IT will frustrate people used to
  Win95.  And with some sound cards that need DOS drivers which take up
  memory, it can be quite a chore getting it to work.  That's why I have
  been looking around at Windows native trackers.

     One thing about Buzz that may frusterate people is that it seems to
  require IE3 or higher (yes, that poses a problem for those people who
  deleted theirs in an anti-Microsoft tantrum, or who have an older
  version of Win95 and never downloaded IE).  I do not know if Buzz will
  run at all without IE3 or up, but it is listed in the requirements.

     BuzzTracker has been around for a little while but is still far from
  completion.  Though it shows a lot of promise.  Basically, it is a
  softsynth tracker.  Well, what's so great about that, you say, most
  softsynths come with a sequencer.  The deal with Buzz is that you get
  multiple softsynths plus effects such as flanging, chorus, delays and
  reverb.  You lay these machines out in a kind of (I hate to say this)
  virtual studio, hooking them to each other and finally to the mixer.

     On top of that, it's expandable:  new softsynths and effects can be
  programmed (if you're a programmer, it does not come with a scripting
  language or anything like that).  The downside of this is that the
  softsynths and effects (machines) are not embedded in the song file so
  if you use a new machine in your song, whoever you give your song to
  must have the same machine as well.  You can still use samples (with a
  "tracker" machine), but you cannot import other module formats.

     Another nice thing about Buzz is that depending on what softsynth or
  effect (yes, you can track effects) you are editing, the pattern editor
  has different columns to match the capabilities of whatever machine
  you're entering notes for.  One thing that it lacks however is a
  standard effect column for the kind of control trackers are used to
  (though I don't know if this is possible to do).

     The order list is a bit different.  With other trackers the order
  list is one-dimensional.  In this, you make patterns for each individual
  softsynth (for example, a bass machine can have it's own pattern 00,
  then another machine comes along and will get a different pattern 00).
  When you get to the order list screen to lay it out, along the top of
  the screen are the names of all the machines that you tracked.  Then you
  enter the number of what pattern you want what synth to play when. If
  you want, you can even name the individual patterns.

     As I mentioned before, Buzz is not done yet.  In fact if you looked
  at the version reviewed, you would see it's only in alpha stages.  Some
  of the bugs include noticible crackling sounds with certain machines and
  effects, some graphical bugs and very sloppy playback control.  I
  recommend a fast computer for this (p166 or better) unless you want to
  write songs at 11khz and listen to them using the built-in stereo wave
  writer.  It's so far not exactly a replacement for IT or FT2, but it's
  on its way.

     Rating:     2+/4 (too buggy so far)
     Min. Req:   Pentium, 16mb RAM, 800x600 display, IE3+, win95
     Rec. Req:   Pentium 166, 16mb RAM, 800x600 display,IE3+, win95
     Platform:   Windows 95 and up

     Louis Gorenfeld

  Is The Demoscene Dying?
    Only if You Let It
  By: Coplan
     Recently, we have had a lot of people leave the scene.  Perhaps they
  have been thrown into the real world, and time has become more of an
  issue than it had been in the past.  This is certainly a reasonable
  excuse to "leave the scene" in my eyes.  However, its not always the
  case.  Unfortunately, I have noticed that a lot of people have left the
  Demoscene out of dissatisfaction rather than the time issue.  Still more
  have left dissatisfied, but blame it on the time issue.  Has the
  Demoscene really turned raw -- to the point that people are leaving in
  numbers?  It all depends on how you look at it.

     First of all, you must realize that the Demoscene is much more
  accessable than it used to be.  The internet has become the ultimate
  form of communication between persons involved in the scene, and with
  more and more people with internet access, we of course have more people
  involved in the scene.  This has created a false sense of decreasing
  quality of productions in the scene.  Think back to the first time you
  entered the scene -- be it for tracking, codeing or GFX.  Most of you
  can't truly claim to have been gods and goddesses of the scene in the
  first few weeks that you graced the scene.  Now, consider how many
  people are new to the Demoscene.  I'd make a rough estimate that the
  size of the Demoscene has almost doubled in less than a year.  So, that
  means that half of the scene's members are inexperienced.  Doesn't it
  seem like the overall quality is decreasing?  Well, as I said, it
  depends on how you look at it.  Let us forget about those people who
  have had less than a years experience.  Lets look at those who are
  familiar with their medium.  New ideas are still arising, quality
  productions still exist.  The only difference is that it is harder to
  find them.  Regardless, they are there.

     So what do we do?  Do we simply say that the majority of the scene
  sucks, and give up?  That's the easy way out that many people are
  taking.  Unfortunately, this will do nothing to help the scene.  If you
  truly love the scene, a better solution would be to hang around and
  teach the inexperienced.  Teach them what only years of experience has
  gotten you.  I myself floundered around for the better part of two years
  before I came across someone kind enough to teach me some tricks about
  tracking.  Just think what would've happend if I met that person two
  years earlier.  I'm not saying that you should take on an apprentice and
  teach them from the very beginning -- though it wouldn't hurt (that's
  how craftsmen learn their skill).  Many people can benefit quite a bit
  from a tiny peice of advice.  If you were to teach someone how to tune
  an instrument in Impulse Tracker, don't you think their music would
  improve drastically, simply because they now know how to tune?  Simple
  gestures such as that can almost garuntee that quality productions will
  once again hold the majority of Demoscene releases.

     What's a few moments of your time relative to the many years the
  Demoscene has been in existance?

     Coplan / Immortal Coil

  Editor:             Coplan / D. Travis North /
  Assistant Editors:  Ranger Rick / Ben Reed /
                       Subliminal / Matt Friedly /
  Web Manager:        Dilvish / Eric Hamilton /
  Columnists:         Coplan / D. Travis North /
                       Darkheart / Zach Heitling /
                       Louis Gorenfeld /
                       SiN / Ian Haskin /
  Staff Writers:      Acell / Jamie LeSouef /
                       Dilvish / Eric Hamilton /
                       Setec / Jesper Pederson /
  Technical Support:  Draggy / Nicholas St. Pierre /

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     See you next month!